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In a Coming, There is Also a Leaving

A Letter from Kay Day, serving in Rwanda

December 2018

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Dear friends and family,

Greetings from Rwanda. As we approach this Advent season, a time of anticipating the coming of Jesus into our lives, I confess that my focus has been more on the leaving of a good friend than on the coming of my savior. My good friend of almost six years, Dr. Faith Lugazia, is leaving the Protestant Institute of Arts and Social Sciences (PIASS). Her contract with the United Evangelical Mission has ended, and she must return to her home country of Tanzania with her family.

Praying for Faith and her family at the English chapel.

Faith has been a major part of the life of the community here at PIASS. She has taught systematic theology and missiology, key courses in preparing our students for ministry, and she has served as vice dean of the faculty of theology. More than that, she has been an integral part of the Presbyterian English chapel that I serve. We are an ecumenical group, and she helped us live that out as a Lutheran pastor who served the chapel as lead pastor when I was in the States. It has been a powerful witness to our students of the unity of the church. But beyond all of that, she has been my good friend. We have been the only women in the theology faculty, and that gave us a bond to begin with. We have been the only international members of that faculty as well, another bond, and she studied for her PhD in the States. She and her family lived there for five years, so she has an American sensibility. In fact, her youngest son was born in the States. This has been a bond, especially on US holidays like Independence Day and Thanksgiving, when we have shared American food and traditions.

But over and above all that, her open personality and strong faith are evident in all she does and have been a support to me and the rest of PIASS. She and her family lived next door to me for five of the last six years and were always there if I needed eggs or advice or an ear, and I was there to give cookies to her growing sons, Alpha and Omega. The youngest, Omega, would smell cookies baking and come to my front door to ask, with a sheepish smile, if I had cookies for him. I have watched the boys grow into young men of strength and good character. Faith’s husband, Joe Ivan, has served for three years as an elder in the English chapel. Many evenings we have shared a meal and family prayers together. I will miss them.

Joe Ivan and Faith.

After Faith and her family left, I remembered a line from Robin Mark’s song “The Wonder of the Cross.” He imagines heaven during Jesus’ incarnation when he writes, “Your Holy Spirit brooding round that empty throne,” and I thought again of how those in heaven must have felt when Jesus left that glory to take on human form to come to be with us. His coming to us left a gap in heaven for a time. When we think of the incarnation, we don’t think of heaven giving up anything. We only think of our gain. But in a coming, there is also a leaving. That is what I am reminded of with my friend Faith leaving. There is a gap for me. But there is also a comfort in the anticipation of meeting again, just as there is with Jesus’ return. This is part of Advent anticipation as well.

This Advent, I pray that as you reflect on the coming of our Savior, who will come again to us in a final victory, you gain new insight into the power and mystery of his incarnation for us. I pray that, in the midst of the busy preparations of Christmas, you will take time to reflect on and enjoy the anticipation of this season.

Yours in Love,

Kay (Cathie to the family)

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