Today we leave for the first all-Asia regional retreat to be held in these parts since before Covid. There is much excitement amongst those who have been on the field and remember the last one, and we are excited to get to meet people we’ve only heard by name, seen on Zoom, or communicated with through e-mail. Although it requires a long day of travel for us due to the ongoing shuffles by airlines resuming post-Covid operations, we’re looking forward to it!
This gathering is not just for workers, but for their families as well. That means the kids and Gena get to connect with other kids and spouses on the field. Alec has been working with Caleb Ferry to try and launch a regular get together online for gaming amongst teens on the field and hopefully being able to meet face-to-face will be an assist to that. Likewise it will be good for Gena to meet other spouses on the field. Though everyone builds community in their setting to some extent, you can never know too many people on this side of the world who share a common culture and faith!
And speaking of growing community…
Our first flight is from Medan to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Medan is a wonderful city to live in but can be difficult to arrange international flights from, depending on your destination. So typically I/we fly first to Kuala Lumpur and then on from there. Today we sat next to a gentleman who was clearly excited to practice his English. We got to talking and learned that we not only share a language skill (to differing degrees in Bahasa Indonesia and English!), we also share faith in Jesus. There’s lots else we’d like to share but we prefer to be circumspect in such disclosures, and simply ask that you keep him in prayer as he journeys back to the island he works on after a time with family during Christmas and New Year celebrations.
Requirements have changed a lot since we deployed to the field in February. The last of Indonesia’s Covid-related mandates were rescinded as of January 1. Though caution is still encouraged (and many people are still nervous), we no longer are required to mask indoors or in airports or on flights. It may take a little time to get used to it again, but it’s a nice feeling!
We spent eight hours in the Kuala Lumpur airport. As I get used to the differences in booking trips over here, this trip requires us to treat each leg of our journey as though it were isolated from all the others. So we need to go through immigration and customs here in KL, pick up our checked bags, and then re-enter immigration and customs after checking in for our next flight. A slight hassle but when you have eight hours to kill, anything is helpful.
Sunset was beautiful through the airport windows as we finished dinner. We’re in Terminal 1 at this point and watching the sun set over Terminal 2, which is where we end up departing from.
We are greeted at the airport by my very excited colleague and seminary classmate, JP. He’s also exhausted from running back and forth to the airport to greet all of the 60+ folks arriving from this event. It’s warm still in Phnom Penh, with a climate similar to Medan’s despite being further north. But it’s cooler in the evening than it is in Medan. Although we’re tired from the day of traveling we’re looking forward to the days ahead!