Our last week in Afghanistan was full of goodbyes. From past experience, we know that closure is important and saying goodbye to teammates and our local friends is part of that. Our goodbyes in Bamian included long talks, good food, handing over responsibilities, and a few hugs and tears. Then we were off to Kabul.
In Kabul, it was another round of goodbyes with local friends and our staff there. On Wednesday, we had a lunch at the office so we could say goodbye to our local staff. Both the office and airport staff were there. Most Afghan goodbye parties include three things: good food, cake, and speeches. Sometimes there are presents.
For lunch, we had kebobs, mantu, and qabli with fruit and firini (custard type dish) on the side. It was fun eating all our favorite afghan foods. Our friend Sandi, also made chocolate cake because as I said it is not a goodbye party without a cake.
As we were eating, the speeches began. Many of the local staff stood up and told Noel how he had helped them and wished him well. The staff also wanted to make sure Noel had enough memories of Afghanistan which is why he ended up with two Karzai coats, one Mosoud hat, and a dust mal (man’s scarf). Here are a few pictures of the fun.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a good party unless the guest of honor-Noel gave a speech too. Even though Noel can speak in Dari, he had Jawad translate so he could speak from his heart the words he wanted them to hear. He told our staff how they were like family. In our seven years here, Afghanistan had given us so much more than we had given to Afghanistan. He told the staff that every time we remembered Afghanistan, we would pray for them and their country. Goodbyes are hard and this one was not different.
It was blessing to have this time with our staff. I was able to have some time with the ladies on our team that live in Kabul and the ladies who work for PACTEC. Truly, this team both local and expat are like family to us. One of my hardest goodbyes was to my teacher friend from ISK. It has been a hard year for her family with ISK closing, she is without work, and now her husband has cancer. As we talked and had tea, I was reminded of what a good friend she has been to me-a gift from God.
Before we left, we were also able to say goodbye to Mirwais who was our chaikidor for many years. He is now a chaikidor at the Kabul office and doing well there. He even caught a guy trying to steal a battery from one of our local worker’s cars a week or so ago. One afternoon, Mirwais brought his two girls to see us. Their names are Sadaf and Sona. They were very shy but it was still great to see them.
Leaving Afghanistan was hard even thought it was the right decision. Currently we are in the UK on our way back to the states. We still don’t know what is next. Pray with us as we seek God’s guidance.
For more thoughts on us leaving, here is a post at my blog TJ’s musing called This Time I am Leaving.