I feel like I’ve traveled the world these past weeks, and I guess that’s because…I have! This writing finds me just back from an almost 20 day safari, which in the African language means “a very long journey”. And journey we did, some 20,000+ miles over these two score days. I did some travel accounting, and it still makes me tired. I slept in 13 different beds over 16 days and I’ve ridden in 16 different airplanes in 18 days. Lots and lots of safari. Not much sleep! But my, what I’ve seen on this journey!
If you read my last blog, you may remember that it was my good intention to blog a bit every day or two while I was on the trip, and upload the blog as the trip progressed, to provide some almost real-time reporting. Unfortunately, it seems that the parts of Africa we traveled are still trying to catch up on internet; while cell phones have taken the continent by storm, and seem to work anywhere–wi-fi (known as wee-fee in Kenya) is a different matter, and there was nary a signal to be located in most parts of our journey. In the rare locations where we had one, it took about 10 minutes to send a meager email. So… plan A quickly folded and plan B kicks in now. If you’re patient, and if you care, I’ll be taking you through our trip day by day in this blogspace, but I’m going to stretch it out in many installments so as not to bore anyone to tears. Too many words can be like too many slides–both of which are common maladies of missionaries and mission-travelers, of which I am certainly more the latter than the former. Missionaries are a breed unto themselves, and I have nothing but a near worshipful admiration for those who choose to serve God in these sometimes exotic and often extreme locations, far from the comforts of home, family, and a nation with a lot of benefits and freedoms afforded to no one else on the planet. Missionaries, without exception, love what they do. And I love them for doing it!
A couple of quick notes and this first epistle will be out of the way, so the really interesting stuff can begin. First, I must say a huge thank-you to our WACC leaders, each of them men I love and look up to greatly. It was by their (and WACC’s) generosity that it was possible for Travis and me to go on this trip. It was not cheap, nor was it easy–but it was good that we have gone and we will try to return the investment by helping you see what God is doing across the world in the lives of his children and even those yet to call him Father, as well as what will be accomplished as water begins to flow in parts of the desert that have never seen it; the water provided by WACC’s $42K Christmas gift to Kenya last year will quickly be followed by “living water”–the most important kind! So thank you, my friends, for making my travel possible and for letting me neglect you for three weeks. I promise to do my best to make it a worthwhile investment and help you experience it as much as possible for yourselves.
Second, I must offer a huge thanks to my traveling companion, Travis Vaclavik. It is no doubt quite the burden to make an around-the-world trek, but certainly it is made more burdensome by having to shepherd around a guy nearly twice your age, who also happens to be your boss, and who on rare occasions whines a bit when hiking up much-too-steep pathways in the hot sun. Other than that, I’m sure I was a perfect travel partner! All of the above-mentioned nights on the road in different beds and 16 different airplanes have been shared with me by Travis. He is quite the world traveler, having been so many places for a man so young. Since my last major trip to Russia was almost 20 years ago, it was very good to have a guide along who knew the airports, knew how to navigate customs and immigration, knew so many helpful tricks that make travel even sort of fun. And I’m glad to say that after enduring a lot of adventures and practically living together for these past three weeks, I still like Travis and I think he still likes me. And that says a lot!
There will be much more to say as this African travelogue unfolds; for now, my general conclusion on this day after the day I’ve come home is that it is really good to be home. There are comforts here and people here and blessings here I take for granted often; I hope this trip has taught me to value all of them more. And I hope I don’t forget this lesson. It has also taught me that God is big and He is a God who cares nothing about the squiggly lines we draw on maps–but who cares infinitely for the people who live within the boundaries of those different lines. I’ve had a rare glimpse of just how much He cares for them, and how His love and good news are spreading unhindered and with great effect halfway around the world. What a privilege it is to have been able to see some little glimpse of what He’s up to in places that before I could only have imagined….. God is certainly good at what He does, and all I can do is cheer Him on! The school children in Kenya have a little sing-song saying: “God is good, all the time. All the time, God is good. That is His nature. Wow!” Wow, indeed!
If you’re remotely interested in the details of our safari (in which we saw some wild animals but didn’t ride, shoot or stuff any) keep following this blogpage. If you’re not…. Well, now is the safe time to tune out, because there’s a long journey ahead!