To a Friend Nine Days before We Fly Out Again

Dear friend:

I’m so glad we got to say Hi a while back, but sorry we never made it to your house for dinner. When we landed three months ago it seemed like we’d be here forever, but then the time went by so fast. We’re all busy with so many things, and we had so many places we needed to be.

You asked about us getting together for coffee next week, but I don’t think I’m going to be able to make it. We’re kind of booked up with so many last-minute things to take care of, and then we’ve set aside a couple days to get away and catch our breaths before we head out. I’m afraid coffee will need to wait until next time.

And you wondered about seeing us off at the airport. That’s so nice of you, but we’re trying to get our goodbyes done before we pull up to the curb and have to fix our minds on tickets and luggage and passports.

Speaking of luggage, we’ve been making a lot of Wal-Mart runs for things we need to stock up on that we can’t get overseas. It’s going to be tight, as it always is, and we’re weighing our bags daily to make sure we don’t go over our allotments. So at this point, I’m afraid we’re going to have to turn down your other offer, to send back some gifts for the kids. (Don’t tell them we said that.) We so much appreciate your kindness and I don’t want to sound ungrateful, but we’re already having to leave some things behind. So sorry.

We’ve got a small send-off planned for after church on Sunday, so I hope we’ll be able to see you then. But if not . . . we’ll still be able to connect after we’re gone. I know that it’s hard to stay in touch when there’s so much going on and we’re so far apart. We’ll be sending out monthly newsletters. They’re not quite face-to-face conversations, but when you get one, you can always send us an email just to say Hello. That’s how we know somebody’s reading them.

We can talk over the phone, too. It’s pretty easy and we can do it for free. We can even set up a video chat if you’d like. Let’s do our best to communicate . . . but let’s not make any promises we won’t be able to keep. (I tend to remember those things, and it’s hard when it doesn’t pan out.)

I’ve talked with others in our shoes about how hectic it is before leaving, and they tell me it’s difficult to navigate for them, too. So is the guilt about the missed opportunities—from both sides. Having said that, though, we all don’t handle it the same way, and I surely can’t speak for everyone. Maybe somebody else will want a last-minute goodbye party at the airport Starbucks.

Thanks so much for listening. We’ve got a lot of emotions swirling around in our heads. On Sunday, if you see us crying, it’s not because we don’t want to go. And if you see us laughing, it’s not because we don’t want to stay. And if we don’t see each other at all, that’s OK. We know that you love us, and we love you. Thanks for caring so much, and for understanding, and for being a dear friend.

[photo: “coffee lover,” by Camila Tamara Silva Sepúlveda, used under a Creative Commons license]

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Craig Thompson

Craig and his wife, Karen, along with their five children, served as missionaries in Taipei, Taiwan, for ten years before returning to southwest Missouri. His experiences, as well as conversations with other cross-cultural workers, have made him more and more interested in member care and the process of transitioning between cultures. Craig blogs at

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