Saturday, July 7, 2007

Today is a day of very sad endings and very happy beginnings.

On Thursday, we had a PFO talent show, where a good friend and I did a version of Abbott and Costello’s “Who’s on First?” We called it “Who is the first grade teacher?”

That night, an advisor and a home-office employee sang a song called “Little Girl.” While I’m not little, and while you may debate that, I know for a fact I am not a girl. However, the song hit me right between the eyes. The chorus is as follows: “You can travel the great wide open, if you gotta go. When you get there, the words might be spoken. You can travel the great wide open, if you’re all alone. But if you leave me, my heart might be broken.”

One of the verses is, “You can slip through the back door of life, hoping that no one will forget you’re alive. Whatever you may see can bring you back to me.”

Needless to say, as I’ve listened to that song more and more, the tears always seem to surface. It’s tough to go.

Moreover, that night, the kids sang a song and the chorus was, “Here’s goodbye, here’s so long, I must go and follow love.” These are children the age of my niece who are leaving it all behind to go abroad to serve God. Dry eyes were few and far between that night.

Last night was our big gala dinner and goodbye ceremony, and as the night went on, it became tougher and tougher not to lose it, because the bonds that I formed with some people over the past twelve days were so unbelievably deep. After the dinner, I penned a poem called “An Ode to PFO” (PFO is an acronym for Pre-Field Orientation). I include it below with the hopes that if you don’t get everything, you’ll at least get the gist of why it was tough to go:

An Ode to PFO
July 6, 2007
Eric J. Zanger
Written the night before Pre-Field Orientation finished,
after shedding tears at the ceremony earlier on in the day.

Oh the places we’ll go, oh the places we’ll go,
And so we came hungry to PFO.
And while the first line could have been said by a moose,
Our teachers were better than one Dr. Seuss.

We had Libby and Susan and Joe and Dave,
And Tammy and Mark, oh how very brave
He had to be to jump from a plane,
And now he has a tree as the bane
Of his existence. But better by far
Is the story of Libby having to hit the bar
For water, though she bowed and flailed,
And if it were me, I would have bailed.

But there was learning to do, and that’s what we did,
And we learned about a third culture kid.
And about the RAFT we must build to leave right
And to not let our anger linger over a night.

We learned about E’s and I’s and P’s and J’s
Until our brains were a foggy haze.
We learned about passion and purity and doing what’s right,
We realized that if we’re going to make it, we better fight
The good fight of faith, yeah that’s what we’ll do,
And God will equip us for that battle too.
And so, brace up now, we’ve got a world to reach,
And all this happens because we can teach.

“I love PFO, but I hate it too,”
Became the refrain of some people who
Made great friends here and hate to leave,
We’re now like our students; we know we must grieve.

So goodbye Sonic and Memphis and the Fellowship Hall.
Goodbye meals and advisors and playing basketball.
Goodbye PAC and the pews as our seat,
They were even our bed when we really were beat.

Goodbye SBEC, you were such a great host,
But I think what we’ll really miss most
Are the people who in twelve days
Were able to join in one holy gaze
At our king and redeemer and the perfect one.
To our LORD, Jesus Christ, God’s only son.

So goodbye, my dear friends, I’ll miss you so bad.
This was the greatest dorm I’ve ever had.
So as you go out on your way,
I have one last thing I must say:

Wherever you go, whatever you do,
Whatever Satan throws at you,
And when you think you’re at the height of your woe,
Embrace the love that never lets go.

Lean on Christ—He’s all you need!
Embrace His love and daily feed
On the Word, then go and claim
The world for God, in Jesus’ name.

I read the poem aloud in front of everyone earlier today. Again, the goodbyes and the realization that I will probably never see any of these people again until glory shook me. I cry now just thinking about it.

But, as I was leaving this morning, there was something fantastic going on. Roughly 1,000 miles north, a man stood waiting, poised at the front of a church. His bride walked down, and a relationship that I have had the pleasure to watch was taken to the next level. Brother Markus Berger, I wish you the best. It was a pleasure to be your next door neighbor, your brother in Christ, and your friend. I count it all joy. May you and Anjali have the greatest marriage imaginable—may you mirror Christ, and may she be the church. I love you both. Congratulations!

To the rest of you, I’m back in Chicago, and I’m leaving in three weeks. Be close to your cell phones.

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