I could tell so many stories of saying permanent goodbyes and truly expecting to never see that person again, yet here are a few that we did end up seeing again.
Back in the day…It was 1979. Jan and I had been in Nigeria for ten years. We were moving to Liberia to start a new work. Six years later I said goodbye once again to my friend and colleague, Bulas Ali, who had taken over our work in Nigeria. After sixteen years in Africa, we were headed back to the States to take up a new career. Each time I thought it might well be the last time I would ever meet him this side of heaven. Less than five years later he was on a six-month sabbatical in the United States. I had a chance to introduce him to the art of rabbit hunting. In 2010 I was on a trip to Nigeria totally unrelated to our previous work and found myself eating food in his compound.
I could tell so many stories of saying permanent goodbyes and truly expecting to never see that person again. In 2016 our house steward and his wife, Filibus and Tabitha Usman, from Nigeria, speaking literally no English, came and stayed with us for two weeks. I had promised that we would pay for his trip if he was able to obtain a passport and visitor’s visa, both of which I was sure he could never accomplish. We had said goodbye in 1979. After multiple rejections, he obtained a ten-year multiple entry visa. Thirty-seven years later they were our guests in Michigan.
I graduated from Michigan State University in 1968. One of my best friends and roommate was John Dunham. My wife and I left for Africa. Two years later we returned on leave and attended his wedding and met his wife Ruth for the first time. That was the last time we spoke and saw each other…until August 22 of this year, 47 years later. There is something very remarkable about sharing a life event(s) and then coming back together to relive, recount, and remember what had long been forgotten. Every person I have had a relationship has built something into my life.
My intention is to have many deep and life-long relationships. This means making an investment of time, energy, and even money. Jan and I have had the unique opportunity to meet dozens, if not hundreds of people around the globe, most of whom I probably will never see again in this life except when it happens.
My plea is that our short connection, whatever it might have been, was the start of what can, could, and may well be, the best thing that ever happened to both of us. If a donor, you are never a donor but a partner, if you are a part of our team, you are not just a colleague but in a blossoming friendship, if you are a recipient of what we do here in North America or in Africa, Asia, or Central America, you are part of our family. It is a good thing that there is an eternity because I need that time to build deeper relationships. Words are inadequate to express what your relationship has and continues to mean to us, however short.
Lou for the Business Connect Team