And so we left with musical tunes ringing in our ears. With slightly damp and tired eyes we focused on the future. The future. The unknown. The black area in front of us that has not unfolded yet. A large question mark.
The unknown festers inside some in a box labelled fear and anxiety. In others that instability and unsteady ground is the opposite. It is a great ball of excitement that cannot be contained in a box and has no label big enough to explain the shear freedom that is experienced in the great unknown.
You see that is all part of the fun. The excitement. The freedom. The joy we have in life. Ally and I were defiantly excited about the unknown.
We said goodbye to the parents, which was an emotional situation where no one really wants to cry or say anything stupid as a parting comment to be remembered forever. So there was just a lot of repeated hugging and the repetitive chant of
“I love you” “I love you too” “I love you” “I love you too”
which obviously initiates some damp eyes and the old British stiff upper lip, though wobbling, dutifully comes out to play. This was of course after the missing paper work, broken printer, fire alarm, the evacuation, the fire fighters, the 20 questions from security and a very enjoyable fish finger sandwich.
Fast forward…. Because no one enjoys long haul flights…
We arrived to another 20 questions from security and a very hot and sticky Los Angeles, but most importantly to a very lovely lady named Elisa who was ourtour guide (the best L.A tour guide we’ve ever had!).
I have known Elisa since school and we hadn’t seen each other for a few years so it was a great chance to catch up.We did some hiking L.A style, surfing with dolphins, swimming… went to see some comedy and somehow got involved in a random campfire party. Full of fun and frolics we listened to some improvised comedy and drama, some playwriting and some musical performances. The host ordered a 54”x 54” pizza (look at your TV to fully comprehend the size of this pizza), we made tie-dye t-shirts and then we took Chinese lanterns (baby dragons) and let most of them fly from the top of a multi storey car park, until we got chased away by a man in a white van. Most of the dragons made it. Then we went to a bar and saw Bruce Willis. Random. This may sound like a dream one may have after eating cheese late at night. Oh no this all really happened!!
On to Chino, California to visit a family called the Edwards. I went to visit them when I was 19 and wanted an adventure. I stayed with them in Ecuador and had an amazing time. It was such a blessing to see them again and their 6 boys all grown up and adult like. They are a family that truly love God and live that love out daily to others, showing peace and kindness to everyone around them and it was a privilege to stay with them for a while and learn from them.
From the Edwards to Texas? We picked up a hire car and started our 22hr drive to East Texas. Seeing 22hrs on the satnav is something I have not experienced before and just that screen resulted in a sharp inhale and a very large sigh. We had a long way to go. Luckily we had a wonderful 7 seater minibus/ which came complete with many gadgets that Ally was able to explore, break and fix by the time we arrived. The seats disappeared, then reappeared, then disappeared, and then reappeared. The doors opened and closed all on their own, which entertained us both for a while. Unfortunately it didn’t put our luggage in to the boot nor did it unloadour luggage or at least we couldn’t find the right button for that.
California was exciting with her mountains and emerging desserts. She developed cacti and the colour green seemed to completely disappear from the colour chart for a while and then we stumbled on Arizona. The mountains changed shapes and sizes and miles passed, along with Arizona. Then with the rain came New Mexico. Rain, thunder and lightening followed us as we drove mile after mile. The people got more and more odd as we travelled down the Interstate Ten. The accent got thicker and more and more people wanted to hear our British tones until we were nothing but performing parrots.
A large lady in a petrol station greeted Ally with a loud“Hay Bayyybay” and we knew we had arrived in Texas, the lone star state (not entirely sure what that means).The drive was long but interesting.
Once we had driven 20 hrs Ally turned and said to me “You anxious?” I was a little confused and replied “no”. Then I realised we were nearly there. The holiday was over the visits had happened and the drive that I thought would never end, ended. The reality dawned on me. I was just about to meet the 20 people that I would spend the next 7 weeks of my life living with, working with, eating with and travelling with. I had the sudden rush of adrenaline and felt a little shaky as a remembered that I have a small fear and that is the Christian human. Male or female, child or adult doesn’t seem to matter but I just struggle with the race that is Christians. I heard an interesting quote today from Gandhi that the only thing that stopped him from following Christ was his dislike for Christians. At times I feel like I can defiantly relate to that.
So I found some anxiety after all.
We got to the airport, dropped of the hire car and looked around for someone that resembled the description we had in an email. I love the fact that in East Texas in an extremely remote airport the second people we spoke to, after the ‘Hey Baby’ incident, were two Germans. I can assure you they definitely did not say
“Hey Baaaby”. Welcome to the international organisation that is Mercy Ships. So Ally, our new German friends and I jumped in the car and we went to the Mercy Ships headquarters 45 minutes away and had a small tour of the area.
We had some time to rest and then straight in to teaching. We have learnt so much in a short space of time. We have met some amazing people and my ‘Christian’ fear is quietly shrinking in the back of my mind. Everyone here has a story to tell that is fascinating.
There are 7 nationalities represented within our training group so it’s multicultural, interesting and exciting. We are having a lot of fun and I hope we will continue to do so.
On the 24th October we leave for our 27hr journey to the Congo, Central Africa. After a few stops we will arrive, wipe off the sweat and jet lag and start a project in a local community. We will step into our roles as Nurse and IT support on the 8th of November.
We cannot wait and are excited about the next unknown!
Thankyou everyone for your ongoing encouragement, prayer and support.