How to even begin to wrap up an adventure like this? Just over 48 hours after landing at PDX and finally returning to our homes and families, the only definitive thing I can say is this: using mere words to describe our adventure is wholly inadequate, even impossible. We set out on this journey two weeks ago having almost no idea what to expect, which for some was immensely exciting, and for others, almost debilitating. We were a team of five individuals who could not be more different from each other. And through the fires of adversity, we became one.
Our reasons for joining the team were as varied as we were as people, but we all had one important commonality: we each believed God was leading us to go, and each of us responded to that calling. We were tested, pushed to (and beyond) our limits, challenged, and encouraged in ways we could never have imagined. Each of us found strength and endurance in our Father that we didn't know existed. Each of us felt pain, fear, uncertainty, doubt, heaviness of heart, confusion, disappointment. But we also felt hope, encouragement, joy, excitement, love, elation, and the indescribable sensation of a community of believers on a common journey. (And sweat: a LOT of sweat.)
Some of us realized we are much more fierce than we ever believed ourselves to be. We are capable of enduring intense heat and humidity, going without food or water for a time, sleeping in miserable conditions, going without showers, eating things beyond our comfort level, connecting with people across cultural boundaries, pushing through exhaustion and lack of sleep.
Through it all we did not forget our aim of visiting our partners and meeting some of Bright Hope World's partners who are yet to be funded. We were humbled and our faith was challenged as we saw people giving so much of themselves to their communities for no other reason than to love others with the love God freely gives each of us.
The world is a big place, and traveling through it gives one a perspective that cannot be replicated any other way. We merely had a taste of each of the cultures we visited, but what was immensely clear was that God is working through His servants in Thailand and India, and to observe the Spirit's moving in both countries was foundational to each of us.
After almost 50 hours spent in airplanes over 10 different flights in less than two weeks, we all arrived home, haggard, exhausted and relieved to be back with our families and loved ones. And yet, now that the sustained adrenaline rush is over and the dust is settling, we each realize that we've been through some trauma physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. Adjusting back to our timezone, to our communities, and our families is actually very difficult. It occurs to me that we went on an adventure, NOT a vacation, and adventures are oftentimes painful and exhausting.
I told someone today that our trip was sort of like skydiving: because the risk was so great, the reward is that much greater. But we each have to give ourselves permission to process, and processing a trip like this can feel downright horrible. The adrenaline wears off, and what you are left with is a jumbled car-wreck of emotion, some good but some that feels very bad. There is no substitute for time, and that is exactly what each of us needs right now.
From the bottom of our hearts, thank you to everyone who took the time to pray for us, read our blog, and invest in our journey with us. It's something we will carry with us for the rest of our lives, and we are eternally grateful to everyone involved. And to leave you with one last thing we all learned, Jordan makes the same face in pretty much every picture we take of him...
With love, Tom, Angela, Jordan, Katie and Kathi