In a few weeks, this will all be over. I will be flying above the North Pole--Thailand and everything and everyone that makes it what it is just a speck on the horizon in the rear view window. Thailand behind me, the Lord's daily unfolding purpose and plan before me.
You know, I used to hate the months in between mission trips. I thought of myself as exiled; how ridiculous is that? I would spend the entire year daydreaming and impatiently awaiting those ten days, that one month, two months in the summertime when I would run away with the Lord to read His word on flowery hills during sunrise, to hold and love lonely children. (I have to ask myself, though: How many times when I left was I actually running toward my God, and how many times was I just running?) So many years with three hundred and thirty-four days rushed through and wasted for only thirty-one, fifty-eight, ten days to come. It's funny, but I never noticed before the hills soaked in morning glory outside of my Mississippi bedroom window, or the beautiful children in my own life who ate just as starved for love as the kids I have to hop on a plane to see.
At least, not until now.
I'm not really quite sure what I was expecting, y'know, deep down inside when I put my usual life on hold to come to Thailand for two crazy months. Maybe I was expecting/hoping to learn a little bit about life itself--and me. Maybe I was expecting to come and fall madly in love with the country and just know know know that I would move back someday and live here forever, adopting millions of Thai babies. For years now, I've been searching for where my heart is (or is supposed to be). My mom's is in Swaziland, and my older sister's in seeking justice for those who cannot on their own. But until Thailand, I didn't know where mine was. In Romania, where I spent last summer? In Swaziland, with the children living in the city dump? In Mexico? In inner-city Jackson? In art? In what? Had I already discovered what and where, and just missed it? I guess, really, I was just looking for something I hadn't found yet. Like U2's beautiful ode to longing, "I have climbed highest mountains/I have run through the fields/Only to be with you/Only to be with you/I have run/I have crawled/I have scaled these city walls, these city walls/Only to be with you/But I still haven't found what I'm looking for."
"...Only to be with You, only to be with You..."
Ah. That's it, isn't it? Four mission trips, one hundred and nine days away from home (one hundred and twenty-one if you count summer camp), and I'm finally beginning to learn. Maybe I don't have to find my heart in jungles of the rain forest or in the Sahara of the African plain--maybe it's just enough to find my heart in the open palms of my God. Maybe being in His will and wherever that may lead (China this summer, Russia the next, etc. etc.) is enough.
There's a prayer my family and I say every morning after breakfast and morning devotions. After doing it for so long, we can recite it without looking at the book while we peek at one another and early morning sunshine floods in through the east window.
"May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you: wherever he may send you; may he guide you through the wilderness: protect you through the storm; may he bring you home rejoicing: at the wonders he has shown you; may he bring you home rejoicing: once again into our doors."
I will be sad to leave Thailand because I have grown to love it over this past month and a half. But I will leave it because the Lord is calling me away, back home, and I am growing to love Him more than everything else and above all else.