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Faithfulness Journey Missions Perspective Provision Purpose surrender

Out of the Know

I’ve been flying (literally) under the radar these past few weeks. We are traveling; giving reports and connecting with churches, friends and partners of the work in Africa. While it may sound glamorous, all of the traveling, it’s actually quite arduous. We travel in economy everywhere we go (we have been bumped up to business class twice that I can remember in our 33 years of traveling overseas) and do our best to keep costs down. This translates into lots of “making do” and cheaper meals on the go which will often give me lots of fodder for blogging.

There’s always something good that comes out of our inconvenience.

Our current route has already taken us through Belgium, the UK, Florida and now Texas. It’s a real honor to see people who we’ve connected with over the years; some have been supporting us since the year we began this amazing journey in 1987. How have we gotten this far? It’s got to be a God thing because alone we wouldn’t have made it past our first 6 months in Africa.

I’m certainly not the best, or even mediocre, theologian, expository speaker or writer that can give a more precise explanation for the wonders we have experienced. Perhaps if I had the right charisma or gifting that would naturally draw people, that could possibly explain some of what we have seen over the years – but I am hopelessly ordinary. There’s nothing about my personality that would make me stand out in a crowd, that would merit the attention of more than one or two people, those two being my husband and (maybe) one of my children.

I would describe myself as an introvert. Yes, an introvert. For those reading who know me now, you might find yourself chuckling because I can, under the right circumstances, wax loquacious. My verbose tendencies are mostly learned; perhaps I’ve learned the lesson too well. Nevertheless, even with my not-so-newfound long-winded tendencies, I am far and away from those who have become rich and famous through their communication skills.

Indeed, the past 33 years of seeing what we’ve seen can only be explained by the Unexplainable One Himself – it’s been a God thing, and He has been so good in caring for us every single day. As I see it, we’ve been given a task and as long as we have stayed committed, God has graced us to take part in the adventure of a lifetime.

My understanding of how God has brought us this far might run cross-grain to those who have to have an explanation for everything. Together with my learned speaking skills, I have learned to be comfortable with being out of the know, for there are some things that are just too wonderful,” He’s just too good for me to understand.

Job 42:3 NIV “You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?’ Surely I spoke of things I did not undersand, things too wonderful for me to know.”

While I might overcommunicate from time to time or keep my husband and children waiting for me as I talk with friends, I’ve learned there are just some things I need to keep my mouth shut about because they are just too wonderful. They go above my pay grade – and I’m OK with that.

So we’ll just keep doing what we are doing: planting churches, opening schools and feeding programs, working in local prisons and starting leadership academies and whatever else we’re graced to do knowing that God understands how He will get the job done. We simply have to keep ourselves on point and our eyes fixed to the task at hand because the intricacies of how to get it done are just too wonderful, and He will keep on being good.

Categories
Endurance Inconvenience Journey Joy Missions Perspective Travel

I Didn’t Walk Through Business Class

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I just checked.

We are flying at 37,000 feet our way back home to Blantyre, Malawi. Our flight, that I’m watching on the conveniently located flight map on the seat in front of me, has so far been uneventful (save for a few bumps of minor to moderate turbulence). Our overall progress, however, seems to be advancing so very slowly! The outside speed is 561 mph (903 kmph) but the trail indicating distance traveled is moving at what appears to be a turtle’s pace. This may or may not be due to the distance we are flying, by my calculations, about 10,000 miles (approximately 14,000 kilometers), give or take some few hundred miles/kilometers.

Since I’m well aware of things not appearing as they seem, I am not worried. Traveling for the past 30+ years in the developing world accustoms one to the regular odd happening such as the travel map not reading the correct destination. I mean, I am supposed to land in Africa, not Dublin, Ireland as indicated on the map.

Or, should I be worried? Is the map showing anything correct at all?

Nah, I’m now hours into the flight and it’s too late to turn around. Things will work themselves out, they always do – but I wonder a little bit about the map and will do so until the end of the flight.

My daughter, who is sitting between us in our ever-shrinking economy class seats, is playing every game that the airplane system has to offer, my husband is alternating between nodding off to sleep and watching movies. While I sit here on a 13+ hour long flight failing to do little more than watch the odd movie and play a few games of Scrabble on my iPad.

Slowly the “food trolleys” pass by with plastic wrapped sandwiches that everyone, in this nearly full flight, devours with great gusto. This may sound strange as most of you probably haven’t had the delightful experience of landing at our next stop before finally landing in Blantyre: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Addis, as we who travel through there affectionately call it, is an interesting airport.

Let me explain.

Upon landing in Addis, the level of noise in the airport is amazing; there are people everywhere. I’ve learned that it’s becoming a major African air travel hub that is now struggling to keep up with the increasing volume of people passing through on their way to various destinations on the continent. The noise, combined with the movement of so many people to their various gates, creates a fascinating environment. It’s easy to decipher who is patient and who is not.

Not only is it noisy in Addis, but there’s no “easy seating.” What do I mean when saying there’s no “easy seating?” This is a term I have conjured up myself to describe the near panic that grips your heart when you realize there’s nowhere to sit for the next several hours while you wait for your connecting flight. Every available seat is jealously guarded by the fortunate one who managed to get it before anyone else.

Even the most frugal person would, at this point, try to pay to get into the airport lounge. Once the lounge is found, entrance is denied if you aren’t a member with the airline. Tears sting at the backs of your eyes as you are forced to return to the swirling masses of humanity in the concourse where you find yourself resorting to some kind of instinctual behavior as you scout out possible seating.

Still, we keep making these trips over and over!

The remaining part of our journey, once we leave the busy Addis airport, is where the plot thickens even further. We will fly to Lilongwe, Malawi (about 3+ hours from Addis), and be on the ground for about an hour dropping off and receiving passengers. Finally, after departing from Lilongwe, after a very short flight of less than an hour, we will land in Blantyre where the lines are long and slow and luggage carts are broken.

The chaos that ensues upon landing is a mixture of joy for the journey’s ending, jet lag, and struggling to get through customs and immigration. The heat this time of year is suffocating, but my eyes long to see the dusty roads of Africa.

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Home for me has never been wrapped in the comfort of my natural citizenship. I have longed, painfully at times, for family and friends but have learned to accept the longing of my soul for the people of Africa. To fight against it would be tantamount to fighting against my very breath.

So, I embrace this discomfort: economy class and all simply that I might see Him someday and pronounced faithful to His call (see Phil. 3:10).

I am thankful that at least this time I didn’t have to walk through business class to get to my seat.