1.22.2011

From sweltering heat to 5-7 inches of snow...

Yo,

Hope things are treating you well, wherever you are. It has now been one week since all of us (minus Jason) have returned to Amerika, and we are happy to be home but our hearts and minds remain in Sudan, and I 'spect they will until we return.

Jason remains in Adjumani and Nimule, where you can live like a king for 10 bucks a day getting fat on Nile Perch and Novida Soda pop. Keep the situation with the vehicle in prayer. There were a couple exciting developments that took place right as we were leaving Nairobi. One of the front desk guys informed us he has a brother located in Mombasa who works as both a "handler" and a broker for the Mombasa port. Therefore, Jason has a place to stay there that's safe 'n cheap, and we are going to literally save HUNDREDS on getting the vehicle off the boat and through customs. We are thankful to Timothy for helping us, despite his disgust at Jason's Snake Hunting Exploits.

Other than that, not much going on. We're all back at work and getting accustomed to Central Standard Time. I'd love it if I could make it past 8 PM so I could catch an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Knowing my luck, the first time I do catch one, it will be one of those lame ones that focuses on Counselor Troi. Sorry if that offends any of you Troi fans- but I find her unnecessary as a character.

Let's get off of one soapbox and onto another. While traveling, I was reading a book I had purchased before coming called "Under a Sickle Moon" by Peregrine Hodson. He is a reporter who embedded himself with a group of mujahideen during the war between the former USSR and Afghanistan in the 80s. Books like this always capture me because I find intense experiences fascinating. I hope none of our travels ever get like this, but there's always that possibility I guess.

Anyway, to what I'm getting at: on all of my former trips, I am usually ready to come home. I can handle the squat latrines, heat, different food and constant demands on attention and focus for a couple of weeks but as the time to come home draws near; I become whiny, selfish, and can't wait to get back, get over the jet lag, and get back in the swing of work. I admit it. Sometimes, when you are in the middle of your trips, you wonder just what it is that you look forward to when you are back home constantly thinking about it. "Am I just a glutton for punishment?" I ask myself.

Then sometimes shame kicks in. "How dare you even think about a project at work back home when you've got these people who can't even get a meal every day? What is the matter with you?" The war of spirit and flesh that we're never free from until we are just spirit.

I found an interesting passage in "Under a Sickle Moon" that applied to this very thing. The author had been with a group of people rebelling against Soviet forces in their own country; constantly getting bombed, hunted, without food, sick with malaria, etc. Now I don't claim to have gone through anything remotely like this, but I still felt I understood the passage:

"Observers from another world, we had passed among the people, seen their suffering and heard their prayers, received their kindness and momentarily known the turbulence of war. But all the while we had been wearing an invisible armour: the knowledge of another life to which we could eventually return."

On every other trip I've taken, I can say that I had this exact outlook. I felt kind of bad about it, but the one reassurance I had that kept me from freaking out at seeing all of the poverty and destitution was that I could come home where everything's safe, clean and there's always plenty to eat.

When I read this, it was like getting punched in the face. Something has changed this time, and I'm not so sure that I'm going to don this "armor" any longer. I don't know exactly what that means, but I think it starts with seeing what else I can give to these people. Maybe someday, it will mean spending more time over there, if God makes a way.

I challenge you all to think and pray more and see if God is leading you to do more and help those who aren't as fortunate. I'm not talking about giving money, but giving yourself. Your time, talents and treasure to those who need it. And I'm not even necessarily talking about this mission that we're doing. There are needs everywhere.

"But whoever has this world's goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?" -1 John 3:17

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