“Aww,” said Pak sadly. “I just saw a little girl who reminds me of Dan Dan.” “I suspect you’ll see a lot of that on this trip,” I said.
Less than an hour into our journey, we hadn’t left Port Columbus, and we certainly hadn’t yet passed from the melancholy of departure into the excitement of travel. But now, with one very short leg (toe, perhaps?) of our journey out of the way, as we sit waiting in the international departure terminal in Detroit, it’s starting to feel like we’re really on our way.
Airports are strange places. In some ways, they don’t even feel like real places at all. Here at gate A56, we’re clearly still in America: the signs are all comprehensible, the shopkeepers all speak relatively standard versions of English, and the fast food is still plentiful, mediocre and expensive. But the announcements are in Korean and Mandarin, not just in English. People of all different ages, shapes, colors and agendas rush by, each with as little claim to this city and this place as the next person.
We’re really in between two worlds. We’re on our way to Asia, but we’re not in Asia. We’re leaving our family, but we’re traveling across the globe for a joyful reunion with our brothers and sisters. We’ve left, but we haven’t arrived.
Such is life, though, isn’t it? We live in both the now and the not yet. We experience the kingdom of God every time we see a child rescued, but it’s abundantly clear that we haven’t passed fully into that reality — there are still 143 million orphans in the world today.
We spend months and years forging relationships that promise to save another 20 kids from exploitation, knowing well that pedophiles like Alexader Trofimov will probably rape three times as many children before we can manage to open the doors of another children’s home.
But we go on. Our tickets are paid for. Our bags are checked through to our destination. Our boarding pass is clearly marked — we know we’re going to get there. Delays, setbacks, misplaced luggage aside, there’s no going back.
I hope you’ll join us on the journey. It’s long, tiring and occasionally disorienting, but it’s a trip of a lifetime.