The Riddles arrived here in Brasil in February 2006. Five years, four homes, three churches, two children and a red, VW grocery-getter later, they returned to the States. On May 1st, home for them became a place quite distant from us. The night they left was quite somber. There was that unswallowable pain in the back of your throat that invariably gives way to tears, then, hugs. There was the awkward silence that accompanied us to the baggage check. There was the altogether underwhelming goodbye that seemed quite unfit for the occasion and the final left turn around the translucent glass wall of the security check. Then, there was just the space that they had disoccupied. Gone.
But, exits are not all sadness. Walking up Morro dos Macacos last week, two little kids that I've never met but that have seen us around the morro stopped me to ask, "Jason, where's the other one?" Now, what I've discovered from my time in the morro is that most of the kids that are not close to us seem to think of Jason and I as an extension of one identity. To them, our names really don't mean anything. We are Jason and the other one. Jason is the name assigned to the person that they are addressing. The other one is the title given to the one that is not present. Since I was there that day, I was Jason. I didn't correct the kids. I simply replied, "He's returned to the States." But as I continued walking, I reflected on how much both Jason and Kristin are a part of what we do here. I considered the indellible mark they left on me, the guys and a number of kids from the morro. And, in that moment, sadness gave way to gratitude. Suddenly, 4742 miles didn't seem like such a distance.
I ask that you pray for the Riddles. First, Jason needs a job. Second, pray for this period of adjustment for them. While there is the joy of being home with friends and family, there is also the sense of loss for the stories in which they invested five years of their lives that continue on without them. All of us here are genuinely thankful for the time we had with the Riddles and trust that God has greater plans for them still in bringing them home.