Never shall I forget the partings I have had in my life. They are such a rending thing I shall never want to repeat them.
Plymouth was God's will, so there was peace in my heart as we prepared to leave Trondheim. But, it did not utterly cancel the pain of parting. It was so depressing to say good-bye.
And then I became quite seriously ill. It was quite plain I had the recurrence of thyrotoxicosis symptoms but I ignored them initially; we were so busy moving from one place and settling down in another. Soon enough the disease developed that I barely had sleep. When I laid down I felt my heart palpitations and noticed tremors in my hands and body. My bowel frequency increased to 4-6 times a day and my eyes watered and burned so much I would rather having them closed. After examination [this was in June] the doctor recommended a minimum of 12-months treatment with anti-thyroid drugs, during which I was advised not to plan to conceive whilst thyrotoxic because of the high risk of miscarriage.
I have not been imagining that I missed Trondheim and its people, have I? :')
With medication, I am slowly regaining my health - and my enthusiasm. And I have also met a few mother-friends.
Our house is at the end of a row of houses, which share a common private pathway away and safe from traffic. Some of our neighbours are families with small children. I have met V, with her three girls, H with a 2.5 year old girl with her 2.5 mths old twin-girls, T with a girl called E who is a little older than Hana, & some older boys and girls who belong to other families. At late afternoon just before "tea" (they call dinner "tea" here :)), the mothers chit-chat while we watch the children play together on the pathway. We are really thankful for the pathway that helps connect people. At toddler-groups in different churches, I met H and R, each with two boys. There is also L and her family of 4 who live in the countryside, and then S, a homeschooling mother of 5, whose homeschooling home I frequent at least once a week. It is not uncommon here to keep the young ones mostly home until they are at least four or five years old, so this presents opportunities for Sethia and Hana to make friends even outside schools/nurseries/child-cares.
I believe a place grew to be special to us because of the memories of friendships that we made. That was why each parting that I had was more painful than one before.
Have we made friends in Plymouth? I remembered I wrote this several years ago, when I met Adi as a friend and brother in Christ:
"Friendship nowadays appears to be a broad and common interest, but it is ones with you which finally urged me to write about it. These friendships I do not make, these friendships I find myself in, these friendships spring. I find them, or rather not I, but the God in me and you. You my friends, come to me unsought, God gave you to me. A friend is not gained, a friend is given, a friend is a gift. I have always wondered, what brings two friends together? How does one become friend of the other? I cringe at the idea of discernment or taste. We often talk about choosing friends, in fact friends are self-elected, or more aptly, divine-elected. As Jesus says, you have not chosen Me but I have chosen you, friends have not chosen one another but He has chosen them for one another.
To love is to ask not to be loved in return, but to be a friend to you is to have you have me as your friend too. When the goodwill and delight and tenderness and warm caring in and for the other cease to be reciprocal, friendship ceases. With strength of God’s love, I can choose to love. But I cannot choose to make friends. I cannot make friendships. People are tied by admiration, by hope, by fear, by duty, by circumstances, by hate, by love, but friends are drawn together to each other by something more than that. There is some spontaneity and absence of calculation involved in it, a leaning of mind rather than an awareness of what is to be contributed or to be derived from it. I admit I used to put you on the pedestal, I knew then it was not a friendship. When I stop looking up or down at you, and when I start looking at you yourself, you become my friend.
Only God can turn evil to good, and only God can wreak havoc in the corrupted course of nature, even if that slice of nature is called the self of weak human being, the weak you and me. I have to be patient with whatever wrong I cannot make right in you and me. If I cannot bend my will to what I would wish to be, how can I bend your will? I cannot want you to be severely corrected while I do not correct myself. But we do not have to be perfect to correct, to counsel, to advise each other. No man is perfect, no man is without fault, no man is without burden, no man is sufficient on his own and no man is wise enough. It is our dues therefore, to support and build each other. No gift is too trivial and no man is too good for the meanest service. Each and everyone are a student and a teacher." (http://reposeinthee.blogspot.co.uk/2007/06/letter-to-friends.html)
Have we really made friends in Plymouth, I asked myself again and again. The answer has been, I am hopeful. GOD has chosen them for us when He appointed us to Plymouth.
"I really hope that you get good friends, spiritual friends in Plymouth, by patience, watching and praying. I think you can wait for the godly friends from God." -EF
Make us Thy labourers,
Let us not dream of ever looking back,
Let not our knees be feeble, hands be slack,
O make us strong to labour, strong to bear,
From the rising of the morning till the stars appear.
Make us Thy warriors,
On whom Thou canst depend to stand the brunt
Of any perilous charge of any front,
Give to us the skill to handle sword and spear
From the rising of the morning till the stars appear.
Not far from us, those stars,
Unseen as angels and yet looking through
The quiet air, the day's transparent blue.
What shall we know, and feel, and see, and hear
When the sunset colours kindle and the stars appear?
From prayer that asks that I may be
Sheltered from winds that beat on Thee,
From fearing when I should aspire,
From faltering when I should climb higher,
From silken self, O Captain, free
Thy soldier would follow Thee
From subtle love of softening things,
From easy choices, weakenings,
(Not thus are spirits fortified,
Not this way went the Crucified,)
From all the dims Thy Calvary,
O Lamb of God, deliver me.
Give me the love that leads the way,
The faith that nothing can dismay
The hope no disappointments tire
The passion that will burn like fire,
Let me not sink to be a clod:
Make me Thy fuel, Flame of God.
Blest be the dear uniting love
That will not let us part:
Our bodies may far off remove,
We still are one in heart.
Joined in one Spirit to our Head,
Where He appoints we go,
And still in Jesus' footsteps tread,
And show His praise below.
O may we ever walk in Him,
And nothing know beside,
Nothing desire, nothing esteem,
But Jesus crucified.
Closer and closer let us cleave
To His beloved embrace,
Expect His fullness to receive,
And grace to answer grace.
While thus we walk with Christ in light
Who shall our souls disjoin,
Souls, which himself vouchsafes t’ unite
In fellowship divine!
We all are one who him receive,
And each with each agree,
In him the one, the truth, we live,
Blest point of unity!
Partakers of the Saviour’s grace,
The same in mind and heart,
Nor joy, nor grief, nor time, nor place,
Nor life, nor death can part:
But let us hasten to the day
Which shall our flesh restore,
When death shall all be done away,
And bodies part no more.