“So what are your retirement plans?” The question posed by a UFM staff worker visiting me in Moldova struck like a bolt from the blue!
I was preoccupied by the busyness of the work, enjoying strong attachments to a seeming multitude of people, and feeling very much at home in the country and context in which I was serving.
The question came as a shock both to me and to those with whom I was serving. In retrospect this seems slightly absurd given that I was approaching 70! I do however remember giving the question some passing consideration some years previously, when I decided that I would need, when the time arose, to return to the UK. Knowing that those with whom I served in Moldova would gladly have supported me until my last days, I also knew that we were all fully stretched in the work and that it would not be reasonable to burden them with a dependent member.
A difficult transition
So a couple of years later I returned to the UK, but still made visits for two or three months each year to Moldova (prior to COVID-19) and kept in regular contact via Whatsapp.
The first year proved to be mega difficult! I sometimes felt an overwhelming sense of bereavement and loss, which will come as no surprise to all those who have made this transition.
My heart ached to see and to chat to and pray with those I had known. I grieved – and still grieve – the loss of regular direct contact with brothers and sisters who were very dear to me, not least the men and women in the four houses of Casa Mea.
Life had moved on in the UK and friends’ lives had moved on. I was unsure about how to fit in to my home church or what my role should be.
Speaking engagements took me all over the country. I was inwardly moved as I met so many who had prayed for the work and I felt the Lord draw very near during those meetings. It was also possible to pray for, and support in a little way, those preparing to join the work in Moldova and it was wonderful to see God’s hand on them. My interest in mission work all over the world has continued.
“He will hold me fast”
And through it all God held me fast – the One in whom there is no shadow of turning and who has ‘a time for every purpose under heaven’ has kept me and is helping me to adjust. His Word reminds me that we are transitory visitors on this earth wherever he places us and that we are heading to a city which has foundations whose builder and maker is God. We praise him for all that is past and trust him for all that’s to come.
“He’ll not let my soul be lost
Christ will hold me fast
Bought by him at such a cost
He will hold me fast!”