Three weeks of the sun heating
our skin as the ocean breeze blows it cool.
Three weeks of watching the
ocean waters stretch out past where I can see.
Three weeks of stealing kisses,
holding hands, and learning each other for these still newlyweds.
Three weeks of rest and
Three weeks of peace.
“What if we had never gone? What
if we found ourselves a nice warm beach? Wouldn't that have been better? We should have
gone to bloody Ibiza,” he said one night as we rested on our bed.
Three weeks of leave before
leaving military service. That’s plenty of time for sightseeing, beaching, and
vacationing. “How many people get a chance to tithe their time? What if we used
it to test all this out?”
“All this.” The idea of
missional work had been stirring in us and we so ached to actually be on the
ground somewhere. With backpacks and hiking boots we said goodbye to dreams of
sandy beaches and fruity cocktails and hopped on a flight to Crete where we
spent evenings playing chess and eating food late into the night.
We moved onto Athens and began
our amateurish attempt at following the steps of Paul. We filled our bellies
with yogurt and sweet honey each morning and discovered new locations and sat,
Bible in hand, reading aloud the words Paul spoke in that spot.
“Men of Athens, I observe that you are very religious in all respects. …..The
God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and
earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; nor is He served by human
hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life
and breath and things….”
We touched the water that
baptized Lydia and stood where Paul and Silas were imprisoned.
We walked through the ruins of
In Thessaloniki we did the same.
And here we spent Good Friday, marching along to the funeral dirge, sharing
candle light, following the crowds bringing the broken body of Christ from the
Orthodox Church in the center of town down the winding streets, past the sea as
they prepared to bury Him.
In the shadow of Mount Olympus He was raised. Red eggs thrown on the ground
at midnight and fireworks shooting off into the night sky welcomed Easter morn.
Fires were started and the lambs that we saw on trucks all week began slowly
rotating on spits in each backyard, a sacrifice symbolizing a greater
Back to the Internet café in
Athens before boarding the ferry to Patmos.
“Would you like to visit the team in Cairo?” The email we had been
A quick two days of mopeding
around Patmos and soon we were on a plane to Cyprus and from their to Cairo.
Names and numbers were separated
to protect the contacts as we went through customs. The walking through felt
holy and like the beginning of something significant.
We met our friend and I was told
to pull my hair back and keep my eyes down. It didn’t take long to find wisdom
in those words.
Days were spent taking Arabic classes;
evenings spent playing with children in orphanages. Days filled with meeting
Sudanese refugees, visiting trash cities and just living in Cairo. There were
no hotels, no tour groups. Just a couple getting to know a city and a people
they were quickly and deeply falling in love with.
There was a trip the following
year with others and plans to come back permanently. The imprint that the time
in Cairo had made on us was profound and life altering. Along the dusty streets
of Cairo we found purpose and meaning. We saw our future. It confirmed calling
and we knew that we knew that we knew.
We would be back.
But things happened. Support was
diverted to others. Other places, other families. And when the money dried up, so did my hope.
And now we are left with boxes.
Boxes of the post cards that announced our intention to leave. Artwork, photos,
letters, presentations. There is a vase on a shelf and a bowl that holds our
keys that remind me of our time.
“Blessed be Egypt my people.”
We grapple with our lost calling
and finding our way in ordinary life. And are we just getting too old? And how
would we get there now? And is it responsible of us to take our kids?
On bad days I push back tears
and anger when I hear others talk about support raising and giving and blessing
to others. Goers and Senders. How great
of us to be in a position to make others’ dreams come true. I feel stuck
wanting to be somewhere, but not being there.
On good days I can look through
the pictures and think of the day I bring my girls, their feet covered in dust
as the Call to Prayer echoes in the air, and tell them how this place changed everything.
And at night, when the house is
quiet and I’m the only one awake, I am somewhere between the two. I think about all the things that I can’t
unlearn, and I silently think, “Maybe, just maybe, we should have gone to
I'm sharing my story as part of a synchroblog to launch the book, Inciting Incidents, a collaborative work that highlights and celebrates the things that change us forever. Be sure to check out the book and read some of the other amazing stories that have been shared! Big thanks to Tracee Persiko and Alece Ronzino for the encouragement to participate!