As the End Begins

We began packing yesterday morning. Before coffee or tea, before breakfast, before we had a chance to breathe and then catch our breath, we were removing books from shelves and pictures from the walls. “And so it begins” I thought. Compared to what we had to do to come here and the dismantling of our homes and lives in Boston, this is nothing. But it is still hard. It still hurts. I still prefer creating a home to deconstructing one.

The weekend was full of travel and play with 23 Kurdish students and young adults who are volunteers at a local NGO. We piled into a bus with questionable shocks and took to the roads of Kurdistan. We saw rivers and mountains, hiked to Neanderthal Caves and drove through the city of the three wise men. We ate good food and danced to Kurdish music. We had discussions on goals and why we are here and played games. Laughter was the background to every event and meal. It was the perfect way to spend our last weekend in Kurdistan. All together we traveled over 15 hours in a bus across Kurdistan and all of us are richer for it.

We never expected to form these close friendships. We did not know how much we would laugh, that we would find our people among the younger generation in Kurdistan. We did not know that they would support us by bringing medicine when we were sick; heaters when we were cold; invitations when we were lonely; and laughter when we most needed it.

The future in Kurdistan is bright because of these people. They are men and women who are smart, funny, wise beyond their years, and compassionate. They recognize the hypocrisy in their government and in their institutions, and they are fighting to change first themselves, and then their community. We could not be more honored that they have chosen us to be their friends. We could not be more grateful for their willingness to enter into our lives with so much generosity and joy.

Saturday morning we awoke to bright sunshine and the tasks at hand: sorting, distributing, packing. We walked up and down stairs to pack a truck to deliver to one friend who is getting married, another friend who is Iranian and far from her own home comforts, and a local NGO. With every picture taken down and every piece of furniture given away we know that the end has begun.

How do you measure ten months?

In picnics,

In sunsets,

In calls to prayer,

In cups of chai,

In centimeters, in kilometers, in laughter, in strife.

Seasons of Love from Rent (adapted)

When we first found out that we would have to leave the cry of my heart was “Why did we only get ten months? Why?” Now, I think “We got ten months in Kurdistan. We are so fortunate.”

Ten months of laughter and joy; ten months of learning some of the challenges that Kurds work within and around. Ten months of Ranya Bazaar and Cafe 64; ten months of invitations and English talk club. Ten months of Toranj restaurant and our dear Iranian friends. Ten months of unforgettable conversations and amazing food; ten months of learning what advocacy is and is not. Ten months of some of the most challenging work interactions we have had in our many years of working in four countries and on three continents. Ten months of being offended and of causing offense. Ten months of feeling both understood and misunderstood. Ten months of this small apartment that is chilling cold in the winter and delightfully cool in the summer. Ten months of creating a home and a community.

Ten months of picnics, of sunsets, of calls to prayer, and cups of tea. Ten months of centimeters, kilometers, laughter and strife.

How do we measure our time here? It defies the metric and the imperial systems of measurement so we won’t try.

We just know that we are forever richer by Kurdistan.

15 thoughts on “As the End Begins

  1. This was a lovely leave-taking, and it did my heart good. I have had some bad ones, and your attitude was a balm to my soul. God bless you and your endeavors there. May the fruit multiply under God’s gracious hand.

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  2. I am just sorry! The pain of the good-byes is SO real, but I too am grateful for the time you had….and for the ripples that will come from that which you might not know this side of eternity!

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  3. I am so sorry to know you are leaving Kurdistan where you are so needed and loved. I can only imagine your disappointment. I have followed an extended Kurdish family from the tents in Greece to a home in Germany for three years. I visit them every few months. I love the Kurds and I am sad each time I leave them. We talk often but I just want to hug them and of course share good laughs and some chai. My prayer for you is that God fills this void in a special way.

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  4. Oh! I know this is hard and my heart aches for you. Seems like you were just hitting your stride when you got the news.

    Please don’t be upset with me, but I can’t help thinking maybe I will soon get to wrap my arms around you and tell you in person how grateful I am for you.

    There’s that.

    Love you.

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  5. I’ve been following your story with great interest, so sorry you have to leave suddenly when you were so invested in lives there. Praying for grace for the transition ahead, both the travels and building a new life ‘back home’.

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    1. I am so grateful for this comment. Thank you. To know that of all the many options online that you chose to read my story is so kind and gracious. To know you took the time to comment even more so. Just thank you.

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