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When ‘Bye’ is Bittersweet
Cassy Fleming
Furlough Adaptation
“Torn between two,” the Apostle Paul said,
“To stay here with you or to go on ahead.”
Advantages to both were easy to find,
So to him it was hard to make up his mind.

On the edge of furlough I stood on the brink
With similar struggles to him I think.

My house here is small with no heating or air.

Seating for church is a hard folding chair.

But I’ve made my house ‘home,’
And we approach God’s Throne.

From the floor in the bush,
Church doesn’t really have to be “cush.”
It’s been lonely at times, I will confess.

But national friends I’ll miss nonetheless.

To you they might be a little bit funny,
But I wouldn’t trade them if you paid me money.

Their clothes may be stained, bleached, or torn,
But their smiles and handshakes are ever so warm.

So forgive me. I find that my heart is divided.

Between First and Third World, I’m a bit undecided.

America has its pros, I admit;
But in neither culture do I really fit.

I can speak Pidgin, but I can’t change my skin.

It’s really quite a fix I’m in!
Too simple for one; Too complex for another. . .

At least I can hug my dad, mom, and brother!
If the transition is rough, the roads will be smooth.

Nothing jarred out place will need to be soothed.

But I’m not sure I’m ready for such a fast pace.

On our dilapidated roads, 40 feels like a race!
A 4-lane highway will seem quite wide.

Two’s normal for here, but don’t stay on your side.

If the pothole’s too deep, you have to swerve.

By oncoming traffic, don’t be unnerved!
Life here is different. It’s PNG!
But I guess it’s become kind of normal to me.

So be gracious with me as I re-adjust.

I know adaptability is a must.

The sun will set later, though still in the West,
So to fit in again, I’ll try my best,
But part of me still wants to be weird.

It’s part of my story to which I’m endeared.

So if it sounds like I don’t really want to come home,
Please understand it’s a great unknown.

I’ve been living some fourteen hours ahead,
But after 2 days of travel, I can’t go to bed.

If the terrible jet lag I hope to lick,
And I don’t even know if I will feel sick.

But the Lord has led, and come home I must.

To Him all my future, I must entrust.

And whenever I feel like I do not belong
To draw closer to Jesus, may it make me long.

His power is steady, and He is the Son.

No blackouts with Him. No generators run.

He’s a solid foundation that nothing can shake,
A comfort indeed after our last earthquake!
See ya soon!
Cassy Fleming ~ CB I ‘05b, CB II ‘08, SM ‘09
Missionary to Papua New Guinea
One of my favorite pictures in the family photo album
portrays my six-foot father stooping to take my hand
and guide my unsteady steps when I was only knee-
high. But there came a time when I had to let go of
my earthly father’s hand and begin clinging to the
hand of my Heavenly Father instead.

This time came one Sunday night in January 2005, prior to the
mission’s conference at our sending church, and it was time to make
public what I had already reasoned out in private.

I had often considered my place in full-time Christian service. “Could
I stay in the States with a clear conscience? Why did I want to serve
overseas anyway? For the adventure? To become bilingual?” My
parents had been involved in missions since I was three, and I couldn’t
imagine finding fulfillment in a secular job. But I was concerned that
missions appealed to me simply because it was the only life I had ever
really known, yet I didn’t feel I could stay in the States while there were
still people who had never heard the Gospel in their own language.

Back in the sanctuary, I knew that my Dad would have gone forward
with me had I but squeezed his hand, but I finally slipped out alone,
grateful to be sitting on the aisle near the front. When my pastor
asked if I was willing to serve the Lord wherever He might lead, I
responded in the affirmative, knowing that the Lord might send me
to Africa, the last place I would choose.

That night, when I stepped out without the strength and comfort of my
earthly father’s hand, my Heavenly Father took my upstretched hand
and led me on a lifelong missionary journey. But at CAMP BIMI that
summer, I felt as if my spiritual legs buckled under me. I went
with expectations of taking great strides forward, but I discovered
that I could no more rush God’s working in my life than a toddler
could prematurely walk. The whole week I felt as if I were sitting in
one spot, while everyone around me was moving forward.

After three years of crawling while my spiritual muscles developed more,
my Heavenly Father finally decided it was time for me to take the next
step in the summer of 2008. I was reading through Isaiah during
personal devotions at CAMP BIMI II ‘08 when the confirmation
of my calling seemed to leap off the page: “Thou . . . art my servant
. . . whom I have chosen” (Isaiah 41:8). If I still had any doubt, the
next verse reiterated, “Thou art my servant; I have chosen thee.”
After giving me a black-and-white statement to stand on, my Father
showed me in verse 10 why I hadn’t been moving forward by leaps
and bounds—fear. Though I had grown up in a mission that targeted
tribal groups, I shied away from the bush because I was afraid of
leaving civilization. “Fear not,” my Father whispered seven times in
four chapters, gently assuring me that He would help me and hold
my hand, even to the ends of the earth (Isaiah 41:13-14).

Over ten years have passed since that day at CAMP BIMI II, and
I am a missionary in Papua New Guinea. Having spent time in
several bush locations, I still desire to live in the bush long-term,
learn a tribal language, build relationships, disciple, translate the
Scriptures, and help plant a church. I confess that, at times, I have
hung back like a reluctant child at the many new experiences the
Lord has led me through, but I’m grateful that my Father’s Hand
tenderly leads me forward.