The Last Time

We held the 3rd HopeFest last Sunday. It was a beautiful day, and a beautiful event, and Bill is Not Entirely Discouraged from giving it another go next year… But that is for another post.

We truly had glorious weather, and surely that is a Sign From God, is it not? We can plan until the cows come home; we can arrange an amazing line-up of talented musicians; we can get corporate sponsorships to support it, and provide free air-line tickets, and even set up a giant tent on the lawn; we can set up a Beacon of Hope tent on the lawn. But ultimately, God is the one in control of the weather, and He gave us a beautiful day. Surely that means Something.

Yes, it was a beautiful day, and we had a great time.

But that is for another post.

This post is for our friends Nate and Jeff and John. They flew in from Wisconsin to film the event, capturing the last footage they’ll need for Nate to complete the documentary film he’s making about our trip to Nairobi. It was great to see them.

We first met Nate back in the early spring, when he came to our Kenya meeting and talked about the possibility of the possibility of Christianity Today wanting him to make a documentary about our trip. Then, in April, Nate and Jeff showed up and spent two evenings with us, interviewing Bill and me and the children, following us to Will’s baseball game, even coming to Trinity School to get footage of me teaching.

And then Nate and John were with us in Nairobi. And in Tanzania. They became part of our team, in fact, and we became accustomed to their presence and that of their cameras and microphones. When it was all over, they didn’t feel like an appendage to our team. They were just part of our team.

We all knew it wasn’t over when they disappeared at the Nairobi airport. We knew they’d be back. They were with us again just a few weeks ago now, here in Durham, doing follow-up interviews.

And then they were back last weekend for the HopeFest, and it wasn’t at all surprising to see them at dinner on Saturday night, or in church on Sunday morning, or all that afternoon and evening, for that matter.

But it did catch me by surprise– the realization on Saturday evening that this would be it. This would be all the footage they’d need. There would be no reason, after this, for them to make their way to Durham– Carolina barbeque notwithstanding.

I said this to Nate, even as the surprise of this revelation was still settling on me, and before the sadness could set in. “This is the last time we’ll see you,” I said.

“Yeah,” said Nate, in his matter-of-fact way, which is the way he says most things: matter-of-factly. “But it won’t be the last time I’ll see you guys,” he said. “I’ll be spending the next three months with you,” he said. And I knew what he meant: he’d spend the next months reliving this weekend, and the weeks in Kenya, and the interviews before and after that. He’d be going through and through and through the footage Somewhere North in his editing room for a Long Time To Come.

And I didn’t know which was a lonelier thought: our having no reason to see him, or him toiling on alone, shaping images and soundbytes into a film that could make our experience meaningful for thousands who had never experienced it….

Sometimes art is just lonely like that.

Sometimes life is, too.


One thought on “The Last Time

  1. I had a great time at Hopefest and can’t wait to see the film Nate is making. But I don’t think he will be lonely making it. Maybe he will. He will most definitely be alone but how can one be lonely when they have a snippet of Emma Grace yelling -Hello Kenya- to all of Kenya! take care

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