In order to help the kids adjust to the change of Renate leaving and me coming, at the beginning of 2013 I started coming once a month to San José to help with the Metro program. I had volunteered with Metro during the summer of 2011 while I was doing a children at risk training at the YWAM base. My first day, back in February, a 12 year old girl ran up to me and said, "Karen! You're back!" I couldn't believe she remembered me, let alone my name. Then she said, "You left and you never came back. Why didn't you ever come back?"
I feel like there are so many kids who could ask me the same question. When I stop and think about it, I realize that I have served hundreds of kids in several locations. And I don't ever go back- when God moves me on, I move on. But that doesn't mean it's easy for the kids, or for me. I worked at a children's home in Texas and was very invested in several girls that lived with me. Everyone knew from the beginning that I would only be there a few years. My commitment seemed long, but in the lifespan of a child it was pretty short. When I was about to leave one of the girls told me, "You're just like everyone else. You come and you say that you love us, and then you leave."
Wow. It's hard. And here I am again with a new set of kids- new names to learn, to families to get to know, and new people to love. It's actually pretty emotionally exhausting. To let go of the old, and move on to the new. When I'm doing visitations in the new neighborhood, I can't help but wish I were in the neighborhoods of Jacó doing visitations there. Not that I'm not happy about where I am and the new opportunities that God has given me- but it's not like I'm moving from one job to another. My job is about people- and relationships take time and trust to build.
So I'm praying for grace. Just as Paul spoke to Timothy, "Timothy, my dear son, be strong through the grace that God gives you in Christ Jesus," I'm praying those same words over myself. I know this is a life long thing- because in one year when Renate comes back and God moves me on, I will say goodbye and then hello yet again. And I know it's only by the grace of God that I can move in and out of communities, making a difference in the lives of one family and one child at a time.