Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Last Supper

We arrived in Maputo early--unheard of in the history of LAM (Moz Airlines). Today we relax with Restricks, long time friends (sounds much better than old friends, doesn't it?) from Lisboa days. In fact, we were reminiscing last night about Dave being my ride home from the hospital when Luke was born, and Rhoda singing him the alphabet song when he was a babe in language school. Seventeen years later he is the body guard for four women on an Italy trip.

Before we head out tomorrow morning, I just wanted to share the wonderful work God is doing in Quelimane, our home for the past 15 years. The Sunday evening dinner we hosted for the provincial leaders was a milestone. Let me help you visualize the four couples and us. We started on the front verandah for a "get to know each other." Of course they knew each other, but we wanted to hear their "biographies." Phil asked them to sit as couples, not the traditional men on one side, women on the other. Hmm. Lots of giggling and hands over mouths, but they liked sitting with their other halves. We heard about previous marriages--all common law, buried babies and much past grief.

The highlight encouragement was the verbal dream of each to be married in the church. None are married yet and only two of the women are with their first husband. What a background for them all--but they are seeing God's design and they like it. After the sharing time, which was a perfect ice breaker, Phil shared the Ephesians verse from the last post and gave each couple a book by Bruce Britten, Love and Marriage. Their homework is to read the first chapter together. There is a literate member in each couple.

We ate around two tables joined together and the women ate side by side with their husbands for the first time I have ever witnessed. Usually women sit on the floor with their plates and eat with their hands while the men sit at table. What a privilege to serve them and watch them relax and enjoy. Something tells me they are very open to the working of the Lord in their lives; there is considerable pain over wayward children. The most animated conversation, however, was about the upcoming wedding ceremonies and what should be included and excluded.

That was my last supper in Quelimane. What a send-off. Phil stays there with renewed hope and enthusiasm. He and Orlando have been proactive in visiting lapsed church members. Some already showed up on Sunday. Thanks for praying for the IEM leaders.

We, the pilgrims, will rise and shine before the sun tomorrow and it will be a long day on the road and in the airport. Our plane leaves around 7 p.m. and we will arrive in Rome by 2:15 Thursday afternoon.

We'll get back to you some time after that. Thanks for every prayer. K.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Preparing for the Journey

Tomorrow we fly out of Q for Maputo, the capitol, and from there we wend our indirect way to Johannesburg. Lately, we have been a few days in the actual preparation, i.e. packing.

What to take? What to leave? Perennial questions for the traveler. As much as I have traveled, I never feel confident that I have remembered what I will need or am not taking what I will wish I had left behind. For the moment, I am packed. Traveling light. OK, my suitcase weighs 10 kg (that's 22 lbs for us metrically challenged folk). In the packing process, I have been seeing that it is not what I bring that is important--or that will make or mar the trip.

It is being prepared mentally and emotionally that will give this journey its value. Kind of like life, don't you think?

I have high expectations. And we are a group of five, so there will be many more expectations than just my own. This afternoon Phil and I are hosting the provincial leadership team and spouses. We have chosen Ephesians 5:21 as the verse to concentrate on, to help them see themselves as a team or family. Seems to me that verse will be every bit as relevant to us five vagabonds heading out for Italy: "Submit to one another out of respect for Christ." or another version said: "Honor one another out of reverence for Christ."

However you look at it, Christ is the linchpin. The outcome of all those expectations depends heavily on submitting. I guess that is as good a place as any to prepare for a journey.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Beginning a pilgrimage

Two weeks from today, at 2:15 p.m., we should be arriving in Rome for a truly life-changing adventure. So long in the planning and dreaming~~it hardly seems real. Names that evoke an atmosphere of ancient ruins, mystic saints and medieval basilicas will become real for us: Pompeii, Naples, Assisi, Florence, Venice, San Sepulcro, Orvieto, Pisa . . .

and Rome, always Rome. Now we try our Italian and think of her as Roma, Florence as Firenze, Venice as Venezia. Visions of pasta, gelato, and cappuccino vaporize in our minds. Of course, there is the art, too. Now our minds think "Art" and images of gothic, golden-background medieval, and renaissance humanism flood to the fore. We will be overwhelmed, inundated. Already the names are a blur: besides the well-known Michelangelo, Titian, Leonardo, and Rafael, we try to recall Fra Angelico, Fra Filippo Lippi, Brunelleschi and a host that took our breath away. We have seen more Madonna and Child representations (copies on a computer screen), annunciations, depositions, and fragments of saints in golden legends than we could have contemplated. Art is a rich treasure which we will mine deeply.

Besides tantalizing the tastebuds and inspiring the eyes, I pray this sojourn will have a lasting personal, spiritual outcome. May we know more clearly why we are here and have a keener desire to be in the center of God's will.