Claire Marin came out of the bathroom at the airport and said, “Mom! That bathroom is so cool. There is an automatic FOAM soap dispenser and you put your hands IN the automatic dryer.” I had to chuckle. Part of her excitement is surely that of a novice 10-year-old traveler. Part of it is a (semi) permanent delight and awe at technology and convenience.
And it’s all the more delightful as we wait the last couple hours before our flight to Atlanta, on the way to Johannesburg, on the way to Blantyre, Malawi. Our flight to Atlanta has been cancelled so we’re spending some quality time in the Nashville airport before we sprint through the Atlanta airport, praying that we make our flight to Jo’Burg.
Going to Malawi this time is different in many ways. First of all, this time we’re going home. Home to our house, our stuff, our jobs and the kids’ school. We’re going home to friends and colleagues and re-entering life with those we love. But this time we also go back with a more realistic view of things. I won’t say the romance is gone, but we go back with a much more realistic vision of life in a developing nation and the hard work it takes to nurture a young church. We go back with eyes – and hearts – wide open.
We have sent thank you cards, given hugs and made phone calls but there is no way to truly convey our thanks and appreciation to our friends and family who welcomed us back into their lives, provided us meals, cards, support, laughter and prayers. WOW!
When Ken Edwards spoke in his sermon on Sunday on Luke 14, he emphasized the value of inviting persons who cannot repay you to the banquets and seats of honor. Sitting on the pew surrounded by persons who have let us borrow their car, who have given offerings to us and to the Malawi UMC, who have brought us meals and given us books, who have kept our children and supported us emotionally and spiritually and physically, I couldn’t hold back the tears. We can never repay the debt that we owe to Belmont UMC, Glendale UMC, St. Joe UMC, Harlan UMC, and countless families and individuals. And the grace of it all is that no one is keeping record. All the love and support is freely given and we receive it with humility.
So, here we go. To return home. To honor the trust and prayers and love that we have received. To serve and to connect. To love and to grow.
Here we go…