Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Admiration in Purest Form

Today I finished reading through the last of the newsletters on hand, which covered the years 1995 to 2000; and I am now looking over even earlier newsletters from when we moved back from Singapore the first time. It's rather odd working with such material as it gives me glimpses of unremembered days in my own life. I come across such passages as this:

"Since we left Singapore and came back to Sweden we have been able to settle down and get things going again. The children are fine, enjoying life in Sweden, but Sanna (our daughter) sometimes asks when we are going back to Singapore. She wants to go to 'Big Splash' or 'Bedok Swimming Complex.'"

 The most fascinating entries, however, have been the letters written by my twenty-two-year-old father during his mission trips in the late seventies. They are simple newsletters, single, typewritten sheets sheets that my father took the time to punch out on a basic typewriter. My father was younger that I am now when he wrote these, and he tells of travels I cannot even imagine.

With Operation Mobilization, he rode--ate, slept, talked, read books--in the back of a truck for four weeks as his team drove from Belgium to India, traveling through Germany, Austria, Yugoslavia, Greece, Turkey (sidling past Mr. Ararat), Iran (avoiding Tehran because of political turmoil), Afghanistan, and Pakistan (they just made it through the Kyber pass on the border between Aghanistan and Pakistan--after four o'clock the pass was closed down because the military could not guarantee safe passage in the evenings through a territory ruled by the local tribe, the Pashtuns). He threw himself head-first into a hot, chaotic world completely unlike his own, and he fell in love with it, despite his bout of dysentery in Jaipur. 

"When we drove through the city we were jostled along with horse- and ox-carts, cows and pigs, chickens that roamed around freely. The streets were teeming with people. There was the butcher's table right next to the street dentist, there sat the peanut seller on the sidewalk together with the banana man, the orange seller, etc. There, some blankets and pots that made a home for someone on the side of the road. Tire services almost in the lap of those who ate in the street restaurant. The rich, the beggars, the lame, the crippled, and people, people everywhere."
- Lahore, 1978

I find my own heart responding to my father's words, though I am thirty-three years removed from their writing. In a letter dated from New Year's Eve 1978, he expresses a longing for something other than his current circumstances, a thought which I understand intimately:

"In all honesty, I must admit that over these last few days I have been missing home quite a bit. Therefore, it is good to know that the Lord wants me here, even though right now my feelings tell me otherwise. For the Lord has several times shown me that I must put my trust in him. Even if I do not understand now (Proverbs 20, 24, 16, 9), He will guide me and lead me in his paths, and I shall later understand."

  There are more stories, but I'll save them for the book.

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