My eyes snap open and I look at my phone. It’s 3:30 AM; can I still be jet-lagged on my fifth day here?
I’m in Quito, Ecuador, as part of the secretariat behind the Lausanne Consultation on Children At Risk. Since mid-March I’d been involved in organizing this — taking down minutes of Skype meetings, working on the budget, monitoring timelines, booking flights, coordinating logistics…in other words, doing stuff waaaay outside of my comfort zone.
Then, exactly eight months later, less than five days ago, I arrived at the airport in Quito, and the first thing I learned was that my baggage had been held by the TSA in Houston, “for inspection.” I suspected it was the EIGHTY thumb drives that they had found dubious; anyway what do you do when you arrive in a foreign city at 2 AM with only the clothes on your back? You pay $46 for express hotel laundry service, of course! (Sorry, people from home, that was my pasalubong money, down the drain.)
The next days have been packed with one humbling experience after another, as I worked to support dozens of global church leaders, theologians, ministry practitioners — all highly reputed leaders, who have come together to talk about how the church is to prioritize ministry to, for and with children at risk. Here, I am the queen of the menial tasks: printing, clicking, distributing, collecting, timekeeping, announcing, computing, encoding, counting — things I have done quite a few times (and have been improving on, I hope), in smaller contexts, since taking on this new supporting role in my organization. From dealing with conference material delays (among them the conference booklets and the flash drives in my bag, which did eventually arrive) to struggling to communicate with the Spanish speaking hotel crew about how the tables should be laid out in the conference room, to operating the computer and the projector through all the speaker presentations, to lifting up “10 minutes left” and “Time’s up” signs, I’ve just been going like the Energizer bunny.
Now here I am, wide awake, mind filled with images and passages and sound bites from the last two days’ presentations. And I’m thinking of Proverbs 19:21 — “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.” I never imagined, not in my 37 years, that today I’d be doing this kind of work, in this position, in this place. I’m recalling my days in Payatas, in the remote barangays of Negros, in provincial halls, in board rooms and training rooms…and now my journey with the Lord has taken me here. Oh, indeed, He has His special way of rearing each one of us, of that I am sure.
It’s only a bit over halfway done, but already this event has made me learn so much, and has filled my heart with the joy of serving God through these people He has anointed to move the church to deeper and more meaningful engagement with children. I am eagerly looking forward to what else He has in store.
So. I think I’m taking a shower now. It will be light soon 🙂