One of The Hardest Things

Blessings abound when you take the chance and go on a mission to a foreign country.  We experienced watching many, many people get the chance to know the truth from the Bible.  It was amazing building friendships and enjoying the chance to live in a new culture.  The weather in Kenya and in South Africa was a blessing all its own.  The skies felt so close at times I thought I could touch the clouds - and the paintings we saw God draw every day in the sky were awe-inspiring.  There were a few difficulties.  I've written about a couple of challenges.  One thing in particular, though, was really quite hard.

Two weeks after we arrived in Nairobi I learned that my great-grandmother had passed away.  She was 93 and an amazing woman.  She went back to night school and got her high school diploma when she was in her 90s.  She received a letter and a flag from the president of the United States honoring her achievement.

We were able to travel home and visit when Nick was about nine months old.  My mother's father had passed away a little while before we were able to go home.  He had cancer.  I did get to speak with him and tell him about Nick and that was a blessing.

My brother and his wife had three children who had a disease that I cannot pronounce.  The oldest, Mary, lived about 4 years.  We got to see her when we went back to visit when Nick was a baby.  Their second girl with that disease died two months after Mary.  And their little boy, Michael, died before his first birthday I think.  My brother's other two daughters, Candice and Ashley are the same ages as Nick and Kati and are great young women!

My mom's mother was in the hospital one time I got to travel to the U.S. for a conference.  She was doing better, after having some surgery, so my mom traveled to New York so that we could see each other and catch up for a couple of days.  Unexpectedly, my grandmother passed away shortly after I returned to South Africa. I felt a bit dazed.  I would have loved to at least be with everyone at her funeral.  God had different plans.

Both of my father's parents died while we lived in South Africa.  I was able to travel back to the U.S. for my grandfather's funeral.  We knew he was very ill and I flew home hoping to perhaps see him first, but he passed away the morning that I arrived.  That was really sad for me, but I am so thankful to have been able to be with my parents and my aunts and uncles during that time.  I am also really happy that Nick and Kati had gotten to spend time with both of them when we had visited earlier.

Tom's grandmother (his father's mother) became ill when we were living in New York a short time while Tom received training for his new administrative position with the church.  We were so blessed to be able to spend time with her before her passing and to be with Tom's parents and family for the memorial service.  Tom's grandfather passed away several years later.  We had also had the opportunity to visit him and I am so thankful that we have photos of Nicholas with both of them.

It was hard to not be with my family when all these things happened.  It was difficult to know everyone was hurting and I couldn't give a hug.  It was a cost of being overseas.  I actually feel so blessed that I was close to all my grandparents and was able to enjoy their company and lives for so long in my life.  I was 27 before I lost a grandparent I was close to.  While I don't regret our decision to live in Kenya and South Africa all those years, I do so wish there were times I could have been in two places at once or that I was really wealthy and could have traveled back and forth at will.

Family is precious.  I realize that more and more the older I get. The relationships we have make our lives richer and more blessed than we can imagine.  I don't dwell on this very often, but learning to accept and process these losses was an important part of our story.  I thought you should know. 

Lori ZieglerComment