Monday, December 22, 2008

Farewell to Stephen!

After nearly two wonderful years, we bade farewell to Rev. Stephen Dokolo on Sunday morning. As I write this, Stephen should be back with his family (wife and 3-year old son!) whom he hadn't seen since leaving to come to Missouri in early 2006.

It was a team effort getting Stephen on his way back to Uganda (and, eventually, Lui). He successfully defended his thesis at Eden Seminary last week and then all that was left was the daunting task of packing. The Rev. Susan Naylor and the stalwart Men of Emmanuel (Webster Groves) packed nearly 600 pounds of books into more than 20 boxes. Eleven suitcases had to be repacked to four suitcases because of holiday extra suitcase limits on Northwest/KLM, with the remnants left behind to be shipped as well (thank goodness Susan has an in with Air Cargo!).

Sandy and Skip Coburn picked Stephen up at 6:30 am and we helped him navigate the check-in procedures and get all his bags where they needed to go. Skip then treated Stephen to a farewell cup of coffee (he probably can't wait to get back to Moru coffee, though from the missives from our missioners in Lui/Mundri, it's probably only a matter of time before Starbucks hits Southern Sudan!), after which we went to the airport chapel and prayed with and over Stephen in thanksgiving for his time with us and in petition for safety for his journey.

We waved goodbye to Stephen and saw his broad, bright smile for the last time (for awhile, at least) as he passed through security.

Thanks to Susan Naylor, Rick Kuhn (and all the Men of Emmanuel), Sandy and Skip Coburn and all those who helped Stephen get on his way. We are so richer for his time with us ... and can't wait to see who Lui sends our way next!

1 comment:

Lisa Fox said...

Thanks for this report, Mike, and the delightful photo of Stephen with his ever-present, big smile.

I couldn't get to St. Louis Sunday, but we had a special prayer of thanksgiving for Stephen's presence here and prayers for his safe travels. Fortunately, I was not the intercessor, for I was awash in tears. I am glad Stephen finally gets to go hom. I am moved by the sacrifice he made by being here for two years, away from his family and beloved friends. But they were also tears of sorrow, for I am going to miss Stephen's presence among us.

Godspeed to Stephen, my brother.