Post 101 finds me in the midst of a startling revelation. I realized on Sunday that I have not been out of the country since May 2010, making this the longest I have been in America since my sophomore year of high school. Yes friends, it has been 10 years since I have spent 15 consecutive months in the US.
No wonder the traveling itch has been bugging me the past few weeks. And sad news bears that there are no plans anytime soon to travel across any oceans or borders. Every time I hear someone talking about their upcoming or recent travels anywhere in the world, I feel a longing to hide in their suitcase and go along. There are so many places I miss that really I could go anywhere pretty much and be at “home”. So, instead of traveling forward, I’m going to take a moment to travel back to those places dear to my heart. Bear with me, as I remember…..
Ukraine. I miss Vinnitsa, Litin, the Banana Machina, Pastor Pavel, cute Ukrainian children, VBS camps, listening to beautiful voices singing melodic praise to the Lord in the Vinnitsa Baptist church, ice cream, cows wandering in the streets, the complete ignoring of all traffic rules by drivers in the cities, squatty potties, little Babushkas with no teeth but strong hearts and real love for people, our translators, our host families, cabbage rolls and borscht, 6 year old artists, more kids coming to camp each day as the week progressed, cold showers, outdoor markets, parks that still have communist-era statues and memorials up, meeting at the church each morning to go to our different villages for camp, stories of God showing up in ways we couldn’t imagine, riding on scooters, stuffing 15 people into a 6 seat van, Ukrainian hospitality, Viktor and Jana and their family….I could go on and on.
South Africa. I miss climbing up the mountain in the village with Niger and Mahtombi, getting to know Elvis, Vovo, Xolosile and his family, the vast sky that never ends, dancing, singing, 5-15 year olds fascinated by my hair, 3 hour church services that include a conga line and 2 or 3 sermons, the accents of the Xhosa people, learning how to click my tongue properly, living with Ronnie and Janet Vehorn, walking and praying together in the early morning frost, playing soccer in the heat of the afternoon, learning to drive a stick shift on the opposite side of the road, hot fetcakes with peanut butter and honey, chickens laying eggs in the house, waking up freezing and going outside to warm up, sleeping 3 to a bed, expecting 150 children to show up for VBS and arriving to find the room packed with over 700, going to “the uttermost”, holding a lion cub, spiritual warfare, seeing people living in houses made of dirt yet with more joy than the richest people in America, going to Queenstown for fun, Christmas in July, tent revivals, swimming in the Indian ocean, sunrises and sunsets that leave you breathless, pineapple fanta….oh, there is so much it almost hurts.
And Germany. I miss Berlin and what a unique and international city it is, döner stands, the rich history of the nation and the city, Freie Universität, Richard, Andra, Ulrike x 2, Susanne, Sophie, Veronika and Jenny, Silvester Freizeit, Campus Meets Berlin, Haus Nazareth, Monte and Anne Keltner, the Ploners, International Baptist Church Berlin, currywurst, walking along the canal, parks everywhere, Milchkaffee, Kaffee und Kuchen, riding the Bahn, the Brandenburger Tor, Ampelmann, the S-bahn Cafe’, U7, Prenzlauerberg and Steglitz, Balzac coffee shop, Unter den Linden, the TV tower, the Berlin Wall, football (soccer) games, World cup fun, the Sony Center at Potsdamer Platz, messing up when speaking German, getting it “right” the first time in German when trying to communicate, the seemingly never-ending process of getting a visa, moving to Neukölln for the second year on STINT, riding my bike around the city, the badeschiff (huge pool set in the river), retreats and conferences on the east sea and at the Cru castle, driving on the autobahn, traveling to other places in Europe, family visiting, Fassbender und Rausch, The Gedächsniskirche, the zoo, summer projects, spring break trips, Cafe’ am neuer See, rowboating around the lake with my little buddy David Sfura, Potsdam, Charlottenburg Schloß, learning to share the gospel in German, my team, Habibi, Baraka, Hermannplatz, free museums on Thursday nights, Berliner Dom, Half chicken and fries, Ritter Sport chocolate, Penny Markt, movies on the Beamer, Anne Keltners cooking, re-decorating my and Sarah’s room at Haus Nazareth, my favorite park in Steglitz, movies at Potsdamer Platz, shopping and gelato with Ulrike S, Cafe’ Bilderbuch with Ulrike N, gelato, people watching (especially tourist watching), races, Christmas, and life! Oh Deutschland, ich vermisse dich sehr.
These are only a few memories, and a glimpse of hundreds of pictures, each reminding me of these places and people I love. The Lord has called me to Indiana for this time, that much I know. But oh Lord, please don’t let it be forever, for my heart belongs to the world.