What a Saturday it was.

It sure is hard to say goodbye to good friends who seem more like family, especially when they’re about to move on to the complete opposite end of the country, from the Intermountain  West to gator country in central Florida.

Seventh-day Adventist Church
Seventh-day Adventist Church (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

That’s what the Wasatch Hills Seventh-day Adventist Church family was facing Saturday as it deals with losing a pastor it has grown fond of in Bernie Anderson along with his family — wife Christina and daughters Madison, Brooklyn, and Liberty.

Bernie will still be our pastor for a couple more weeks as the church prepares to be part of a satellite link as a host site for the Global Leadership Summit.  For Christina and their daughters, this was their last Sabbath at our church as the pastor’s family.  For all that they’ve brought and meant to the church, it was enough to provide a lot of tears and hugs as well.

For the girls, it means leaving behind a big chunk of  their growing years.  They came to Salt Lake City from Texas at a very young age, and some of the friendships they’ve made here are very deep.

For Christina, she’s been a driving force at Wasatch Hills in a variety of ways, helping to make Bernie’s time here as a pastor to be even more dynamic — particularly in the area of children’s ministries.  Christina gave one more children’s story at church Saturday as the pastor’s wife and a church leader herself before leaving.  She gathered the children around her, sitting on the stage, and talked about changes in people’s lives and how big changes can be so difficult to deal with.

She said she didn’t like to say “goodbye,” she prefers to say “see ya later.”  At the same time, she had a hard time keeping herself from shedding some tears.  Parting is such sweet sorrow.

The children of our church became a very important part of Christina’s life.  Her dedication to and love for them was evident in all that she did, whether it was through her leadership as a Sabbath School leader, our Vacation Bible School leader, taking our teens through the 30-Hour Famine every year, making sure we had someone to tell a children’s story every week, or just through her personal relationships with each and every one of them.  Her exit will leave a huge gap, and it will present a challenge to members of our church to fill that gap.

In her parting words to the church, she talked about how our particular church has become like a family to her family, and I know exactly what she meant.  Even in our own church relationship, I came to know exactly when Christina was about to ask me to help her with something without her even having to say a word.  All she had to do was start walking toward me with a look on her face that said to me, “I hate to ask you this but I need some help quickly and I know you won’t turn me down, so could you help me?”  Then she’d make her request, and she’s someone you have a hard time saying no to.  I saw it many times through the years, through the days and weeks people would work together through church services or VBS and Famine events, and you didn’t want to turn her down for any help because she was pouring so much of herself into it all as well.

That’s what family members do for each other.

Again, for the children involved, there are sad faces all the way around.  Oldest daughter Madison has made a friend who’s exactly like a sister to her, and parting for them is very hard.  Middle daughter Brooklyn has had close friendships as well.  For a while, she had a tentative friendship with our daughter Alicia.  As they grew in age and maturity and adapted to each others’ individual personalities, they too became more like sisters.  Alicia’s had her down times as she faces losing a good friend to a long distance, and she’ll deeply miss the times she’s been able to share that face-to-face time with Brooklyn when it comes to having fun together in church activities, going to a favorite trampoline gym on a Saturday night, seeing movies together, or having a sleepover.  They will have to adjust now to keeping their friendship going strong through texting or phone calls.

Then there’s the Andersons’ youngest daughter, Liberty.  She’s made her share of sister-like friends as well, and everyone’s had a special place in their heart for her.

Life goes on, there are still ways to stay in touch in an instant and those methods will be used to make the changes just a touch easier.  But it’s those face-to-face relationships, the memories that are made together as a family … those will be missed the most.

All we can do is wish each other well, exchange hugs, and say “see ya later.”  Goodbyes are too permanent.

Christina Anderson has always had a special way of showing how much she cares for children of all ages. (Photo By John G. Miller)
Rachel Kuhr (left) and Madison Anderson have been like close sisters for several years. (Photo By John G. Miller)
Brooklyn Anderson (middle) has had a special friendship with Alicia Miller (left) and Isabella Constantino that’s developed over the years. (Photo By John G. Miller)
Liberty Anderson has been able to experience a lot in her time in Utah, including riding a horse at a friend’s birthday party. (Photo By John G. Miller)
Pastor Bernie Anderson paused on a tree stump to strike a contemplative pose on a hike toward Utah’s Mount Timpanogos during a church campout several years ago. He will remain as pastor at the Wasatch Hills Church just under two more weeks before taking his visionary ways to Florida, but in the meantime he will take a week to escort his family to their new location. (Photo By John G. Miller)

Copyright 2012, Daddysangbassdude Media


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