Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Observing from the Airport

-July 15, Wednesday
Amsterdam, Holland -

In a little less than a day, I will be home in Amarillo! I am very excited.

The flight last night was calm and sweet. I fell asleep before we took off and woke up in time from breakfast. Seven hours of uncomfortable, but fairly sound sleep. It was pleasant enough. We had yogurt for breakfast, our first dairy product in two weeks. It tasted delightful.

It is currently 6:00 in the morning, and we depart at 10:00, so we have four hours to do whatever we like. Some of us are considering going out on the rail to view the actual city of Amsterdam, just to have experienced a little piece of Holland. The only concern is that since it is so early in the morning, there will be nothing much to see.

I enjoy watching people while I'm in an airport. You can usually tell where a person has originated from simply the clothes that they were. The accents are all fascinating, and you can always find the most captivating people to watch when you are bored in an airport.

I am not sure yet exactly where my group fits. Fifteen people of different age, gender, ethnicity, and even American state in which they live. The only common ground for us is Christianity, a longing to assist the AIDS orphans, and a relationship- however so small- with Milton Jones. Jesus and Milton. I am not quite sure how this adds up, but I am sure that I will figure it out someday.

Despite our differences, we are all friends that have a close bond formed by Africa. Really, no one has had much trouble with each other at all. We have all been, at least casually, friends from the start. At this moment, our common bond is that we all terribly, terribly want to skip the nine hour plane ride ahead of us and beam ourselves home, like in some sci-fi movie.


We bid farewell to our Seattle friends, checked into the gate and finally boarded the plane, eager to watch the abundance of movies available in the tiny screens that rested on the backs of the seats in front of us.

This flight is nine hours long, but we will arrive in Houston only three hours later than when we departed. Today will seem much, much longer than a usual day as a result of this. Oh, the joys of jet lag.

-In Air to Houston-

If I lived on a plane, my life would consist of sleeping... watching major motion pictures on eight inch screens... reading The Praise Habit by David Crowder... falling asleep while reading The Praise Habit by David Crowder... eating a perfectly balanced and packaged and cardboard-flavored airplane meal... crawling over people to go to the bathroom... watching movies that I wouldn't ever rent because they really just aren't that interesting... staring at the clock for twenty-three minutes straight, and wishing that I could make time move faster... calculating what time it is in Kenya and in Amsterdam and in Hawaii and in Texas and then back to Kenya... fumbling around in a three by three bathroom stall... sleeping in the weirdest position I have ever sat in before, but that is the only way to feel comfortable enough to sleep... snickering while watching other people sleep in odd positions... listening to the baby in the row behind me scream bloody murder, and thinking, "What in heaven's name was this kid's mother thinking when she took him on this plane?"... and etc.

My mind keeps drifting off to those kids in Africa, and I am beginning to dread coming home. I miss it in Kenya already, and I think it would have been nice to stay longer. My family isn't even home, for crying out loud.

The baby won't stop screaming. I want off this plane.

-In Air to Amarillo-

We had a five hour layover in Houston. Upon arrival in Houston, we were waved through the gate by a flight attendant, who told us with a bright smile, "Welcome home." I couldn't help but grin at her in return, despite my exhaustion. It felt amazing to be back on Texas soil.

We all asked for so many refills of our drinks. Ice is a glorious wonder to us now. I sat at a table with Milton, Barbie, and Christian, and I think that Milton must have had five refills of his iced tea. It was funny to watch. He downed one glass in less than a minute. The poor waiter turned around from serving the rest of us and said in a bewildered voice, "Oh, let me get you another glass, sir."

Everything in America feels so different. The sky looks different. The clouds look different. The air smells a lot different. Africa- Kenya, at least- has a very distinctive smell to it, no matter where you go. Some people were offended by the foreign scent of the air. I, however, didn't mind it all that much.

People have been rushing, rushing around, which has not been familiar to me at all over these past few weeks. I think back on an African saying, one that the Kenyans take very literally. It goes something like, "Americans have watches, but Africans have time," and it is the truth. The calmness, the serenity of Kenya, is something that I will miss.

I do not want to blend back in with my old life. I do not want to become once again the person who I used to be. I think a little differently now, and I want to remain this way, to live this way. I want to remember the poverty, remember the people, remember their faces- young and old. I can't let myself forget.

I do not want to become part of the daily hustle and bustle that has become so common for the modern American lifestyle.

I want to be able to sit down and truly listen to someone, to cherish the value of both time and loved ones.

I do not want to lose faith over something relatively small when there are those who have lost everything and everyone they have, and yet have the faith of Job, even while they know that they will never have their lives replenished back to where it was before. I want that kind of extreme faith.

I do not want to whine about having to go to school every day when there are those who start walking at 3:00 in the morning to make it on time to a classroom with dirt floors and a teacher who didn't even graduate from high school.

Never again will I use the phrase, "I am starving." Not when there are people who truly are starving and do not complain.

Those who believe that it is not our duty as Christians to feed the poor must go and read the book of James. There are those who need us. Jesus would feed His lambs, and we are His disciples, who should be following His example. How else can we live out Christ's love but by feeding the hungry, fulfilling Jesus' will for the least of His children? How else can they be fed?

James 2:15-17, TNIV, says, "Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, 'Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,' but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead." I do not want to be the one who says, "I wish you well," and does nothing. I want to be the one who follows Christ's will and feeds the hungry, and clothes the naked, and shares the gospel with those who do not know.

We are His tools.

We are about to land in Amarillo any minute now, and I feel excitement coursing through my veins and rising up within me. I am home. It has been a long journey- one I never want to forget- a journey that has changed my perspective on the world, on my faith, on humanity. I am ready to be home, to share my experiences with those who are willing to listen. I am ready to continue Christ's purpose for my life.

I am His.

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