In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. 1 Thessalonians 5:8
As I pondered this message to you, why did this verse enter my mind? Perhaps so I could enjoy a private laugh, and now with you.
2019 began with our quest to find airline tickets so that we could return to India early Spring. Almost a week later we purchased them; we would be leaving on the 7th of April. Lots of time to wrap up projects and handle other matters before leaving. Lots of time. I deceive myself. The last two weeks before departure are crammed with final appointments, final good byes, packing and details that cannot be handled until the last day or two. About 3 days before departure, I was flying non-stop. I encouraged myself that in 3 days it would end as I lowered myself into my first flight into Germany, direct from Orlando. I could push three more days. The last night I dozed in a chair, did not even slip into the clean sheets on our bed.
About a month before moving around the world, I began thinking about what needed to be done. Ordering the prophylactic that prevents Malaria never crossed my mind until we were in India a week. Grace abounds once again! I quickly ordered it, and it did arrive at my daughter’s home. She will bring it the end of the month. Until then, we have a partial bottle here. Disaster averted.
There were doctor’s appointments; all good. Must let the post office know plans for handling mail while gone. Must ask the Ormsbys, my daughter Lois’ family, to handle that. Do car maintenance before leaving and make sure it will be driven on occasion while away. Make arrangements to keep the lawn mowed and bills paid. Change exterior lightbulbs. Keep in mind what clothing we need to take, and be sure it is ready to go when the packing begins. It is a good idea to attempt to get, in our case, a six month supply of medication to take with us. This is not easy, and I arrived in India with this matter still hanging. I have placed an order at the pharmacy down the road. This is not a complete list and perhaps not the most important things. We endeavored to spend time with loved ones before we leave, make calls to others. We did not hit a hundred percent in this department, but we made every effort. Since arriving in India, I have been able to begin contacting those we had not been able to see. I am reminded that friends and grace go hand-in-hand.
Travel day arrives. It was a Sunday, so we went to church in the morning. While my head wanted to slip quickly out the back door after the service, this did not happen. We went forward with a family that was joining the church, a family that we “took to” from the first time we met. What a blessing! Also with us in front of the church was a visiting missionary family, whose parents we knew. The church prayed for each of us and personally offered words of love and encouragement that morning. We must remember the important; I would remember that throughout the journey.
The Ormsbys arrived at 3 o’clock that afternoon to help us weigh and readjust our luggage as required to meet airline regulations. We were traveling with Lufthansa for the first time in a long time, and I was concerned about our carry-ons, but I took as little as I could in them. I calmed my mind with preparedness to deal with opposition when it came.
The good-byes to tell your children and grandchildren are never easy. As the grands grow, our relationships strengthen and my heart yearns still for theirs and my arms to squeeze them. India will join us with her family in about 3 weeks. Harry and I are excited, but I ache for Lois and her family. This longing is more because she is sick. Familiar longing and heartache is buffered by confidence in their church family. They are among the tender mercies of God, always there if we will allow them in.
We said our good-byes. Time to check-in. While waiting in line, I watched everyone in front of us being checked in. They had more and larger carry-ons than we did. Didn’t they see the online regulations? No one was being questioned or hassled though. Nor were we. We were greeted and dealt with in the the most amiable way ever. I signed up for their frequent flyer program the night before and handed them a facsimile of our card and we breezed through check in. I was carrying an extra bag of things for our children that would be following us in several weeks. I was prepared to pay about $300, with credit card in hand. They said we came up in the system as loyalty club members and that this bag would be complimentary! As well, they tagged our bags as priority. This story continues in Mumbai.
We had an addition and monumental blessing in security when a mistake was made by airport assistance. I will spare you the details, but it was nothing short of a miracle involving a misplaced carry on containing the money we brought to India. A moment of praising God, for sure.
Travel is not a fun adventure anymore. It is not because we are seasoned travelers. Air travel is forever changed since 9/11. Combine that with increased mercenary attitudes. Lower expectations for the traveler can help make travel pleasant enough.
Nothing remarkable in Germany. On to Mumbai, modern day Bombay. In Mumbai, we switched to a domestic airline that has since completely canceled all flights; our was a simple, but 12-hour delay. With much experience, I had little doubt we’d have to pay for that extra suitcase. Without a word, it was checked through to our final destination. I could hardly contain my delight. I remembered the morning prayer at church and those that pray for us throughout our journey. I considered, “So, that is why.” My heart warmed and my faith is strengthened.
I will share one story from the time on the Bombay airport. I was hungry so I went to get an omelette. Even though it was carry out they told me to sit. I told them I’d wait standing up and was watching a plane taxi, occasionally glancing over to see how my omelette was coming. What I saw stunned me for a moment. The chef was bringing my omelette to the counter and it began to slip off the side of the plate. Another young man caught it in his hands and plopped it quickly onto the plate, making scrambled eggs. They shared a good laugh then noticed me watching, but still continued toward me with my eggs. I told them I’d not eat that, that it was a dirty thing to do. One man disappeared; I’d already paid. I knew I would never get a refund. The cook made me another one as I watched his every move. His embarrassment was obvious. I did eat this omelette, but what a reminder of what I suspect is commonplace. The omelette was delicious!
Throughout the journey I get a little rest, and my mind wanders throughout the world, and into the heavens. Possibilities at the end of this journey and hope.
We are in India now, have settled and are now unsettled for a couple of weeks as painting has begun in the grandchildren’s room. We built this home almost 25 years ago and are handling several needed improvements before Mother’s Day and Anniversary Sunday, the following week. I believe it will get done and I know that the pressures of the next week or ten days will pass and I will be thankful we completed the projects, helping to ease the memory of what is going on around me at this very moment. At this moment, the repairs and improvements feel like chaotic insanity.
My jet lag has passed. I am preparing to begin ladies classes Friday. The first week, or two, we will discuss the application of Biblical knowledge to our lives, then we will begin the book of Esther. I have consider that I will get as much from the class as anyone else. it is my prayer.
I am here, almost 10,000 miles from our other home. This is home now; I have a church family. We worship the same God, and ask the same Father for our needs as all the adopted children of God do throughout the world. This life we live causes me to see things on a broader plane. I have to; there is no other way to survive.
To the people of the world I say, do not give up hope, pray for India. Gladys Staines, ambassador for Christ.