Proverbs 19:21 (ESV)There is so much to write about my trip to Liberia. Yet I am finding it hard get everything out that has gone on inside me during my trip. I thought one way that might help is to chronicle my trip over 2-3 posts and see where that leads me.
21 Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.
Three of us from our church made the trip to Liberia. Pastor Jim, our head pastor, Charlie, an engineer to inspect a fence that was being built, and me. My role on this trip was to escort Moses back.
Moses and I had to take a different route than Pastor Jim and Charlie. We had to travel on Moses' return ticket route that would take us through Chicago and a 8 hour layover. The others had a more direct route with just a short hour layover in Frankfurt before Brussels. The plans were to meet up in Brussels and all fly on the same flight to Monrovia.
In Chicago, Moses and I took a train downtown to kill some time. I needed to buy an extra pair of pants for the trip so we found our way to Macy's. We were quite a pair walking around Macy's carrying backpacks and a small duffel bag. I'm sure there were plenty of security eyes following us around the store.
The trip downtown did manage to burn the layover time for us. For me, it was a lot of walking and riding in a crowded Chicago train and not a great site seeing adventure. To Moses it was a blast. He mentioned through out the trip how much fun he had on our excursion into Chicago. His joy in the trip made the layover worth it.
From Chicago we flew directly to Brussels to meet up with Pastor Jim and Charlie. It was a packed plane but we were able to settle in for a non-eventful flight. I had plenty of time to read the book I had with me, Don't Waste Your Life by John Piper.
Don't Waste Your Life is about living your life for the glory of God. There were some challenging chapters in this book as you can probably imagine. One of the more challenging topics was living for the glory of God during trials and testing of your faith. I was soon about to have the opportunity to live this challenge out.
In Brussels Moses and I found our connecting gate and started our wait for the others. Their flight was about 2 hours behind ours. Their flight landed on time at 10:30am. At 11:00am Moses and I started eagerly staring down the terminal corridor waiting for our friends.
Our flight from Brussels to Monrovia was scheduled to leave at 12:30pm. At noon, Moses and I started boarding our plane, with no Pastor Jim or Charlie in sight.
Here I was about to fly to Liberia with Moses but all by myself. It was obvious Pastor Jim and Charlie had missed a connection somewhere. I had no idea where and no way to find out. My cell phone did not have international access. As I got on the plane I prayed, "Lord, I have no idea what you have planned here but I glorify your name." This was a prayer of faith, not feelings. My feelings were more like, "Lord, what are you doing here? This is not what we had planned!"
I was not too concerned at this point. I figured Pastor Jim and Charlie had missed a connection and would be on the next flight down. What I did not realize at the time was that the Brussels to Monrovia flight is only every other day. I was about to get two whole days by myself in a Liberian orphanage where the only person I knew was Moses.
There was that thought again...God wants to show me something and he wants my undivided attention.
Things got a little dicey when we arrived in Liberia. I did not know the address or phone number for the orphanage. Moses did, and people from the church were at the airport waiting for us, however this did not help me as I sat in the customs office by myself. Customs officials aren't too keen when you arrive without any idea of where you are going to visit.
Fortunately, God was good, as always. The Customs officials eventually took pity on me and let me go. The prayer going through my head while I waited my fate was, "to God be the glory...wherever this leads". Again, it's not what I felt but it was what I prayed.
Once I made it out I found Moses and we found a bus load of orphans outside the airport ready to give Moses a hero's welcome. His friends were excited to have him home and excited about his new hand. It was a great welcoming.
It was about an hour drive from the airport to the orphanage. On the way we passed through streets that were so packed with people that traffic was often stopped trying to make it's way through the pedestrians. The folks I was with seemed nice enough but they were strangers nonetheless. Here I was thousands of miles from home, by myself, and no way to call home. It was quite an E.T. experience.
That night as I laid in a very nice guest bed, in an orphanage somewhere in Liberia, reality was creeping in on me. I had found out by now that the others would not be arriving for two more days. I'm by myself. Alone in Africa. I felt nauseous as the stress began to weigh in. "God, what are you doing?"