main menu

May 19, 2016

until the day dawns

There's no sunlight yet this morning. Around me dozens of travellers are draped under blankets, stretched across two seats each, dead to the world. Beneath me wheels are turning at a steady pace, taking us to the airport in the big city. My mind is too awake to sleep, but too asleep to do more than pray a few partial prayers.

 Odd-hour voyages, sad farewells, and quiet petitions for the people I'm leaving behind have become the stuff of my life in recent years. This time we're just travelling to visit North America, and we plan to continue living in Europe, but upon our return, we're moving an hour and a half down the road. Last night our regular Wednesday evening group gathered in our friends' home instead of ours. We attended only the meal portion of the evening and then bid everyone farewell and headed home to finish packing. One of our international friends said, "I love you!" to me for the first time as we left. Part of me was touched. And part of me thought, I already love too many people. Do I have room in my heart to love one more person? To pray for another person? God must think that I do. As we walked home, my husband said he felt like a parent leaving his kids home alone for the first time.

Recently, I heard a speaker say that God often uses our upbringing or background to create our platform for ministry. He spoke of David, who played the harp presumably to pass time while watching sheep, but became so skilled in playing that he ended up in the palace. He said that often the very things that seem ordinary to us are the things God chooses to use to bless others. I realized that God is taking my history as a TCK, a constant hello- and goodbye-sayer, to provide a platform for loving other internationals who may have less experience moving or no Anchor to steady them through transitions. Sometimes we feel tired by cross-cultural living, transitions and language learning, but we can see that it has created unique opportunities to love people of many backgrounds, cultures and religions—although the goodbyes never get easier.

A few weekends ago we visited a church in the city where we will be moving. It was nice, but I told my husband that it seemed too white for us. (I hope white people are allowed to say such things.) Outside the doors of the church, there are Turkish kebab vendors in both directions, a vast Asia Mart, a salon offering Brazilian waxing, and a shop selling African groceries. But inside the church building, the audience was 99% Caucasian and I only smelled curry one person's clothes. I told my husband, "Maybe we should look for a church with more cultural diversity." And we might. But my husband reminded me that perhaps the white church needs a white international couple to bridge the gap between the church and needy internationals, to remind them of the darkness on their own doorstep. He might be right.

It's still dark on the way to the airport and we're waiting. For sunrise. To reach the Flughafen. To see our families. To move into our new apartment in our new city. But more than that, we wait "until the day dawns and the morning star rises in [our international friends'] hearts." "Now we see things imperfectly...but then we sill see everything with perfect clarity"—when the Son comes, there will be no more goodbyes, and no more night.