We’ll call it ten and a half.


As I’m wrapping up my time in Indonesia and reading other people’s blogs about their end of term thoughts and feelings, I feel bad that I’m not more inspired to write about the close of this chapter in my life. I feel the need to acknowledge publicly and in writing that my time in Indonesia is rapidly coming to an end, but I’m afraid I don’t have anything very deep or very interesting to say about it.

Tomorrow I will leave on a seemingly endless series of flights, and approximately 40 hours later, I will arrive in Harrisburg, PA. Chances are I’ve already explained my travel schedule to you by now, because I just can’t get over how many flights I have to take to get from Papua to Seattle. Granted, if I didn’t need to do some MCC things in Salatiga and then in Akron, it wouldn’t nearly be so many, but the situation being what it is, I will have flown on 11 flights by the time I arrive at my final destination.

I’ve been hanging out in Java for a little over a week now, having taken four flights to get here: Jayapura to Timika to Makassar to Jakarta to Semarang. Tomorrow I’ll be traveling with my two SALT compadres from Semarang to Jakarta to Seoul to Dallas to Detroit to Harrisburg. Four days later I’ll get on a plane in Philadelphia and travel to Atlanta and then on to Seattle.

The only catch is that in Timika, I didn’t actually get off the plane. We just sat on the runway for a few minutes while people shuffled on and off the aircraft. So we’ll call it ten and a half flights. The last thing I want to do is mislead you. (OK, that was a lie, sorry. It is important to me to be accurate about my travel drama. Aside from that I can’t make any promises).

I was talking to my friend, Liz, about all this the other day and her response was pretty standard: “That’s unreal. Sitka doesn’t sound even a bit exotic right now.” I get that a lot. If you were wondering, there’s a direct flight from Seattle to Sitka every day.

I’m not sharing this story to make you feel bad about where you live. If you want to feel badly about something, feel sorry for me when you think about the lack of leg room, bathing opportunities and airplane food I am encountering over this two week period of my life. Better yet, feel sorry for my friends who will have to deal with my emotional breakdown resulting from my sincere belief that I will not live to see the end of the flight that inevitably kicks in around hour 7 of every long flight I’ve ever been on. I already called the middle seat so neither of them will feel left out or be able to get any sleep.

I suppose I’m just telling all this you so you can feel the weight of how very far away Papua is. I think I’m still in the early stages reflecting on this year. In some ways I just feel numb. Am I subconsciously keeping myself from really acknowledging how I feel? Probably, yes.

What I can tell you right now is that, 1) Papua will be extremely different when I go back. There is so much development going on, that by the time I get there again, my town will probably be unrecognizable in many ways. 2) I just have this feeling that I’ll never live there again. Sure, I’ll be able to go visit – if you save enough money you can visit just about anywhere – but it won’t be the same to just stop by someday. 3) I don’t even know what to do with any of that.

Then again, I have no idea what God has in store for me. I will do anything, live anywhere. As far as going back to the US at the present time, I have no idea where I will live and work. My life is spread before me like a blank canvas and the glorious thing is that I’m actually happy about it. I’m a planner through and through, but this year I decided to not worry about my future anymore. God has better plans for me than I have for myself. I’ll go where God sends me. I pray everyday that God will continue to guide me. Papua was an unexpected and wonderful surprise in my life, and I expect more surprises along the way as I discover where it is that God wants me to go, and what it is that God has in store for me.

And I always end my prayers with, “but please, please, please don’t send me to Mongolia or North Dakota. Anywhere but there, God. Anywhere but there.”

You saw me before I was born.

Every day of my life was recorded in your book.

Every moment was laid out

before a single day had passed.

Psalm 139:16

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