| Greetings to my sponsoring churches!
This will be my final letter to you as your missionary, but I hope that
you’ll soon have another missionary/missionary family writing
you. I have completed my “Farewell Tour” to the
hospitals we are partnering with in Tanzania, Liberia, and India. My
colleague Mike went with me Liberia, having visited India and Tanzania
earlier. We have gone over the needs and wishes of each institution,
and I have said my goodbyes. He is ready to serve the hospitals and I
am ready to move on to whatever the Holy Spirit has in mind for me at
this point in my life. She hasn't made it clear yet, but I trust She
will do that soon.
I spent two weeks in Liberia where it was hot and humid – and it was also mango season. Fresh mangoes almost make the heat worth it! The road to Phebe was amazing, but to Curran, it was as bumpy as ever and I will not miss that! I will miss the pastor and people of St. Luke's Lutheran Church. The music there is always wonderful and they gave me a very warm goodbye.
Then it was time to return to India. My journey was pretty uneventful. Security at Monrovia Airport checked our temperatures before we went into the airport and again just before we got on the plane. They have had an additional case of Ebola, hence the additional temp checks. It was a long trip from Freetown, Sierra Leone to Accra, Ghana to Nairobi, Kenya (with a 16 hour stay in the airport) to Mumbai, India to Chennai, India and then by car to Vellore.
Since being back in Vellore, I have been saying goodbye to friends I have worked with and gotten to know in the time I spent in India. And my friends and co-workers had a service to say goodbye to me as well. The service was amazing. Despite it being May, and a time that so many are on leave (because it is the hottest time of the year) Dr. Reena had gathered a wonderful group and they spoke about our work together and my contribution. Again, more credit than I deserve - but nice to hear. Chitirai was there with his family – I told the story of his accident on the railroad tracks and getting his new legs. Three of our original volunteers were there. Saroja was there (my maid from the beginning), two Missionaries of Charity, Fr. Johnnie, and Sr. Victima were there. Colleagues from Radiation Therapy, former neighbors, and many friends. It was touching and brought up so many memories! Besides Reena, I was very moved by the words from Sunil Chandy, the director of Christian Medical College. He referred to me as John the Apostle – make that apostle with a small “a.”. I felt very appreciated by CMC. It was a very meaningful evening. I even got the chance to preach and I preached on healing – healing in palliative care – and miracles, large and small. At the end of the service, I was draped in garlands. The smell was wonderful! Different people from different parts of my life here placed a garland of wonderful smelling, but very hot, jasmine around my neck.
It would have been very nice to make a “Farewell Tour” of all the churches that have sponsored me over the years, but that would be very costly and time consuming, so let me just make a promise instead. I will continue to pray for all of you. I will pray that you may be led by the Holy Spirit to serve in whatever way you are needed. I hope you will remember me in your prayers too. Thanks for all of your support and thanks to my sister Jan (aka Newsletter Composer) for helping me keep in touch. Peace, Namaste, and Aloha. John