My mind was brought to a memory of some of the farewells too. I can remember the last farewell with one of my sisters - we both fought back tears (and failed) as we said good-bye. We have always had a deep connection and our families mesh so well together. Saying good-bye was difficult enough when I lived in Oklahoma and she in Michigan. Even then we would often cry. Now it's different though. The communication is often limited, and we see each other once per year. This is a lot in comparison to most missionaries. Still, it is difficult.
This makes me wonder what other families feel when saying goodbye and spending so many years apart.
When God calls a family to missions, He asks them to give everything up and trust Him alone. You give up your friends, comfort, family, habits, language, culture, lifestyle, and most of what you own. All of this is for the sake of furthering His Kingdom. Do I think it's worth it? YES! Do I regret any part of it? NO! Would I do it again? In a heartbeat... Still, that does not negate that it is often a difficult road. I am humbled and honored that God would ask me to live this life for Him, and I need Him so desperately - I need Him to be so real each and every day - or I simply would not make it.
So, as I recall the difficult goodbye's, the things we miss out on, I want to encourage you - whoever may be reading this. Do not minimize the impact you can have on a missionary! It does not matter who you are, or what you are doing - if you know someone in the mission field, you can be an incredible encouragement to them! Write them letters, text and email them, send care packages, reply to their messages with encouragement. Those little things mean the world to us.
Do not think you cannot have a part in the adventure they are on - God has called the church to stand behind those who are on the front-lines: your pastor, elders/deacons, leader of you home, and those serving in missions are just a few examples. I cannot express to you how much it means when someone sends an email/letter to us just for the sake of encouraging us. Similarly, when someone says, "I want to send a care package. What do you need/want?" Wow - what an encouragement! Even knowing that it may take months to get here, we are encouraged and blessed in the anticipation. So, if you do not know a missionary yet, go to your church and see who your church is supporting. Then be the voice to tell them to get on board with encouraging that person/family - let them know you care, you miss them, and you stand behind them. This will be a blessing they will not forget!