It’s hard to tell, as I write this, if today is Saturday or Sunday. We took off at 11 PM in Delhi, 10 hours ago, so it seems like it must be Sunday, but when we land five hours from now, it’ll be 4 AM. I suppose what day it is depends on which place I consider to be my current reality, an easy metaphor for coming home from trips like this I have no intention of unpacking.
The flight tracker on the headrest in front of me puts somewhere off the east coast of Greenland, having just descended from the white nothingness at the north of the map. It’s odd to see a trip around a round earth projected on a flat map, the line squiggles and curves as if we’re being piloted by an indecisive crew with a predilection for polar ice caps.
I seem to be the only one awake in this darkened cabin. I see the muted glow of a few movie screens still turned on, but the space is mostly only illuminated by the light of the “No Smoking” lights. I sit here in the blackness, turning over the events of the week.
My predilection is to accept my knee-jerk reaction when talking about short-term trips: as hard as it is to admit, in the big picture, these trips aren’t for them, they’re for you. You’re there to spend a few days wrestling off the blinders we force ourselves to wear.
But because people are grateful for your attentions, because children are eager and affectionate, it’s easy to overestimate the value of a few days work. I’ve seen people return home with puffed chests for daring to even venture into these places. This is how some people live their whole lives, buddy. Bravery is not required to use your vacation days to stop by and see them. You took a walking tour of a ghetto and handed out stickers. Take it easy.
But I think back again to what Peter said, that first sticky, hot day we arrived in Bihar. “God is already doing the work. We are just there standing by him.”
We are just there standing by him. The phrase sticks with me.
But we weren’t standing by him all that long. Could God do much work in something that small? We sang a few songs with big hand motions, told a simple Bible story, and handed them a coloring page. That’s not enough for anyone to do anything with.
But then I see this. A girl the first day we met her:
And then the same girl the next day, when we returned.
I wonder how much he could do if I stood by him a little longer.