In the weeks leading up to our time in Cambodia, I had beautiful day dreams of lazy mornings with coffee refills, fresh homemade bread, book pages read, and a quieting of a soul that has been in a struggle. I looked forward to the slower pace of Asia, the benefit of a house helper to keep up on the never-ending dishes and laundry, the end of the to-do list that has plagued us for months, and being able to forget about our “stuff” as it sat in bags awaiting transport to our final destination.
But real life has a way of getting in the way and our first week in Cambodia hasn’t quite resembled those day dreams.
The trip itself went well. So well. I was in awe most of the way here thinking about how smoothly everything had gone. Katie — who had tested positive for influenza just days before we left — was doing much better. I prayed for a gracious check-in worker at the airport and we were blessed with an amazing woman who didn’t worry about the .5 pounds that some bags had in excess. The long 15 hour flight that I worried about went quickly and Zachary slept for nine straight hours in the airplane bassinet. When we arrived in Cambodia, the visas that we thought were going to cost $25 each turned out to just be $5 for the kids. There were no flight delays, the kids were happy, we met lots of people who had kind things to say about our family, and it was all a great experience.
Once we went to collect our bags, however, the uneventful trip was over. Two bags missing. One car seat unaccounted for. Our brand-new stroller, nowhere to be found.
As we were working with the lost luggage people (who wanted nothing more to pack up and go home since it was after midnight and we were on the last flight of the evening), I went outside to let our ride know that we had, in fact, arrived. The problem was, there was no ride. In fact, there was no one. There was one lonely taxi that no matter how much we wanted it to, was in no way capable of carrying eight people +
fifteen thirteen bags + eight carry ons + two one car seat. And even if we could magically shrink our crew and belongings, we didn’t even know where to go. We had no address. No phone number. No phone. And it was midnight in an Asian city of 2 million people. Needless to say, there was a lot of praying a few tears.
After giving and receiving all of the lost luggage information, the eight of us stepped outside into the oppressive heat and looked at the empty parking lot. We had to do something. Since Jason and I visited a few years ago, Jason had a vague idea of where the school was. If one of us could get there (while the other stayed at the abandoned airport with the bags and kids), we could ask the security guard to call the person in charge of picking us up and getting us to the home where we were staying. The problem is, who goes? Do I go by myself at midnight in a strange taxi in a strange city? I didn’t even have any idea how to get to the school. Or, do I stay and let Jason go, leaving me, a woman with six kids and 13 bags, sitting at an empty airport with a few random men who we couldn’t quite figure out their purpose in being there. With neither option sounding appealing, we decided that Jason would go. I would stay with the kids and the bags and the strange men and do a lot of praying for protection. For all of us.
As Jason started working with the taxi driver trying desperately to get an address of the school, I stripped Zachary down to a diaper so he wasn’t so sweaty. And just as I was working to get the kids settled in for hot and somewhat scary wait, we see long legs running toward us and we knew that our ride had finally arrived. Bless his heart. It was now 1 am and he was two hours late and felt awful. He was sleeping at the school, set his alarm, but slept through it. I have no doubt our prayers woke him up. We paid the taxi driver for his willingness to help our desperate situation (though not needed in the end) and we loaded into two more appropriately sized vehicles and drove the 15 minutes to the place we would call home for the next month.
It’s been a week now and although real life looks nothing like my day dreams, this life, the one I am living, is what He asks of me.
I wanted restful sleep, He is asking me to deal with hours in the middle of the night with a two-year old whose body can’t handle the jet lag.
I wanted time to read and scrap, He is asking me to do endless laundry and dishes that take so much longer in Asia due to the lack of conveniences like dishwashers and dryers. And the longed-for helper? Unable to come due to an accident.
I wanted to look forward to the easy schedule and travel back to Indonesia in a few weeks, He is asking me to deal with a flight change that will mean an overnight in Kuala Lumpur, an unexpected hotel expense, and figuring out how to deal with all of our bags in a taxi and at a hotel.
We have our plans. We have our dreams. We have our agendas. But then we have the real life that He has asked of us. He asks us to trust Him in the trials. Trust Him in the plans gone awry. Trust Him in the sickness, power outages, and financial pressure. This is what He asks of us.
But you know what? He also asks me to trust Him in the good things. The return of our two missing bags. The light on the circuit breaker that says we have power. The plates of fresh and wonderful fruit. The smiles of babies. The squeals of children spending their afternoons in the pool. The extra one-on-one time with the two smallest. The sweet notes and emails from friends left behind, friends I wasn’t sure would even really notice I was gone. Yes, this is what He asks of me.
He asks. What will our answer be?
Yes, Lord, yes.