In Sri Lanka

by - January 25, 2014

Right now I am finally sitting still.  The breeze is a gift.  The ocean is about 100 yards to my left.  I have a Coke. I'm listening to 10,000 Reasons by Matt Redman, and taking some time to write about this week.  

This is the third time I've been to Sri Lanka now.  It's different every time.  The flight from Dallas to Dubai went well.  The first movie I watched was The Blue Brothers.  I laughed out loud when I saw it listed under the classics movie section, and then I laughed out loud through the whole movie.  I also watched The Little Mermaid and Wolverine.  The Dubai airport is not as intimidating now.  The familiar walk from the plane to the shuttle that takes us to our hotel feels familiar.  I've got the drill down at the hotel, and then back on the shuttle to the airport for our 2:45am flight into Colombo.  I have a co-worker with me this time.  It's her first time, so I get to be the ropes shower.  She is a newlywed. First time away from her hubby.  She's done great, but I'm pretty sure distance has made home even sweeter at the thought than when she left it. 

We landed in Colombo last Sunday morning (or Saturday evening in Dallas), and within 2 hours were at church.  I think we were walking Zombies.  Pastor asked us to say a word...and a word is about all I was able to mutter.   Neither of us had slept on the overnight plane ride.  Even though I assured her we would.  After church our hosts took us to lunch.  Chicken sandwich, fries and coke. 

Then we went to The Juliana Hotel.  "She's a real beaut, Clark." We took a 4 hour nap and then made ourselves get up so we would sleep that night.  We should have only taken a 2 hour nap.  At 3 am I was up for the day.  We got up.  Walked the streets of Colombo in search of coffee, and then headed out for our 6 hour drive up to Vavuniya.  It's a 70 mph 2 lane highway.  A don't-worry-about-what-lane-you-drive-in-pass-everyone-honk-slam-breaks-floor-it kind of drive.  We are fortunate our hosts are good drivers, and that if you close your can't see what's happening.  I kept my eyes closed a lot.  And Mumford and Sons playing in my ears.  (I knew it wouldn't be long before they made my blog again.)

That was Monday.  On Tuesday we began 4 straight days of training, in 2 cities, with multiple tea breaks, and many 1 hour sessions on counseling, the call to counsel in scripture, tools to counsel through our ministry, basic skills for counseling at their request, and first and foremost how it applies to our own lives.  I rearranged my spreadsheet quite a few times to make things work.  There were a few adventurous showers,  some interesting smells, some fascinating sights, 1 leaking air conditioner (directly over the bed), quite a bit of sweat, water, gatorade packets, swollen feet, mosquito bites, homemade Sri Lankan dinners (delicious), some pictures, some laughs, some notes, some insight for us to take back to Dallas, good friends, and 1 more 6 hour drive back to Colombo with 4 personal pan pizzas from Pizza Hut in Negombo, Sri Lanka.  By the time we got done yesterday... I was tired, and I'm sure our hosts and those who planned these events here were too.  It was a lot of work, but we are very pleased with the outcomes, and so thankful for how the ministries here have grown.  Partnering with them through HFTH is a great blessing.  They have faced war, and continue to struggle as the country rebuilds and redefines itself. The week before we got here there were horrible attacks on two christian churches by mobs led by 60 buddhist monks.  The churches were destroyed, but the Church here grows stronger. Many of them are coming together tomorrow for a day of prayer. 

We would have flown home today, but there were no flights out, so we have to wait until tomorrow afternoon to leave.  For these last couple of nights we booked a nicer than we expected hotel through at a much lower than expected rate.  When we first checked in there were probably 60 people in a tour group who had just arrived as well.  The man who checked us in, didn't even call us by name he just shouted out over everyone "Expedia room!  This way."  He never did call us by name. Only "Expedia room."  They are totally booked, and I think he wishes a little bit that we weren't here. But, we are enjoying it anyway.  This isn't the type of area where you get out and walk around, but this is the kind of place where it is nice to lay around, and after the last 7 days of travel and training, we are thankful for this forced day of rest.  We are right off the Indian Ocean.  We went out there after the conference at the Hope Center last night and watched the sunset.  I plan to see it again this evening.  

We definitely kind of stick out wherever we go.  My hair soaks in the humidity and becomes surprisingly...fullish.  One friend said I was like a lioness of Judah.  Ok.  I make it work. I still have a problem with repeating out loud interesting words or noises I hear.  One noise I was sure was a cow, was not.  When I repeated the noise, I learned it was man selling fish.  Ok.  One of our hosts picked us up in a rent car.  As we were preparing to get in,  his tucked in shirt kind of straightened out and we could see 1.4 million little spiders had infested his shirt at his belt line.  Panic. I dropped my backpack, unzipped it, reached in and felt for what I thought was my little packet of kleenex to have something to brush the horror movie off his back. Once I started swatting imminent death off of him I realized it was a feminine product that classy girls don't just yank out of their bags and start flashing around.  But, I had pulled one from my backpack and was now shewing spiders with it from the Pastor's back.  Ok.  With some bug spray Courtney brought with her, she and I went all Texas tough on his car seat where the spiders had come from.  Between the two of us we are part MacGyver and part Lucy.  Let's not talk about which part is which.  I think the world needs both.

One of my favorite things to do is take pictures. Many of my pictures are taken out the car window as we were in route to the next place.  I like how they turned out though, and they will help me remember the journey.   Here are some of my favorites.  As always, thanks for taking this journey with me through this blog.

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