According to my iPhone, which I've already set to Thai time, It's 9:46am. My body isn't so sure. It's 10:46pm back in Columbus. We've been at this for quite some time.
It takes a couple of hours to get from Columbus to New York, and then about 14-and-a-half hours to Seoul, 5-and-a-half to Bangkok, and an hour or so to Chiang Mai. Add in layovers and we're at 30+ hours from port to port. The interactive map glowing in the headrest of the seat in front of me says we're somewhere between Taipei and Hanoi. Which means that we'll be in Bangkok before long.
I slept well on the big flight, but I'm still exhausted. That's the way it goes; I'll be pretty tired for the next day or so, and then I should be pretty much done with the jet lag.
I'm traveling with Kori, Xiu Dan and Pak. Chien is staying in Columbus and working about 50 hours a week, holding down the homefront. This trip is a relatively short one in terms of days on the ground. Kori can only manage five weeks off, and that's taking all of her vacation days and leave-without-pay days in one big chunk. This year, I'm coming home with my family. Last year, they left after about six weeks and I stayed on for a total of 13 weeks, hosting various teams and accomplishing things that, frankly, can only happen in person.
Important stuff, yeah. But never again. You can hold me to that.
It wasn't just the duration, it was the pace. In 13 weeks, I figure I had a total of four days off. By the time week seven rolled around, I was already past tired and probably not at my best. We had our normal (well, "usual" is probably a better word, as none of this is particularly "normal") mix of wonderful yet tiring days — filled with hugs, laughter, tears, sweat, songs, meetings, games and dancing — and we also had some really rough, dark times. India, which I love deeply, presented a harrowing series of trials from which I'm still reeling.
So while I anticipate an aggressive itinerary on this trip, I think it's going to be a very different kind of summer for me. We're starting out in Thailand and finishing in Cambodia, postponing my visit to India to a later date. I don't really lead large teams anymore; I tend to leave visits from partnering churches in the capable hands of their own leaders. I do, however, like to give potential partners' "vision trips" my personal attention. I also am eager to meet up with new partners on their first visit to the projects they support. So if you're following this blog, you'll get a chance to meet a whole host of people who haven't yet shown up in my pictures.
I'll be hosting business owners who are committing to one of our homes in Thailand, families visiting Cambodia for an introduction to the staff and the kids at the homes they're currently sponsoring. We'll welcome a number of donors as they see for the first time how their courageous leadership is changing the world for some of the world's most vulnerable kids. I'll be joined by a former pro football player who sold his Super Bowl ring a decade ago to help us provide a place for dozens of orphaned children to cal home. Along with hundreds of teens and young adults, we'll attend Asia's Hope Cambodia Youth Conference at our Battambang campus. And we'll probably kill a pig or two.
For the last few days, we'll meet up with a group from my home church, Central Vineyard. And then we'll come home in time to enjoy a bit of barbecue season stateside.
I hope that you'll follow along, and that share our stories with your friends and co-workers. In a world discouraged by divisive rhetoric around race, politics and even religion, your Facebook and Twitter feeds can probably use some encouragement. Pray for us, too. We need stamina and wisdom and resources to continually answer God's call with integrity and courage.
With any luck, I'll have some pictures to post soon. I'm hoping that at least some of those pics will feature noodles. I like noodles.