The Unfinished Conversation

In certain seasons, my time is divided between being mom, working, and helping friends prepare for their furloughs and friends who are ‘going finish’ (They will leave the country and don’t plan to return). These friends need very practical help like cleaning out the kitchen (a good friend tackles the fridge), helping pack boxes to go into storage, or watching their kids. They need that honest friend who says, “Do NOT pack that faded, hole-y T-shirt! You’ll be at Target in a week with Starbucks in your hand and can get a new one! Hey! You could buy ten of the same one—and send me one while you’re at it.”

While we work, we talk about everything furlough-related … what restaurant they’ll eat at first … what they’re most looking forward to about being back in their home country … and what they’re most nervous about. We talk about how the kids are coping and swap advice on dealing with transition. We set our prediction about what’s going to happen here in our little community during the next year, what school activities are coming up, or what will happen at work.

We promise to pray for each other.

We don’t promise to keep in touch. Having a foot in both worlds is hard and nearly impossible to navigate well. We’ve all tried it and we’ve likely all failed.

The morning of our friend’s flight arrives and, per tradition, we rise early and head out to our airstrip. Typical for this time of year, the fog covers our center like a heavy blanket. Even in those early hours we talk about all sorts of things—how everyone slept or what’s the connecting flight for today. All the while we are eyeing the sky, waiting for the sun to break through and lift the fog.

The fog is lifting and the time comes when the pilot approaches the gate and says, “Five minutes before boarding!”

The conversations quiet. The hugs … and sometimes tears … begin.

We watch our friends load the plane and wave for one last time. At least for now, our conversation is put on hold. In a year (or more!), we’ll hit the Resume button and pick right up where we left off.

Jaime Brewer

Jaime Brewer

Jaime and Jason, her husband, have been supporting the work of Bible translation in Papua New Guinea since 2013. Jason serves as a fixed wing pilot. Jaime splits her time between raising their three children and working at Ukarumpa International School.