I write to you tonight having made an 8 hour trek across Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. Leaving family after the holidays is never easy. However, this year it was made easier by the fact that I had such a joyous time with them.
Christmas is my favorite time of year, but this year I went into it feeling less like a care free child and more like an aware adult. The troubles of friends and loved ones weighed heavily and was matched by the dismal lack of snow.
It took a Christmasy day in New York City, two Christmas parties, and a baby shower to build the holiday spirit.
Diving into cookie baking, a huge Christmas meal with family, a traditional Christmas Eve, and a relaxing and festive Christmas day removed the last of the stressors and left me feeling grateful for God's blessings and ready to launch 2015.
More on that later.
Before the year ends, it seems necessary and appropriate that I post the final installment of my Mission2India journal.
This entry continues the same day as the one in my last post. It is a travel day and a time of reflection.
8-23-14 and 8-24-14
Realizing that it was getting late, I scurried up to pack and shower. Sleep would not be an option tonight.
As it was, K and I were some of the last to arrive at the van at 1:05 a.m. Meeting time was 1:00 a.m. It seems we were the only two on Indian time.
In my hurry to get ready, I had not had time to write my “story” about the trip to take back with me. I tried to write it on the bus, but nothing flowed. The stress of leading and the sadness of leaving weighed too heavily.
I gave up and opted to take in all the final scenes streaking by my window. My level of exhaustion was confirmed when I thought I saw three white tigers running across a rooftop. In reality, they were just lights. Apparently, I have a rare condition that makes me see animals everywhere when I am tired.
We arrived at the airport and unloaded the luggage. Numbness settled over me as I walked up to the line, counted the group, and made sure we had all the bags. Mechanical movements to delay emotion.
All too soon, it was time to say “goodbye” to M, P, S, and V. The tears began flowing and I moved to the last place in line. The team filed past giving hugs and farewells. Then, it was my turn.
I hugged and cried and laughed when M took out her phone and took a video of me. She wanted to show the girls how much I cried. J
Suddenly, the team called me to attention. I had to show the officer the itinerary. I finished blubbering and rushed to the front. It took me a minute to retrieve the packet from my bag, but I had it.
Inside the airport, we got down to business: check bags, goodbye to A and An, long/stressful security line.
My “teacher field trip” mode kicked in as I nervously counted team members, checked my watch, and worried about the long line. We got through after both Ki and Aa got their rocks taken away. Then we headed for the gate, arriving with little time to spare.
We boarded the plane and settled in. I was so weary physically and emotionally. On the flight, I finished Million Dollar Arm and watched Wreck it Ralph and Captain America. Food came and went. My feet became ever increasingly swollen and painful. Sleep came and went. Tears flowed as I wrestled with why I had even gone to India in the first place.
Our layover in Doha passed in a haze of exhaustion. The only productive thing I did was write a few encouragement cards for those I had missed doing. The desperate desire for home kicked in full force.
When we finally landed at JFK, I just wanted to curl up and be home with my parents. Heading back to my own rented room did not sound like enough to soothe my weariness. Leading had lost its shine. Being a little girl with someone to care for her held a much greater appeal.
I hobbled off the plane on my ginormous cankles. Though I am used to swelling up on long flights, pain had not occurred before. It must have been that my toe was already injured and swollen, so the standard swelling grew to more than my foot could handle. Fortunately, by the time I limped through passport control the intensity had worn off.
Just after customs, Aa was cruelly separated from us by a mean officer. He had to rush off to his connecting flight before any of us could say a proper goodbye.
Out in the lobby, many had family members to greet them, but I was just the extra. Of course, T’s mom was welcoming, so that helped. K’s mom’s cookie bars did too. Mmmmmm. Chocolate.
The commotion died down as all left except for R, S, C, I, and me. We slumped in uncomfortable chairs and waited almost two hours for S’s mom to arrive.
Sleep came and took me through the final minutes of waiting. When the van arrived, we hurried out, loaded up, squished in, and set off. On the ride, we all shared bits about the trip, but no one was ready to say much. Too much to process.
When we got to Calvary, I hugged S, and headed for my car. Opening the trunk revealed pumpkin plants! The seeds we planted symbolically during prayer stations grew! They were weak from the darkness, but gre apart from the U.S. Symbolic? For sure. I pray that the seeds we planted in India and that India planted in us grow and bear fruit.
When I arrived home, I lugged my bag upstairs and called mom and dad immediately. I shared about the trip some and showed them my toe via Facetime. Dad thought it was broken.
The family I live with returned and I chatted with them for a bit. It was hard though because all I felt like saying was negative. I was so drained and needed to spend some serious time with the Lord to let go and move on.
Eventually, I got what I needed and dropped into bed. Slept like the dead.
In the days after the trip, I found out my toe was NOT broken and began to process all that happened in India. It took some prayer, some Bible reading, a meeting with my mentor, plenty of Netflix, and LOTS of sleep. Never in my life have I spent that much time in bed doing nothing. It was glorious and necessary.
My stupor wore off after about a week and I finally began to see all the amazing things God did through the trip. Though I was not a perfect leader and there were many challenges, God had used me. He used me as an instrument to bring 13 other people to India for the first time. They experienced the work of World Orphans. They built relationships with precious children and loving caretakers. They will never be the same.
Neither will I.
Leading the trip stretched me in ways I have never been stretched, but I would not change a thing. It was incredible to reconnect with those I love in India. Most importantly, the whole experience of planning, leading, and processing the trip showed me over and over that IT'S NOT ABOUT ME.
None of the trip was about me. Nothing I do is about me. It's about God.
He deserves the glory. He is doing the work. He has the plan. He chooses to use me because He loves me.
That's what it's about. To Him be the glory.