Tuesday, October 22, 2013

An Overwhelming Goodbye

By far the most meaningful and heart wrenching farewell occurred our final morning in Nuapapu, when the village loaded up all of our belongings on the tractor and we all headed down to the wharf. It is impossible to capture the emotions of this scene, but we were absolutely blown away when the entire village came down to the wharf to see us off.

After our things were loaded onto the boat, everyone walked to the edge of the wharf and formed two lines. Then, weeping, we made our way down the lines of people for a goodbye fe'ilo'aki and 'uma (hug and cheek kiss) with every single person on the wharf. As we stepped, tear soaked, onto the boat, the village waved and softly sang a hymn of farewell as we sailed away. It was an unbelievable send-off, absolutely unlike any goodbye we have ever experienced.

I was again moved to tears as we rounded the bend, and all of my old students from the school at Matamaka were standing at the edge of the sea, singing and waving goodbye with palm branches.

Later that day, another PC volunteer remarked how different it must have felt saying goodbye to an island, and literally sailing away from everything and everyone we knew so well in one place, disappearing in the distance. When we said goodbye in the States before we came to Peace Corps, it was a very gradual farewell. It happened in stages, as we said separate goodbyes to people at work, church, family, and friends. Never in our lives had we experienced such an overwhelmingly emotional, totally communal goodbye. So hard, so wonderful, so fitting, and so Tongan.



  1. Reminds me of The Other Side of Heaven http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0250371/. You guys are awesome.

  2. I would have been crying buckets! Many blessings and love come to you from your Oklahoma family.

    We love you, Mom and Jeff

  3. This is precious... and film-like. I'm thankful you had this kind of parting.