Saturday, July 30, 2005

The god of the Whiter Brighter Smile

As I made my way through the dark and deserted streets the first night, the statues on the corners disturbed me. In judgment, my heart thought "see, those gods in their enclosed glass containers didn't protect you!" But the more I think of "idols" and "idol worship", it came to me that the "American Idol" is not perched on some streetside in a glass case - but ours does scream out from the billboards "but me for: More.... Better... Bigger... Whiter Brighter!

Friday, July 29, 2005

I Once Was Lost...

... but now I'm found

Praise be to the Father for His safe care and watchfulness! The office workers confused the day that I was to be picked up (since I arrived at midnight) and all is now well, and I’m at the orphanage. Today was my first full day with the children and we took Polaroid photos. It was the first time the children had photos taken they could keep. They had a blast! Tomorrow we will be traveling and return to the orphanage (Samudra Sri) Tuesday. One of the schools will be all Buddhist children - but they have been so impressed with the help the Christians have given since the tsunami they have given us an invitation. I will be performing at a church on Sunday, Monday will be in the "hardcore" ghetto, and we'll be back to be with the children here at the orphanage.

The food is hot (like the weather) so I thank God I’m from Texas. And I thank God for each of you and your prayers - they are needed, felt - and I am confident being HEARD.

Our God is MIGHTY! To His glory! Smiling - and FOUND

Background Noise

The balcony of Samudra Sri Children's Home has a fantastic view of the ocean. The sounds of the waves crashing makes for a good night's sleep. But just a few short months ago - this same ocean unleashed itself against the land and overtook it. Miraculously and thankfully for the orphanage, its location, perched on a hilltop, kept it from damage. The water reached the ground floor but there was only minor flooding.

At the edge of the grounds is a tall chain link fence. The beach and ocean just outside the walls. I asked one of the workers if the children play on the beach as I see no signs of typical tropical activity - I've only seen one fishing boat.

Their comment, "fear keeps the beach uninhabited" and even I confess as I look out at the magnificent water - its magnitude and the reality of what it is capable of, is a bit unnerving. It is so huge - as far as the eye can see across the horizon - I can't imagine it coming ashore, full force - nothing stopping its advance.

Yet here, where the waves continually sound the presence of the past fury - there is laughter. The children joyfully playing against the backdrop of a tropical dream which one day turned into a nightmare.

There is no escaping this noise - this reality - this threat. There is only trust, trust enough that allows for joy and the sound of laughter.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Like No Place I've Ever Been


It's like no place I have ever been, and it's like every Third World place I've been. The street vendors, trash, poverty, dirt, masses - could be Ghana, or Kenya, the palm trees, tropical fruit stands, mini taxis that weave perilously in and out of traffic - could be Cuba. The traffic, the traffic, the terror - recollections of China and praying for air bags and good seat belts.

And then it is totally unique. The color of the people, their haunted eyes, the bewilderment that crosses their face when they see a lone blonde, blue-eyed Caucasian in the back of a car going where?

Why is she here?

"... struggling to find words for a reality that eludes the nouns and verbs of 'my' vocabulary.."

LOST in Sri Lanka

What day is it if you arrive at midnight? Is it the night or the morning? Twelve hours later I find out that whatever I conveyed in my email to the AED office, came across as 24 hours the wrong day.

I arrived on time and was one of the last to get my baggage - and entered the post-midnight throng of arivees. I figured, how many single white girls can there be coming in? I should be pretty easy to spot! Well... I would have been if someone would have been there - but again - no such luck. I sat in the humidity, and paced back and forth amidst the throng, weaved my 200 lbs of luggage through the drunks and disorderlies and prayed:

"darkness is not dark to You."

I perched atop my unusual luggage and fanned away the fear, turned down 101 offers for rides, cabs, tours, and telephone numbers - thanking God that I had enough presence of mind in Singapore to realize I did not have and address or telephone number of where I was going.

