It's wonderful to meet new people all the time and see the energy and enthusiasm they bring to the ship and it's mission. I love helping them find their way - whether it's showing where an office is, who can help them or advising them on what to bring and how much space they'll have. I particularly enjoy connecting them with others when they get here and watching them develop friendships until they feel at home. I get a warm fuzzy feeling every time I see groups of new people sitting together in the cafe, chatting away, looking relaxed and happy. Best job satisfaction ever.
Then again some weeks, it's really hard. Sometimes I feel I've given out a bit too much. Perhaps I haven't taken enough time to exhale and process. But the main reason I feel like this is when someone I've really connected with is leaving.
Tomorrow Ellen and her family are starting their long journey back to Norway and my heart hurts. We have only know each other for two months. But it has been a tough time that we have walked together through. We have shared in many birthday parties, rough seas, Mums bible studies, cups of tea, laundry rage and many frustrations together. We have celebrated our safe arrivals, enjoyed a lovely dinner out in Cape Town and thanked God that our cabin furniture did not attack us!
I struggle to even articulate what made us click - the only thing I can think of is that we were open to sharing in each other's lives during these few weeks. And perhaps that is all you need to make a friendship. Then the more you share, especially if you share your vulnerabilities, the deeper the connection. Kind of like this verse:
Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. (Galatians 6:2 NIV)
So tonight I'm hurting - but I'm only hurting because I know what I'm losing and how precious that is. By investing the time and love in a friendship with Ellen, and she with me, I know that I now have a Norwegian sister. Maybe one that I won't see again on this earth - except on Facebook of course - but nevertheless, a friend for life.
I am not very good at articulating my feelings as I say goodbye to my close friends. I fear that if let my emotions go, I will never reign them back in. So to manage this, I only let them go at the very last minute. So tomorrow morning when I am saying goodbye on the dock at 8 o clock, my tears will flow and my heart will hurt - but it is all worth it. I wouldn't have it any other way. Because I won't be able to express this then, I'm writing it down now.
"Fair winds and following seas" Ellen as you travel home. I will miss you dear friend. Thank you for being such a blessing in my life.