American Again

We’re back.  The return trip was not easy, but it got us home.  The hardest leg of the flight was not the 17-hour flight from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to Washington, D.C., but the 1-hour flight from D.C. to Columbia.  It came after a two-hour delay for repairing the aircraft, which did not exactly inspire confidence.  Then the flight was turbulent.  Laura was threatening to rip the armrests off the seat next to mine, so I tried to sound calm and reassuring, but it was a rough flight by all accounts, topped off by a hard and fast landing.  I was glad to make up some of the lost time, but don’t know that I wanted to make it up taxiing to the gate! 🙂

It was wonderful to see our families waiting for us.  I saw a few tears, but they were tears of joy.  We had a brief wait for our baggage, prayed together, and we were on our way home, utterly depleted and completely satisfied to have been used by God.

Once home, I took a long, hot bath before distributing a few gifts to the family.  I was determined to stay up until normal bedtime in order to circumvent jetlag, but that didn’t happen.  The fatigue was simply overhwelming.  And, of course, my eyes popped wide open at 3 a.m.  But that was alright with me, since I was preaching this morning and wanted the extra time to prepare myself.  I also had the joy of baptizing two new disciples at the 8:30 service.  One was Ashley Pritchard, whose father was the first convert I baptized here in Barnwell.  The other was my son Jeremy.  He had expressed his faith to me before the Uganda trip, and while I was gone had a moment at SummerSalt when he professed Christ as Lord openly and publicly.  I’m delighted for him.  In a way I had not anticipated, baptizing these new disciples provided a sense of closure for me.  After all, why go half-way around the world to fulfill Jesus’ command to make disciples if we negelct to do so at home?

Throughout the day, people asked me, “How was your trip?”  I cannot answer that in a word, but I try.  It was life-changing.  It was heart-wrenching.  Mind-blowing.  Eye-opening. 

And clarifying.  That may be the most difficult aspect as a pastor.  It’s hard enough to deal with day to day administrative issues or the little brushfires that pop up all the time when you’re in ministry.  But somehow, it is presently impossible for me to care about the temperature in our sanctuary or the weeds in the flower beds.

Which leads me to wonder …  I was curious to discover at the beginning of the trip how mcuh I had forgotten, how easily I had slipped back into my comfortable life and pushed the harsh day-to-day existence of my brothers and sisters into the corners of my mind.  I can’t help but wonder if that will happen again, despite my sincere determination to resist.

gkr1996 posted at 2011-7-7 Category: Uncategorized