Two hours later, and all the people gone except for those strangers who had brought in a variety of oversized electronics (like refrigerators) I decided to trust a man to find me a hotel. Whether or not he was trustworthy - at 3:00 in the morning I didn't have much choice but to trust.

After many phone calls on his dying cell phone, then using the land line of some sleeping travel agents, he found a hotel that had internet access and space available. "Cash only please" Now, I am down to $20 US dollars and $100 in Sri Lankan money that I exchanged and hope. When I turned over my $135 US and he walked away across the dark parking lot - I had this thought "Oh well, he looked sincere enough." He did return with a van and driver and guaranteed to deliver me to the hotel (somewhere south of Colombo) and off we went into the darkness.

Strange feeling driving through abandoned streets, watching the time (wondering how long it was REALLY going to take) marveling at the wild dog packs, a variety of men gathered on street corners (odd time of night) and every block or so "idols" set up for prayers. The variety of Hindu gods and goddesses cast in clay - some painted, some plain - all silent.

It was weird!

I just kept praying... and praying. I felt somewhat at ease because if they were going to rob me or whatever, they sure were going out of their way and wasting a lot of fuel to do it. After almost an hour of seemingly endless deserted city streets, we turned down a side, I see only the silence of blinking traffic lights - flashing caution to the few cars that pass. Here and there are street repairs and I'm curious is it just new improvements or the repair in the aftermath of the tsunami? Finally we arrive at Mount Lavinia Hotel - a well preserved relic from British Colonial times. Even at 4:00 am the doorman is in white gloves and full colonial attire like a strange Hollywood movie. How did I get here?

Four hours later up with the dawn and fierce crashing waves outside my balcony. Well, if you have to be LOST, this is a good place for it! As soon as the business center opened I sent out the following 911 request:

There was NO PLAN B! I waited at the airport until 3:00 am and no one came to pick me up. So here I am at the Mount Lavinia Hotel right on the ocean. I have NO IDEA where I am in relation to where I need to be - except the nice man who helped me get here at the early hour - said it was the only hotel that was available with internet access!

So here I am (approximately 1 hour from the airport - I think south). The only number I have for ANYONE is off the website (I happened to think to check in Singapore) for the AED office in Colombo. It is now 8:00am and I will go and have some breakfast (hopefully I can keep it down) and then check my email again to see if anyone from AED has responded! Then I will wait in my room for a telephone call - I will try their office - or hopefully someone will call me by then!

Obviously with everything that is going on the enemy is pulling out all the stops. But we are unstoppable!

Lost - but smiling!

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Sick in Singapore

I am now inside the terminal awaiting boarding. This FREE INTERNET access is great and a good pass time and "call to arms" for the warrior (plus it is pretty cool to think it is nighttime here on Wednesday and only early morning there. HE has made a way for me to communicate across time and many many miles). I bought some ginger cookies hoping I could keep those down. Alas, thank goodness for all the airsick bags I snagged from the plane. They have come in handy. purchased different malaria medication as well as Dramamine and hope it helps. Just a few more hours and I will be at my destination. Obviously the enemy is afraid! I don't "feel" too bad - just a tad weak - which could be a combo of many things including hunger. Ah, the life of an itinerant missionary!

Tired in Tokyo

Thanks for the prayers.  I really need them. I am responding to you from Tokyo where I have a four-hour layover before going on to Singapore - overnight there and then on to Sri Lanka - arriving Thursday morning 12:00 am.  Long trip. I have been sick three times on the plane to Tokyo?!  I can't figure out what wrong – I hope it’s nerves and nothing more.  It’s been three days since I have been able to keep anything on my stomach! New diet plan - take Malaria medicine (I have determined this is the cause) so I am famished but queasy - I stayed indoors at the hotel - had room service (which promptly made an exit) and tried to get rested.  I am now back at the airport (4 hours early) and trying to kill time and perhaps get some crackers or something simple.  If this is any indication of the battle - well - it will be a battle!  Send out for reinforcements in the warrior team.  I stand firm!