Thursday, December 27, 2007

Saying Good Bye, Saying Hello

Some goodbyes can be hard. Take leaving San Diego for instance. We left San Diego yesterday after 14 amazing days of resting, enjoying the sights, and being given opportunities to serve, and it was sad to leave this fun place behind. It also meant we were saying goodbye to California after 37 days of new and exciting experiences. We truly felt that our time here was a great gift from God via his servants at World Impact, and we praise him for it.

But there are other times when saying goodbye is fun. Like when you tackle a big pile of gravel as a family and get to say "goodbye" to it when you are finished. We hauled it, spread it, and used it to fill in low spots on the yard of one of the WI missionaries. Through our interactions with the gravel and our Christmas service project of saying "goodbye" to five garbage cans full of junk that we pulled out of a crawlspace, we discovered that when 6 people work together on a project, they can really get a lot accomplished! So in a sense we said "hello" to a new form of Dueck 6 team bonding - effective manual labor, which we hope to use in Emo when we work on our new place.

This past Friday we said hello to place that we hadn't seen in 10 years. As a family we all hopped on the trolley and headed to Tijuana, Mexico, where Lorianne, Lois and I had been with Lois' sister Elaine when Lorianne was just a baby. We had a great day there as a family, shopping, seeing the sights, sharing some of the resources we have with those who are in need, and just enjoying learning more about the Mexican culture.

How to say hello and goodbye at the same time - straddle the border!

Saying hello to our new look Mexican Princess!

It was amazing what this mother daughter team could do in about 20 minutes.

My Dad bought me a name ring when I was kid, and I was so excited to have the chance to do the same for my kids. It took the artist about 5 minutes to carve each name in the ring, and it only cost $6 a ring! Lois encouraged me to get a new one for myself so mine says "Dueck 6" on it.

The famous "Tijuana Zebra" (which to the trained eye looks very much like a donkey that is painted white and black).

How NOT to say goodbye to Mexico on a Friday night - this was the lineup of cars trying to get across back into the USA. We just walked into Mexico (through no customs line at all - you just walk across) in the morning, and walked back around supper time. The foot line up was waaay shorter, and only took about 5 minutes to go through.

As a family, we also said hello to some new Christmas traditions this year. Our children all learned verses to do with the Christmas story, and we prayed together that God would give us a chance to use them to glorify him. WI was having a Kids' Christmas club in two Hispanic apartment blocks on Dec 19, and we were given the opportunity to give our gifts to God by doing a family drama. I wrote and narrated the play, Lois did the costumes and got the kids on and off the "stage," and they all acted and said their verses.

We also played some games with the kids and helped with a craft, which reminded the kids that God keeps his promises, especially the promise to send a Savior, who would save us from our sins. It was great to be working with children again, and really encouraging to see our kids get right in there. Joseph even said right after craft time, "helping is so much fun!"

Another new tradition we started was celebrating Jesus' birthday on the 24th instead of the 25th. We gave out family gifts to encourage our team unity, served together, and went to church in the evening. It was a meaningful day, and also allowed us to celebrate Lorriane on her actual birthday, Dec 25th. It was a special day of saying hello to our grownup 11 year old, who is maturing in her faith, in her relationships with her family, and her desire to make an impact in the world. We did lots of exciting things to make the day "all about her," but I will let her tell you about them.

This past week I personally decided to say goodbye to a bad habit I have developed over the past 6 years or so. It is the sin of not playing enough with my kids. While we were on the beach at Coronado Island on the weekend, I played some scoop catch with Joseph, and we had a blast. The Holy Spirit reminded me that I had had a bag full of sports equipment (including scoops) in my basement for years that I had pulled out for church events, but had never used with my children. God graciously allowed me to see my sin of neglect, and I am thankful that my kids are not so old that I can't make it up to them.

Is there anything you need to say "goodbye" to as you end 2007? A bad habit, a hurtful attitude toward someone, or a grudge that you just need ask forgiveness for? And how about saying "hello" to a kinder, gentler, more God-centered, Bible-loving, grateful person in 2008? It is possible, you know, not because of our great efforts or wisdom, but because God has allowed us to draw near to him because of Christ:

"But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been
brought near by the blood of Christ." Eph 2:13

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