Saturday, April 12, 2014

Day 34: We will be Reunited

"But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, ‘You know nothing at all! You do not understand that it is better for you to have one man die for the people than to have the whole nation destroyed.’ He did not say this on his own, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus was about to die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but to gather into one the dispersed children of God." 
-John 11:49-52

I remember when I met all the other YASCers for the first time. We spent a long weekend together in Florida way back in February 2013.  It seems like a long time ago now, but that weekend turned out to be pretty pivotal in my life, and I'm guessing the same is true for all of us.  That was when we learned all the details about the program we're currently serving in, and it was when most of us decided to answer God's call to mission service with a more or less resounding 'yes!'

One of the people whom the Church brought to help teach us about the YASC program was a former YASCer from a few years ago named Robin.  When she talked about her experience in YASC, Robin said something that has stuck with me in all the months since and has particularly been on my mind recently.  She talked about how difficult it was to come home after her YASC year and how the only thing that comforted her was looking forward to the kingdom of heaven.  At the time, I remember thinking she had to be wrong - surely it is harder to leave one's family and friends and home and country for a year than it is to come back to them?  And what does she mean about the kingdom of heaven?

Fast forward 14 months.  Here I am loving every frustrating, exhilarating, swiftly fleeting second of my time in South Africa.  It has been such a privilege to share my nursing knowledge somewhere it is so desperately needed.  It has been awesome to meet my friends and coworkers and to spend time exploring and falling in love with this incredibly diverse and stunning country.  And now I'm realizing that Robin was right.  I believe that leaving South Africa might be one of the hardest things I'll ever do.  You see, when I left my home and my family to come here, I always knew I would come back to them.  But when I leave South Africa, there is no guarantee that I will ever come back.  I hope I will, but let's be realistic, it's a long and expensive flight and life gets busy and even if I do come back for a visit sometime, it won't be the same as living here for a year.  The people I've met here, the patients I serve, the carers I work beside, the friends I share meals with, these people have been my entire life for the past year and I am, quite frankly, freaking out at the thought of leaving them.  I guess you could say I'm feeling like one of the 'dispersed children of God'.

Today's readings are very comforting to me, which might be ironic since the gospel passage, taken in context, is leading directly to the crucifixion, but the message I'm getting right now is one of hope and reassurance.  What sticks out to me from these passages is God's promise that we will be reunited.  He will gather His kingdom from everywhere it is scattered in this huge world, and we all shall be one.  I think that's exactly what Robin was trying to say about the kingdom of heaven all those months ago.  Goodbye is not really goodbye.  We will be together again, me and my family at home and my family abroad and all the YASCers and all their people from all their placements and everyone reading this blog.  God will gather us all together in the end.  That's His promise.

Keri Geiger is 27 years old and from the Diocese of Virginia.  
She is a registered nurse in the United States and is working as 
the coordinator for inpatient services at Hawston Hospice in Hawston, South Africa.

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