Archive for February 2006
In humid, rainy places, it’s a challenge to keep things dry. But I’ve assembled a crack team to get the job done. The white packets are silica gel, and the peanut butter jar I’ll really be taking is empty and clean. This was the best I could do on short notice. Also, I’m hoping for a kickback from the product placement. Yay Jif!
Don’t forget the electronics! There are lots of megabytes to move, and there’s plenty of voltage to convert. See the three-pronged Aussie plug in the lower left corner?
I didn’t think I could find water shoes in February, but Wal-Mart came through for me one more time. Do I really need so many shoes?
One of the challenges as I pack is trying to anticipate the range of conditions I’ll encounter, from the frequently chilly highlands to the steamy coast and rivers, and from homes with electricity and running water to homes with neither.
I doubt I’ll need to use all of this equipment concurrently, though I hear Ukarumpa gets pretty wet during the rainy season.
In 1950, a 22-year-old woman completed her coursework at a Bible school. One requirement remained: a six-month ministry internship.
She and ten of her peers left the school and crossed the border into a country that had declared war on Christians. Six months went by, and no one ever heard of those 11 students again.
But in 2003, a 75-year-old woman returned to the Bible school she had left half a century before, and she told her story there. All those years ago, her passport and identity papers had been taken away, trapping her in the country where she’d planned to stay just six months.
She shared Jesus with those around her, and her witness did not go unnoticed. The believers were driven apart by soldiers, and for years, she had to live without a single friend by her side, or a single page of Scripture.
As the missionary concluded his story, the numbers kept running through my head.
Twenty-two. Six months. Seventy-five.
I’m 22. I’m going away for six months.
I still feel I should be able to overcome fears and feelings of inadequacy with knowledge, preparation, experience, and success. But I don’t think that’s the way it’s supposed to work.
“I know Him whom I have believed.”
That’s what kept Paul going, and that’s what sustained the woman in the missionary’s story. Knowing Him.
So that must be the answer for me too?
I feel like I’m trying to jam a large, furry mammal through the skinny end of a funnel. My preparation time is down to roughly 3.5 days.
I’m just sort of tired and frustrated, gripped by a paralyzing inability to concentrate. I’m doing pretty well with emails, but several other mission-critical jobs remain unfinished. Most involve writing, and I think my muse must be out on sick leave. There’s also the nightmare called packing.
Meanwhile, additional problems have surfaced. For example, what would happen if one’s driver’s license were to expire while he was out of the country? Just hypothetically, of course. So … what’s the number for the DMV?
It’s already Thursday. I have a little slip of paper that tells me I’m leaving here next Wednesday, which is now less than a week away.
I don’t know how I’m going to finish everything I want to get done. I know I’m not going to get everything done, and I’m afraid that something important will fall through the cracks.
I work better with a to-do list, so I’m sitting down now to compose one for today. Will somebody please check up on me later? Ask me how I’m doing.
- Visit Kristy at school.
- Get a haircut.
- Answer all of the emails that have little yellow stars beside them.
- Edit planning documents for June.
- Email Jad and KJ.
- Finish any data entry needed.
- Visit the credit union.
- Write and send a prayer letter.
- Begin list of items I should gather or buy.
- Email Margaret and Susan.
- Check on Australian visa.
- Select a song for Sunday and set up a practice time with Aunt Shirley.
- Write and organize materials Susan is waiting for.
- Eat breakfast.
- Fix computer problems.
- Catch up on filing.
- Schedule a day for lunch with friends.
- Do some personal writing.
- Write to Brian Coates.
I’m back safely in Springfield. South Dallas was actually the worst place I drove through; I saw half a dozen accidents (mostly on overpasses) this morning. Roads were pretty good the rest of the way home.
Most of the trip between Dallas and Springfield, of course, is through Oklahoma, and I enjoy the drive through rocky, oak-covered hills. Today, patches of snow mingled with the stones and leaves on the forest floor.
Oklahoma is quite different from both Texas and Missouri. If the landscape isn’t enough of a clue, the place names do help: Tushka, Atoka, Checotah, Muskogee, and Tahlequah, for instance. Also distinctive are the casinos scattered along the highway, and the virtually unavoidable toll roads.
I saw a few bison in one pasture, and I listened to some country music to keep myself awake — and because, well, it’s Oklahoma. Some of the lines I heard were golden: “You walked across my heart like it was Texas,” and, “When the last breath of life is gone from my body / And my lips are as cold as the sea / … / I know you’ll have fun at my farewell party ….”
Between Mt. Vernon, Mo., and Springfield, a stone chimney stands beside the highway. I noticed it again today, and wondered about it as I had so many times before. It stands beside a fence, and there’s not another trace of habitation anywhere around. No sagging roof, no fallen walls. It’s just alone.
Who built it? Who cooked over its fires? Whose children warmed their feet around it, and whatever became of them later? How long has it stood there, just a solitary chimney built of stones?
Funny how one’s mind works when there’s little else to do.