Friday, April 26, 2013

Sequestered Flights.

As I left for Africa, I had quite a few hiccups along the way. At the airport, they would not check my bags all the way to Johannesburg since I only had a one-way ticket and could not prove I wasn’t staying in the South Africa.

I was warned this would happen... but hoped my papers inviting me to Mozambique would suffice.

They didn’t.

So, I was forced to buy a ticket back to the States.  
     --Yada yada yada.

I was not pleased, of course, because it was very expensive. But the greying woman at the American Airline’s counter assured me that it was refundable. So I bought it and was on my way.

(However, now that I’ve tried to get it reimbursed they are saying it’s not refundable! Please pray for it to work out. I would hate to have spent all this money only to be penalized. Thanks.)

Once my bags were checked-in, I was surprised to learn that my friend who purchased my one-way flight with her frequent flyer miles got me a first class ticket!

First class has seriously improved in the last 15 yrs.

They give you pajamas, a toiletry kit, and excellent food. But more than that, the seats go completely flat. It’s wonderful!
    ---Thank you BH for your generosity. I felt very spoiled.

But I get ahead of myself...

Even before I left Vegas, I learned that JFK was part of the sequestered airports and everything was delayed.


I was able to get on a flight to Dallas instead which promised to get me to London in ample time for my connection. 

Once in London, however, I was too exhausted to think about touring the city (like I’d intended). But fortunately, my first class status granted me access to the British Airway waiting lounge.


Having more than 8 hours to waste, I sauntered slowly through to the plush couches and all-you-can eat-drink-and-nibble-on buffet that makes up the lap of luxury called the First Class lounge.
       --Oh! Where to sit! Oh! What to eat first!

I slept the first two hours on a boxed-shape couch with my suitcase as a pillow. Who knows, I may have even snored.

But did I care?


When you are that tired... you find a way to sleep standing if necessary. Fortunately, things did not come to that.

I woke hungry and ate, then opened my book.

A few hours later when I could not read another page, I looked up to find the room filled with weary and worn travelers.

My sleep-deprived state had blurred them previously and miraculously muffled their sound.

There were easily several hundred people milling around like zombies.

Men in pressed suits sipped gin and tonics while checking messages on their phone; women in smart pumps riffled through their bags in search for hand lotion; and the odd kid that appeared, sat quietly engrossed in the latest video game.

Sadly, like me, few stopped to look up.

After a while of watching, I moved places to see if I could meet someone. I had been asking God for divine appointments and frankly, I wanted to tell someone an STS story if I could.

I’d been practicing.

Not long afterwards a Canadian about my age sat down next to me. We talked and swapped stories for a short time, but before I could fit in an STS story, she had to run off. Her flight was due to depart.

But before she left, we exchanged business cards as she eagerly asked to keep in touch. Hopefully, I’ll get another chance soon.

Once she left, I looked to my left. There sat a kind-faced man in his forties working on his computer. Emails. I think.

We started talking and immediately fell in to the deep things of God. Using what I had learned in the STS workshop, I shared a quick story about Nicodemus, jumping to the fact that ‘God did not send His son into the world to condemn the world, but through Him might be saved’ (John 3:17).

As I was about to move on, the man stopped me and said, “Wait. Don’t go on. I must think about this first... that is a powerful statement.”

It looked as if he had never heard that verse before, despite his Easter and Christmas attendance in church.

We eventually continued talking about what it was to have head knowledge of God, rather than heart knowledge. Delightful. We could have easily continued a long while, but soon he too had to catch his flight.

But he left reluctantly saying, “I will remember what you’ve said and seriously consider these words. Thank you for them.” Then he was off.

Lord, may he come to know you today. Open his heart to receive you. Thank you for providing the opportunity.

Soon afterward, it was time for me to go as well. My last flight was equally comfortable --more pajamas, even better food, and an attendant who turned down my bed for me.
     --Seriously! De-Lux!
But once I landed in Johannesburg, I quickly figured out that my bags were nowhere to be found. I suspect they went to The Big Apple without me. Fortunately, they arrived safely a day later.

To be honest, coming here felt like falling into a black hole. I lost all track of time. I gained a day... but lost three.

Jet lag has been tolerable. It helps considerably that I’m NOT traveling to Mozambique right away (more about that later). Currently, I’m staying at the Calvary Chapel Johannesburg guest house.

It’s a refreshing and beautiful spot with even more refreshing and beautiful people. Thank you CCJ for your hospitality and love. I’m so glad I’m here!

I’ll stop there for now... I hope I have not bored you with the minutia of my life. But I thought you’d all like to know I’m well. Oh! and please please pray I get my ticket reimbursed soon. Thanks.

Spinning Plates. Juggling Chainsaws.

My last month --despite every possible precaution against it-- has been a blur of spinning plates and juggling chainsaws.

Okay. Maybe that’s a slight exaggeration. Please note...the chainsaws were not running at the time.

“What does a month of spinning plates and juggling chainsaws look like?” you ask.

Great question. 

Let’s see... when I got back from Haiti, I hit the ground running.

The winners of the MGC!
Early the next morning, the Second Annual Missionary Golf Cup was underway in Mesquite. This fundraiser drew out twenty-eight golf and missions enthusiasts to hit balls and support the work in Moz. We were able to raise quite a lot.
    --Thank you for all those who attended.

The following day was Easter --a delightful and most incredible time of remembrance. At church, we celebrated with a fish fry and potluck.
    -- Yum!

Afterward I spent a week and a half hosting and being hosted as I entertained a dear missionary friend and then caught up with my family in Chicago.

Yep. You read that right. I spent a weekend in Shy-Town hoping that my sister would deliver the bambinos in her belly.

Yep. Bambinos. She was expecting twins!

My newest niece and nephew!
But alas, she did not deliver while I was there despite our natural induction attempts and lots of prayer. Nevertheless, it was great to be there during this exciting time.

(I’m happy to announce that she delivered the following week to our family’s delight. Welcome babies T and E. I sure do love you and can’t wait to meet you.)

The day I got back, I spoke at Calvary Chapel Meadow Mesa in Las Vegas. Although I was invited to speak, it was God who did all the speaking... to me.

What a wonderful whirlwind of emotion and clear anointing. What a blessing being a part of such a move of His Spirit! But more than anything, I just flat out needed that fresh touch from the Lord... as I was starting to wane.

“Then what?” you ask. 

Well... that’s when the plate spinning got a little faster, and more chainsaws hit the skies.

Bright and early the next morning, the Simply the Story workshop began.

STS leaders before the workshop.
This workshop took a week and a half of my life. Twelve hour days, stacked end to end for eight days straight left me blessed, but also very spent. It took another two days to recover.
    ---But WOW was it worth it!

When we started, I had no idea the joys and spiritual blessings God had in store.
   --What a ride! What an exhausting but thrilling ride!

At that point, I had just three days to say goodbye to all (aka: attend a funeral, a wedding, and a going-away party) and re-pack my bags.

Packing was easy compared to all the goodbyes.

Never before have I wept so much at my going. Never before have I longed so much to cling to those that stayed.
    --Truly, I love you all so very much!

And that is how my month was spent.

To those who prayed, Thank You! Believe me when I tell you I felt your prayers and so desperately needed them.

Moreover, I’m happy to announce that no chainsaws were destroyed in the making of this month... and only a few plates hit the ground.