Today was the big "Hello/Goodbye Party." This is the party designed to send off the old missionary (me) and welcome the new ones. But like most parties of it's kind, the focus is mostly on the person leaving.
Usually one would not be in charge of one's own goodbye party, but I tend to do things my way, so I took control of this last event. This was my last big event. We had a huge pot luck lunch after church. There was so much food! So many people came. There was standing room only. There were kids running around, students, church members, families and random people from the band all there. It was wonderful.
And in the middle of it all, I'm trying to eat while talking to everyone who wants to talk to me. Needless to say, I was kept very busy. Kids wanted to play with me, there were tons of people I needed to talk to, plus I was "in charge." haha.
There was a short presentation time from the church, giving gifts to me and the three new teachers. It was very nice. Then more mingling, eating time (with more people trickling in every minute.) By this time church members are trickling out. Haha.
We moved upstairs eventually where there was a kind of "speech" time. I gave a short speech and made a poor church member translate for me on the spot with very little warning. I still need work on my Japanese. I can do simple things, but something complicated like trying to express your feelings about 4 years of working someplace I just can't do in Japanese just yet. Then the new teachers gave a short introduction to themselves (we also made the same woman translate for them too! She get's the good sport award for the day.) There was a chance for anyone else to talk, but no one did. Instead it turned into a chance for the kids to give me homemade presents and take pictures. I got some beautiful keepsakes from the kids and their moms. And also a huge bouquet of flowers. After a few more presents, we played a game.
The game was a bit hard to follow I think, but we had a list of 40 facts (10 for each person) of me and the three new teachers, and the students had to guess which facts were for which person. There were two teams and they raced to put sticky notes with the facts on each person. It was a bit confusing, but we managed to finish it.
Then the highlight of the day (at least for me) was that Trash Box Jam came to play. I had actually asked them come to two events before this, but they had been busy and unable to come. When they found out this was my last event, they promised they would come no matter what. I was very thankful for that.
It was really a beautiful performance. I just finished reading one of the comments from one of the fans that came. She said that it was such a warm feeling, like God was watching over us. For them not being Christian, it was an amazing effect. I felt God's love for me during that time. All my stress and worries about the party melted away. I was free to be enveloped in the music and atmosphere. I don't know if I have ever felt more loved in my life. I was in a room, surrounded by people who were brought together because of their connection to me. It was humbling, that God would allow such a thing to happen to me. I'm so thankful. I just can't express.
I can't believe how lucky I am. I know that no other fan has had the experience of the Band coming to an event and playing there. I'm so blessed.
My favorite part was watching the room transform from restless children and people to being mesmerized by the band. The children gathered up front to listened, and for the most part sat through the whole thing. The grumpy baby stopped crying when the music played. And what I believe is a wonderful gift from God is how wonderful they played.
Of course, I think Trash Box Jam is wonderful, but they aren't pro's yet. They still make lot's of mistakes and such, but they make up for it with charisma. But today was their best performance, ever. Even Sing said so after it was finished. It was like God's present to me. Well, that's what it felt like anyway. The room just felt full of warm light, and the music seemed to surround me, and the love felt tangible.
I hope that I will be able to remember that feeling for the rest of my life. But sadly, it's already fading away...
But I have many mementos and pictures that won't fade away (as fast). I'm so thankful for my time here. I'm so thankful for the people who came today. I can't ever express my thanks enough. I'm so thankful for God who orchestrated all of this. And I'm so thankful that he gave me a seat of honor in the midst of it.
And now is the bitter-sweet time to move on to the next part of my life. I pass the baton to three new people, and I hope that they are able to receive even greater things than I did. (I do really hope that, but I must confess that I'm still jealous that they get my students... It's a mixed feeling of wishing them the best, and wishing I could keep doing it...) So hopefully I can watch them as they succeed, and rejoice with them (instead of being jealous. haha) That's my dream.
All in all, it was a stressful day, but a wonderful day. During the party, I thought it was a pretty crazy event (crazy busy, out of control feeling) but then afterward I thought about it a little bit and realized that most of the other people were probably pretty relaxed. I was just in the middle of it all, trying to juggle too much. But that's my style...
After cleaning up and organizing all my presents, I was able to hang out with two of my friends, and that was really helpful to let me ease my way down from the event. But now I'm just tired. Physically. Emotionally. Everything. But satisfied. The world is not a perfect place. And I know that I received today more than I deserve.
Ok, I've entered into "ramble mode." I think it's about time to wrap this up now. I just wanted to write it down while it was all fresh in my mind.
Tomorrow I go to the doctor for more migrane medication, and I have to continue my job search after that. (prayers greatly appreciated for finding a new job before April.) Then I have my last two days of work. Three more days. The end of 4 years is coming to a close...
I wonder what the next adventure will bring...