I tried to FT you. It is time for me to take my last exam.Immediately my life downshifted to ultra slow motion. It felt as though my eyelids were taking seconds to blink just one time. Inhaling oxygen seems to take a full minute and a second minute to exhale.
This was the beginning of my first 48 hours. There is no way that I could have ever imagined the unbelievable events those tedious hours contained.
Let me reflect on some of them now.
It all started with that text. I closed out the text and attempted to FaceTime my friend of over 40 years. He has loved me like few have ever loved me in the 40 plus years we have been friends. And he would have to be the one to confirm my suspicion.
He said "yes, you are right." He endorsed my suspicion that he is at the end of his life here on this earth. He would understand if I couldn't make it, but he would love to see me one last time and say goodbye. He knew there was a LOT going on in my life with the One Step Course in full swing. But, we agreed that it would be better to have time together, one last time, while he was still here. Of course I wanted Pam to accompany me, but with 15 people living together in our house and a steady daily responsibility for all of them, someone had to stay. It was easy for us to agree I should go. It was not easy to go without her.
The effort to book a ticket began.
|The One Steppers cleaned while I prepared to leave them|
Then an agent from Missionary Airfare Services emailed me with a price of around $1,734. At least a friend from Oklahoma told me the lady emailed me. I never received the email. And that was just the beginning. When I sent her an email of all the particulars, including the credit card number and a copy of my passport ... SHE never received my email! Eventually I made an international call late at night on my phone and purchased the ticket ... as far as I knew. I never received the email with confirmation and itinerary! Neither of us could figure that out. I used my last few minutes of airtime to ask her to send that information the following morning since the flight left in less than 24 hours.
While the One Step cleaned the compound Wednesday morning, I packed. The past 5 weeks of life together with these amazing young men and women has exceeded any imagination about how productive this new effort could be. It is an intense experience, but worth all the effort and demands to help them discover genuine identity, purpose, and vision. We gathered for a photo moments before Pam and I set off for the airport in Entebbe, Uganda.
|My love for the One Step Team grows daily|
Pam dropped me at the airport so that she and our driver could avoid arriving late at night in Jinja. I sat with my bags, along with other early arriving passengers, as we waited to be allowed inside the airport to check in for our KLM flight to Amsterdam. Almost immediately the power went off and I sat in darkness wondering if I would have a ticket waiting for me inside at the counter. Minutes later the power came back, I was allowed inside and like a blur I was given boarding passes, processed through immigration, and waiting for Gate 4 to open. A text came across my phone. It was Pam and the message was confusing.
"I am so mad! Some guy (thief) has just grabbed my phone from my hands through the open window!" I started to request the details on my phone when I thought, "Wait! Then who is texting me on her phone right now."
There are many situations where an actual phone call is superior to texting. I called the driver on his phone. He gave it to Pam and she explained. The vehicle had come to a stop because of traffic soon after leaving the airport. Both front windows were down. Before she realized what had happened, a hand reached through her open window. She grabbed her phone tightly by instinct and the thief had to wrestle it from her hands. She jumped out of her vehicle and ran after him. He had crossed the divided highway and was with a group of thugs on the opposite side of the four lane. As she attempted to climb over the concrete barrier (I can only imagine that!), Meddie shouted at her, "Mama Pam! Don't go over there. They will box you."
"I WANT MY PHONE!" Pam shouted at the group of male twenty somethings. One of the bigger guy shouted back that they would exchange the phone for money. Pam retreated to the vehicle and quietly asked Meddie to retrieve a twenty thousand Ugandan note ($6) from her purse. She then told them, "you give me my phone and I will give you this money." Meddie took the money from her and after an argument about who would give the other what first, he gave it to the big guy and the actual thief gave Pam her iPhone. Then one of the thugs took a swing at Meddie, but he ducked the punch and retreated to the vehicle with Pam. I don't want to think about how that incident could have turned out radically different.
|With Dr. Charles|
at Starbucks in Amsterdam
Wow. I responded, "The same question you should ask your self at 30. Or 40. And that I am asking now as I am approaching 70. Who am I and where can I find my part in God's big story of redemption?"
|The reason I am here back in Oregon|
I opted for the Cobb salad with chicken that was being served soon after take off. I've been avoiding carbohydrates for the past 4 months and this seemed perfect. But, soon after lunch my stomach was having cramps and I was excusing myself past the lady seated on the aisle to look for the toilet. That was just the beginning. I spent more time between those four toilets and in them then I did in that comfort seat. My stomach keep running until I arrived and left Portland International Airport!
|Rare things are valuable things|
This is a rare friendship I have enjoyed with Nate!
As soon as I laid my eyes on Nate and grabbed his hand I was confident I was in the right place, at the right time, doing the right thing. With Lainy, we decided to have a living memorial service next week, for and with Nate, with a very small group, to celebrate his life and the glory of God that it has resulted in. This is a summary of the First 48 Hours of this incredible experience to be a part of the final days of a really close friend. I wonder how they will unfold.