Saturday, June 24, 2017

Days 10 and 11. The wrap up.

It helps to try and look at the uncomfortable parts of any given situation as a chance to bond with the people around you, as well as grow stronger and more patient

Let me tell you…we did some SERIOUS bonding on the bus ride home from our team day outing.

Referring to my previous mention of the heat, and the lack of air conditioning…we took a large bus on our excursion, and it didn’t have windows that opened OR air inside.

AND we got stuck in a traffic jam.

For 3 hours.

With no air, conditioned or otherwise.

For 3 hours.

About halfway through the torture, we began to sing. Half Americans, half Kazakhs, all praising the name of Jesus to help us cope with the situation. It really was a special bonding experience.

The next day was labeled, on our itinerary, as “packing and goodbyes.” And that’s pretty much exactly what we did. Everyone began to throw dirty clothes into luggage, and strip sheets off beds, and pause periodically to play cards with friends who stopped by, and share songs and stories, and just be together for as long as possible.

Every friend we had connected with over the course of our trip made a smiling appearance, and they all came bearing food of one kind or another.

Because Kazakhs say “I love you” with food.

It was loud and cramped and there was always someone in the bathroom or waiting in line for it…and it was completely wonderful.

Some people slept, some people didn’t, and at 3 am we departed for the airport.

I will spare you the details of customs and security and all of the horror that those words imply. (Especially the part where 4 members of the team boarded the plane almost as late as its allowed to be boarded, thanks to the customs process.)

The crowd of Kazakh believers/friends who got up out of a dead sleep to drive with us or meet us at the airport, IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT, was overwhelming. There were as many people there to see us off as there were Americans leaving.

So many hugs.

And tears.

And hopes for reunions next year or sometime in the future.

We left a part of ourselves behind when we took off from the ground.

How fast my heart and soul bonded with the people around me. And that surprised me the most.

I LOVE them. I miss them. We all do.

We are headed home now, entrenched in the exhaustion of airplanes and airports and gross food and bad sleep and all the wear and tear of all that is behind us.

But I am excited, because we aren’t finishing a missions trip. We are continuing one. The mission now is to bring back all that God has done in us, and share it.

It is my prayer that I can take out a little bit of Kazakhstan church family love from my heart and shower it on my North Carolina church family.

Because we have been in a pressure cooker together (and by that, I mean the world’s hottest bus in the world’s worst traffic jam), and now we are bonded for life.