By Laura Krone

When I left the U.S. two years ago, one of the foremost emotions I experienced was grief.

Sure, I was excited to move to Africa and see what God had in store, but it was really difficult to say goodbye to friends and family, leave a job and coworkers that I loved, give away my belongings, and know that things were going to be different when I came back. I would be changed by this new experience, and things back home would change too with babies being born, friends moving away, new songs coming on the radio, restaurants opening and closing.

As I was preparing to go I felt God speaking a promise to me from Mark 10:29-30, which was a great comfort:

“’I tell you the truth,’ Jesus replied, ‘no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age (homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—and with them, persecutions) and in the age to come, eternal life.’”

And it has proved true: two years and three countries later, I now have new brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, nieces, and nephews from all over the world. Only now I find myself in the same position, about to leave Africa to return to the U.S., and I am confronted once again with grief at leaving the people I have come to love. There’s a good chance I will see my Every Village teammates some time back in the states, but I don’t know if I will ever see many of my South Sudanese friends again in this lifetime.

As I prepare to leave South Sudan and experience the waves of emotion that come with both the goodbyes and the upcoming reunions, I am filled with thankfulness for the friendships of these last two years. The fact that it is so difficult to leave is a reminder of God’s faithfulness, and it gives me hope too for whatever is next. I’m looking forward to catching up with old friends in the states and hearing about their new experiences and how they have changed.

Most of all though, I’m eager for the end of Mark 10:30, when the people I love are no longer separated by an ocean, and we get to spend eternity together with Christ.

photo credit: Fest i Juba via photopin (license)