I’ve traveled more miles than I can count in the past four weeks. My journey took me to Hong Kong, Nepal, Bangladesh, Turkey, Poland, Belgium, and Iceland. Granted, four of those stops were airport layovers, but hey, my feet touched the soil. That’s gotta count for something.
I wish y’all could have traveled with me. I shared a few photos on FB, but it’s impossible to share sounds—voices speaking foreign languages, horns honking, bus motors revving, birds singing, monkeys screeching, music blaring, Islamic calls to prayer. It’s also impossible to share smells—diesel fumes, mildew, curry, cardamom and cinnamon, and unmentionables.
Many of you have said that you looked forward to hearing about the trip, so here’s a brief summary of highlights:
Making the pilgrimage with my daughter and her husband to the hospital where she was born has enriched my life. Because she left Nepal when she was three days old, she said she felt like a piece of her life’s puzzle was always missing. This trip filled in the gap for her. Also, meeting their World Vision child and hearing about the difference sponsorship has made brought huge smiles.
Visiting our Nepalese villagers, being welcomed into their humble homes, and becoming friends with some of their grown children exceeded my hopes. Learning that they can hear the Gospel being broadcast on their radios left me in awe. When we lived there in the 80s, Nepal was the world’s only official Hindu country and proselytization was banned.
Traveling by jeep on narrow, rugged roads hugging steep cliffs helped me develop a deeper prayer life. (Hearing the news of an Indian school bus careening over a cliff and killing more than two dozen children earlier this week left me grieved but all-the-more grateful for our safety).
Seeing the poorest-of-the-poor Christian brothers and sisters dance to worship music during a church service moved me to joy. Their actions led me to question whether I understand freedom in Christ to the same degree.
Staying hunkered in a Bangladesh hotel under armed guard brought a bit of apprehension and a stark reminder that foreigners make good targets in many lands.
Discovering that a Canadian office made a mistake in issuing our transit visa needed to travel through India—a mistake that meant spending an extra night in Dhaka and purchasing new airline tickets at great expense—caused me to shake my head in disbelief while choosing to trust that the unexpected is never a surprise to God.
Seeing heavily armed military personnel patrolling in two airports where terrorists have killed innocent travelers brought a sense of vulnerability.
Presenting the Gospel to 85 men and women—many of whom were unbelievers—at a meeting in Poland brought excitement in knowing God used that event to plant and water spiritual seeds.
Engaging in numerous one-on-one conversations and prayer with our ministry staff on the field and at our annual conference reminded me how God trusts ordinary people with extraordinary Kingdom-building work.
And finally, having to edit and rewrite parts of my new Bible study while traveling left me completely thrust on God for help and strength. He pulled me through.
To those of you who prayed for our health and safety—thank you. Traveling in places like we’ve been means encountering water and food laden with bacteria that can cause all kinds of problems for our North American gut. I’m grateful to say we had no issues. We did, however, shoot up a lot of arrow prayers: “God, protect our tummies as we accept the food served by our gracious hosts.”
To those of you who prayed for jetlag to be a non-issue—thank you. Typically, jetlag takes one day to recover for every hour of time difference. Nepal is nearly 13 hours ahead of us, but we overcame jetlag in about three days. Now we’re doing it in reverse, and I’m hoping for it to be as easy.
I’ll spend the next four weekends—beginning tomorrow—travelling for speaking engagements all the while trying to learn my new normal living on a sailboat. I’ll start devotional blogging again next week. I’d really appreciate knowing those prayers are still coming as I shift my focus back to ministry on North American turf.
Have a great weekend, and know you are loved.