We’ve just returned from a whirlwind trip: Mae Sot > Bangkok > Paris > Lafauche > Paris > Chicago > Fayetteville > Little Rock > Fayetteville > Little Rock > Chicago > Paris > Lafauche + Troyes + Doremy + Strasbourg > Paris > Bangkok > …to Mae Sot on Tuesday.
That was a lot of stops, full of faraway places and people we love and incredible cities. I’ll post the incredible photos of it all in the coming days; I’ll tell a few stories.
As I look back on the photos in the weeks before we left, I see the exhaustion on my face. I see my glasses, worn due to another eye infection. I see our travels, to and from cities trying to breathe, trying to prevent another staph infection from requiring surgery; trying to survive. I see the loaves of bread that were still baked, the birthdays that were still celebrated, the classes that were still taught, the meals that were still served. But we were so, so tired in our souls.
This was the first time we left Mae Sot that I wasn’t sure I’d be back. I suppose I knew we’d at least come back for our stuff, but I didn’t know if we’d really return to all of this. It was so tempting to just leave it all behind.
Fast forward to Fayetteville, just two weeks after we left. I was sitting in a Passion worship night as they played a clip for Compassion International, whom they’ve partnered with to encourage child sponsorships.
It looked a lot like this.
For all practical purposes, that was my street on the screen. Those were my friends playing with a destroyed soccer ball in the street. That was my destroyed soccer ball. The speaker challenged people to give, “Perhaps you’re in a position…”
It wasn’t until that moment I realized I was looking for a way out. I had been for sometime, hoping God would agree, giving some sort of permissive exit: You’re right! This is too much for you. You’re free to go.
An honorable discharge, of sorts.
But perhaps I am in a position.
Perhaps I have a house already on that street; I already own the soccer ball. I already have the friends calling my name, and I know more of the language than the others in this particular room.
Perhaps my position doesn’t recommend me to give $38, but to simply use the plane ticket I already have. Perhaps I’m in a position to just stop looking for my exit strategy.
That evening, I knew we’d be going back. I still don’t know for how long, or what our next steps are, or what surprises will show up on my doorstep this week.
But we’ll be there for them. And we’ll have bells on for Christmas!
The best words I have for our trip are this: surreal, but nice. (Thank you, Hugh Grant.)
Surreal, because I never guessed we’d visit the French countryside, welcomed by the incredible generosity of friends who hosted us for a month. They made our meals, they gave us space to rest. They provided hours and hours of counseling. We curled up by the fire for reading and puzzles; we went for walks in freezing temperatures.
I never guessed we’d have the privilege to see Paris, visit the Louvre and take picturesque photos by the Eiffel Tower. All surreal. All oh-so-nice!
I didn’t guess we’d have this surprise trip back to the States. I wasn’t expecting to get to hug those necks for a few years more, and that is a beautiful surprise. I wasn’t expecting to be a part of those birthday parties or go to that Razorback game or watch my two brother-in-laws run the Chicago Marathon. So as I lived them, it just felt surreal.
We’re really thankful we got to go. We’re really thankful for the timing, as we head back to Mae Sot just in time to have yet another—our eighth!—community Christmas.
And most importantly, I’m really thankful for our community again. I looked through photos again today, remembering how much I do love them. Gosh, they are our world. That little home has so many memories for us, so many stories. And we get to be there again so soon, right where we’re supposed to be.