|The beginning of Matthew 10...|
Before my eyes open, I feel a few tears trickle out. Hey, what's going on? Here we go. Today's the day. I see the picture God put in my heart last week: the broad back of Jesus going ahead, a wake of glory trailing behind. His words echo back to me, "Follow my back." In other words, go where he is going. Stay close to where he is walking.
That's when I open the Bible to see where my daily reading begins. Matthew 10. Once more, I say, "Ok, I'm with You. Freely we have received, so freely we'll be giving."
We get up about 7 after reading emails and checking FB. So many friends have promised to pray and offer encouragement. Every kind word matters. It’s surreal: we’ve gone on many overseas trips so this feel like others. Not coming back in a month or two is different and will be harder. We're shifting our life-center to a new culture.
W and I talk about the weird dynamic in our heads: the more people have talked about “your great adventure,” the less it seemed to sink in. One perhaps raises defenses against being pegged as "exceptional" because there’s no pedestal for any Christian. We’re all equals at the cross, called to follow--whatever following looks like for each of us.
I shower in our cave-like enclosure before tossing the towels into a last load of wash. The bedding I washed yesterday goes in the dryer on maximum heat before we pack it away. (Bedding for incoming guests is separate and on the beds.)
W confirms permissions for our bank accounts and credit cards overseas. He buys tickets to and from Singapore (which we need for an Indonesian entry visa. We’ll fly to S'pore to pick up our language visa in a few weeks.) I nail family pictures up on the stairwell walls. We wash dishes and the floor. (Our son will touch-up paint on the white floor, an unfinished chore.) Bit by bit, the house clears and empties. The dishes are washed when Mel, Martha, and LeRoy show up at 11.
Our street is blocked for repairs, so our friends talk their way through to get to our driveway. They witness our Last Will & Testament. Then the guys heft six heavy suitcases into LeRoy’s Blazer.
Our sendoff by friends who were faculty and – in the case of Mel and Martha – also family is wonderful. We pray together and exchange hugs. What can we say, beyond, “How we’ll miss you!”
On the way to the airport, I get a text from Amy, who just misses us (she flies out at 11:30). At the airport, a porter helps us check in. We pay an overage fee for extra weight but are not charged for the extra suitcases, thanks to W’s platinum status.
God provides an amazing and sweet bonus: Beth sends a message that she and her kids are at the airport, retrieving a nephew. Within minutes, the troop shows up at our lunch table to snap pictures and pray with us.
We’re disappointed by our airline. Though business class is almost empty, they don’t bump us. (The upgrades were frequent a few years ago.) W just reached 1,000,000 miles with the carrier. Perhaps if we’d told them we’re Canadian, they would have been merciful on Canada Day. Nah, they checked our passports.
I watch a few movies on board and choose a playlist. Then I close my eyes to think, pray, and doze. I’m internally astonished to be moving away. This is our fourth or fifth culture shift and we’ve loved exploring each one. The world is an interesting place, after all. This new country is a new experience for us, beyond earlier visits. Its perpetual summer, ethnic groups that look unlike us, foreign language, and completely different foods will mean major adjustments.
I can’t sleep on the first flight, 9 hours to Tokyo. So I sort pictures and look at family movies. The playlist shuffles through the noise-canceling headphones. (Helps to live with a techie!) We arrive in Tokyo at 4:30pm their time, 12:30am ours. We've missed a morning and afternoon. The Sky Lounge features soba noodles, sushi, and congee (rice porridge, which we love), rather than cheese and crackers like in the USA.
Before we know it, it's time to board the plane for Singapore. We'll have six hours there before our final leg to Jakarta tomorrow. Blessings and peace to you all.