Thursday, May 8, 2008
Arrived at Last!
On Monday, Dad and I arrived at the Lincoln Airport at 11:00 am (CDT) and I couldn't check in for my flright. It turns out that, even though we had tried to book my tickets for Monday, they were booked for Tuesday. So, I laughed about that to myself a little, that of course, after the four months that I've had, I would not be able to fly out on the day that I thought. I guess those who don't read really are not any better off than those who can't (Mark Twain-ism). So, we went home and I slept all afternoon and then ran 6 miles in the evening in an attempt to get really worn out so that I would be able to sleep that night.
I woke up early on Tuesday morning to try it again. This time once we got to Lincoln, I was successful at checking in to the airline. I handed off my two checked bags to TSA and went to sit and rest until Mom showed up with lunch. Dad and I watched the TSA man go through all of my carefully packed luggage very meticulously. It took him what seemed like 30 minutes to finish making sure that I didn't have any dangerous materials in my luggage. We couldn't figure out what all of that was about until after I decided to go through security myself to get on my plane.
When I showed the security guard my boarding pass and ID, I was informed that I was the airline equivalent of the winning 100th customer, and so I was deemed eligible for a free extensive security screening. So I got patted down and all of my carry-on stuff was systematically unpacked and then haphazardly repacked before my very eyes. This seemed to me to be yet another proof that Satan is hostile to the mission work that God has planned for me to do. Usually this special treatment by TSA would be the kind of thing that would really bother me, but it didn't.
The plane from Lincoln took off at 12:53, ten minutes early. The man behind me initiated conversation with me by asking what time we were supposed to have taken off. From there we discussed what each was traveling to Denver for, and when I mentioned that I was going for 15 months to the Czech Republic for mission work, his ears perked up. I thought that was a good thing at first, but I discovered that this was another attempt by the devil to derail my mission work. The man asked my age after expressing my excitement for doing mission work and spreading the gospel to those who have never heard it. I told him, and he said that I sounded a lot like him when HE was 23. I was still thinking this was a good thing. However, for the rest of the hour-long flight, he proceeded to explain to me all of the academic reasons he had for gradually becoming an atheist. He told me that he had been curious to know more about the history of the Church and of Palestine at the time of Christ, and that through his studies, he had learned that Jesus had never existed and that the men we credit with writing the Gospels did not write them, that everything found in the Gospels was heresay, that Paul never spoke of Christ in purely physical, but rather metaphysical terms, and therefore St. Paul didn't even believe that Christ was a real person, but rather an ideal for humans to strive to be more like... This man spent the entire trip to Denver trying to derail me in my work. The worst part of it for me was that I found it very difficult to contradict him, because I have not read as widely as him and I am not nearly as vociferous of a speaker as he was.
When the flight was almost over, I asked for his name and told him that I would add him to my prayer list. This was a big mistake. He told me that that offer was as offensive as if I had told a fat person that I would try to help them lose weight (without their invitation to help).
This conversation weighed very heavily on me for hours into my second flight, from Denver to Munich. While I was struggling to fall asleep, I listened to my iPod. I happened to decide to listen to the Lutheran Hour podcast, because in the past Pastor Klaus' voice has put me to sleep. It just so happened that at the end of the second message that I listened to, in my futile attempts to sleep, was a question and answer session about the "Historical Jesus" and some of the arguments that people have come up with recently to try to refute that Jesus even existed. It was such a blessing from God to hear that, because the three main things that Pastor Klaus discussed were exactly what I had on my mind from my discussion with the atheist man. I began to cry a little bit because that was not the first time that day that God had provided for me just when I needed it. Nor would it be the last.
Suffice it to say that the first day of my missionary experience was an incredible one in which many challenges arose that allowed me to trust God for His provision and be amazed when He showed up.
There is so much more to write, but I will have to save it for later. I am going to be spending some time with Sarka Klus, the pastor's wife, this afternoon and having a tour around town. I can't wait. I'll also add a picture or two to this post when I get back!