With only a few lamps to illuminate the darkness, sounds of sobbing filled the vast expanse that the light could not. The bridge that stretched over a dried up lake had more water flowing over it than it had water passing under it. One by one the mourners filed past, expressing their deep gratitude along with their dreaded goodbyes.
Children’s camp was coming to a close, the counselors had just sung their farewell song to the campers, and now we stood on a bridge between the chapel and the refeitorio, hugging and crying with each camper as they made their way from the evening service to our last supper. One of the little girls who had tried to avoid my camera all week was bawling when she got to me, and she spread her arms really wide and said in English, “I really like you!” Another one of the boys wouldn’t leave my side rest of the evening.
Ugh, I’m starting to cry right now just thinking about all the kids I got to camp with that week. I don’t know when I’ll get to see any of them again.
Acampamento Criances was my second week of camp, and a great way to follow up Acampamento Jovens. Several people told me that I would have a lot more fun during the kids week, and they weren’t kidding! I enjoyed the older campers because I could relate better to them, but the unbridled energy of the younger kids was fantastic. With the younger kids, I not only took pictures the whole week, but I also served as a team leader, helping with activities throughout the week, and I enjoyed the responsibilities I had. It was also fun to practice my Portuguese with them, and they were just as eager to try to practice English with me. Saying goodbye to them at the end of the week was just as difficult (or harder) as saying goodbye to the jovens the week before.
One thing about me is that I don’t like change…and I don’t like goodbyes. Temporary goodbyes are okay, but when I have to say goodbye to something for a year or more, I don’t like that.
I have decided that one of the hardest things about making and developing friendships is having to say eventually say goodbye to those friends. The majority of my friends will not be with me for the majority of my life. So if I’m going to commit to building a friendship with someone, I’m passively committing to an inevitable tearful goodbye. Here in Brasil, it’s generally easier to quickly build a relationship with people than it is in America. I never remember going to camp, meeting someone for the first time, and then crying at the end of the week when we went our separate ways. But that is exactly what happened at kids camp this summer.
Unfortunately, that’s also what is happening this week as I finish my last full day in Brasil this year. I have to say good-bye to many good friends, many who I first met in 2013 but only really got acquainted with this year. But, of course, there are also those many kids who I just met this year and have seen multiple times over the last two months.
Only God knows when I will get to see any of these friends again. It was worth becoming friends with them even if I now have to say farewell.
But one thing I find comfort in as a believer: Someday I will see all of these people again, and we will never have to say “tchau” again 🙂
Maybe even next week.