It’s 1:45 a.m. in the Marianas, and I have a flight to catch in about four hours. It’s a long way from Guam to South Carolina. Lots of hours in airports. It’s a good thing I like to fly, because there are too many airplanes between me and home.
The weird thing about this summer is that, though it took me all over the world, the three unplanned days I spent in Guam piqued my curiosity more than any other place I visited. I owe a friend I (admittedly) don’t know very well a sincere thank-you for the random invitation that brought me here.
I can’t shake the feeling that I’ve got to come back. I don’t know when. Or how. Or why. Should I come to teach, as a missionary suggested to me this evening? To get a random job and serve in a local church for awhile?
Saipan reminded me that real ministry is often very uncomfortable. When you realize that being in the minority isn’t always fun, when the novelty of eating Chinese food with chopsticks wears off and you just want a cheeseburger, when you’re learning more Korean cuss words than your ESL students are learning English…
So, wow, maybe sometimes following Him is actually a sacrifice. Up until this point it has seemed more like a big, fun adventure, with some world travel thrown in for good measure. Woo-hoo, nothing like a sanctified vacation with some good deeds to give you the warm fuzzies.
Sometimes the ministry is like stargazing on the perfect summer night, a hug from a young child with whom you shared the gospel, a sacred, quiet chorus of “Nearer, Still Nearer” at the end of a week of street ministry in a Mexican village. But that’s not all it is.
Sometimes it’s the touch of peace you feel when you fall asleep on a floor surrounded by three-inch bugs, and you know that it’s only grace that allows you to sleep another night. Sometimes it’s the peace, the reassurance, the melody. But sometimes it’s not.
Either way, it’s worth it.
But… what of Guam? Between hiking, swimming, sleeping, reading, visiting with new friends, and tearing up my hands while climbing the flinty ash-gray volcanic rock, I feel like I’ve only touched the surface of this place. Who are the local people here?
What is this place like when you get past the slow-as-molasses customer service, the tourist industry, and the $5.10/gallon gasoline?
One thing I do know: I’m going back to the States tomorrow, and by God’s grace, in the next few months I’m going to get my finances, responsibilities, and general life-stuff in order. I’ll do the whole senior year thing one more time, get my degree, and move on. To somewhere.
Years ago, I made the Lord a promise. I told Him I’d go anywhere, even if it meant going alone when I’d rather share it, even if it meant giving up the melody, the comfort, the fellowship I’ve come to treasure. The more I travel, the more I realize that could be much harder than it seemed.
I’m still in.