Wednesday, March 15, 2006

The Send-Off

I think this may be the only photograph showing all five missioners: Sandy, Father Bob, Archdeacon Robert, Lisa, and Rick. In the St. Louis airport before departure.

We were instructed to arrive at the St. Louis airport no later than 9:45 a.m. on Tuesday, 21 February. We did. But we also had a delightful surprise! Michael Kinman – who visited Lui in the 2005 mission trip – had a flight that morning also, and he came early to visit with us and be with us. And deacon Susan Naylor, who also had visited Lui, came to the airport just to be with us. Both of them came also with some more gifts they wanted us to tuck into our baggage – gifts for their friends in Lui.

They stayed with us ‘til the very last minute before we had to go through the security checkpoints. They prayed with us, and for us, and over us. As they prayed, I found tears running down my cheeks. There was something in Susan’s prayer that moved me because I knew it came from a place of profound intensity – not a standard prayer of “God’s frozen chosen” (as we often joke about Episcopalians). It was clear in their prayers and in their hugs that something powerful had happened to them in Lui, and that they knew?/hoped?/trusted? would also happen to us there. And I knew in those moments that those folks would be praying for us throughout our trip, and that I would draw strength from those prayers.

Susan used a phrase then – which she had also used when I spoke with her before the trip – that struck me forcefully: that we needed to surround the entire mission in prayer. She was right. Undertaking a journey like this – where you leave behind everything that is familiar and embrace such an alien world – and in which you are working so hard to discern the Spirit’s will –you need to pray – individually and as a group/community – so that you can remain centered on the source of our being and focused on the people with whom you are working.

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