As a senior in high school, so many eras in my life are coming to an end. I’ve said goodbye to sports, to teachers, and soon to my friends and even Chapel Hill itself. But the goodbye that I’ll have to say this week stings so much more than all of those.
I was leaving family time tonight when a little boy named Seroysha pulled my arm and tried to drag me away from the door. As he tugged on my arm, he exclaimed, “I’m never letting you go back to the United States!” He shouted this joking yet heart wrenching phrase multiple times before hugging me as hard as he could for what’ve must been the 30th time that day.
What I didn’t say to Seryosha is that all of me isn’t really going back to the United States. As corny as it sounds, part of my heart will ALWAYS be in Slobodskoy. I am the woman I am today because of the love I have experienced here.
Psalm 27:13 says, “I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.”
I am confident that I have seen the goodness of the Lord in Slobodskoy. The goodness of the Lord is in Nastya’s hugs, in Timothy’s smile, and in Anton’s fervid weightlifting. It’s in Patsy’s poise in difficult situations, Ramil’s extra long letter to his sponsor, and Sveta’s tireless effort and leadership. It’s in Luke’s spontaneous breakdancing and I’m pretty sure it’s even in Galina’s “short” tours. I wholeheartedly believe that there are very few places on earth where you can experience agape love, sacrifice, mercy, and unadulterated friendship like you can in Slobodskoy. I am so very grateful to have been taught what it means to love here.
So, while I know it’s going to break me to leave Slobodskoy this week, my soul is still. Because the Lord is alive and well in the land of the living. He is risen indeed.