Thursday, August 30, 2012

Finally Made It!

Dili: Getting off the plane in Dili was like being in a movie. They opened the door of the plane, I stepped outside, went down the stairs, and then walked across the pavement to the customs/security/immigration station. I’ve never gotten off of a commercial flight like that, and it was really neat. I was really nervous going through immigration because there were some parts of my paper work that I had left blank because I just didn’t know what to put there (like my address in Dili, I still don’t know what it is! Lol). Praise the Lord though, I kept praying and things went really smoothly. I got a visa, found my luggage, went through security, and was warmly welcomed by the Grilo family. Miguel welcomed me in the traditional Timorese way by putting a hand woven stole around my neck (like getting a lei in Hawaii).
After meeting at the airport we went immediately to the house. I couldn’t have asked for better. My room here is almost twice the size of my room at home, I have a queen size bed, my own bathroom, and it is all so beautiful. I’m going to learn how to put pictures on here so that I can show you. The ceilings are high and the doors are all wooden and very tall.  The floors are tile, and there is a little courtyard and a very nice in-ground pool.
First I unpacked. Then we ate a very nice meal (with your favorite kind of mushrooms daddy! Lol), I took a shower, and then I took a nap. I didn’t think I would be able to sleep, but the next thing I knew, Ruth was waking me up and it was 8:00pm - time for her friend’s birthday party (they gave me the option of not going, but I couldn’t resist the adventure, and I want to be exposed to as much Portuguese as possible).
The restaurant was gorgeous. Candle light, Lebanese and Thai food, and lovely flowers and decorations: all right on the beach. I could even see the stars and the moon (hey livie, I saw the moon, the moon saw me;) and the sound of the waves was so nice. I could write more, but it is 11:30pm over here(7:30 am at home).  So, Buena noite!


Japan: In Japan, I was a little bit unsure of myself going through security and finding my gate, but the Lord led me exactly where I needed to go, and even delayed my flight so that I had time to Skype my family while I waited at the gate. I also got to watch the sunset, and that was really beautiful.

From Japan to Singapore: Immediately when I sat down for the flight to Singapore, I felt exhausted. I don’t know if that was what made the difference, but my second plane was so much more comfortable than my first one. I had been perfectly content with my first flight, but this one was lovely. The seats were bigger and cushier, they reclined more, I had more leg room. There was more than enough room for me to curl my legs up in my seat and fall asleep. It was torture to wait for takeoff, but I couldn’t recline my seat until we reached a certain altitude.  When we were finally high enough, they wouldn’t turn the lights off. For the first couple hours of the flight they went up and down the aisles again, offering me food and jewelry and lotion, filling my water bottle, and making all sorts of announcements. They brought me another Asian vegetarian meal, and this one was similar to the last, except that the hot dish was actually good. It had rice and lentils and greens and mushrooms ( I thought of you, Daddy, and of Gina, lol). I ate even less of this one than of the last one though, because I just wasn’t hungry.
Another thing about my second flight was the TV. I turned mine off, but no one around me seemed to be tired. Screens flashed and flickered the whole time, and it was highly annoying, but I did manage to sleep a lot.
Landing in Singapore was quite lovely. It was dark (around midnight), but I couldn’t see the stars because of the clouds. Then I thought I saw some stars through a break in the clouds, but the stars were below me. Were they reflections? As we dropped lower (which was also interesting, we were descending and I had not seen any land yet), I could see the reflection of the lights in the water. They were little boats. Hundreds of them dotted the calm sea, some small and white, others larger and nearly orange. The effect was ethereal. The sky and sea blended into almost the same color, and the “stars” floated peacefully beneath me, seemingly unaware of anything outside their circles of light. 

Timor: My Newest Adventure

Sorry it has been so long. These next few posts were written a few days ago but I couldn't post them until now. Most of them were written while I was sitting in the Singapore airport for about eight hours.

I have promised many of you that I would keep a blog of my travels and adventures, and yet as my friends read this, some of you are thinking to yourselves, “Travels? What travels, what adventures?” I would have asked the same questions if someone had mentioned this journey to me a few months ago, but now as I sit in an airport on the other side of the world, this adventure is very much a reality. This has been a rather quick change of plans, but the Lord seems to enjoy surprising me.
 I’m on my way to home-school a little boy on the island of Timor for ten months. He and his family are Seventh-day Adventist, Portuguese, and very nice. Allie Wahlman worked for them last year and had a great experience, and now I’m continuing what she started.  I’ll be using the Griggs home-school program, and that is a pretty comprehensive overview of what I know about this mission.
I call it a mission because I know I’ve been called. New things are always appealing to me, but leaving everything that I know and committing to something I’ve never tried is a bit of a stretch for me. Especially because I already had plans for this year - I was going to go to Weimar. The Lord seems to like teaching me to trust Him down to the last minute though, and He certainly caught me by surprise this time. Not long before grad at FA, my friend, Ceri, told me about this position and asked if I was interested.  I honestly didn’t think it would work out, but I said I would look into it. Like I said, I enjoy new things.
From that day until now the Lord has been leading me. I fasted and prayed, and He listened to me. I asked for a sign, and He gave me one that was almost too clear to believe and certainly too clear to ignore. He worked out the details while I watched Him in awe, and even now, as I’m traveling by myself, His care and calling give me peace. I know that this is the mission that the Lord has for me right now.
And right now I’m almost there. May the Lord empty me, fill me with Himself, and use me to glorify His name.  

My First Solo Flight

Somewhere over the Pacific: I’m sort of in a daze right now, so it’s hard to remember what my first flight was like, but I do know that it really wasn’t that bad. The whole time both my seat partner and I were in and out of consciousness, and I ended up quite rested by the time I got to Japan (despite the fact that all 10 hrs of the flight were spent in broad daylight). When I wasn’t sleeping, the flight attendants were filling my water bottle and giving me funny food. My mom ordered me an Asian vegetarian meal, and I guess this was Asian, but I think it was more like American-Asian. There was bread and butter (since when is that Asian?) some sort of cucumber salad, a couple pieces of fruit, some over seasoned soggy tofu, oily noodles, and oily fried veggies. I ate some of it. Then, just a couple hours later, they brought me the whole thing again, except that this time the veggies were cold and inside the bread (have you ever heard of a cold, stir-fried veggie sandwich?). Hmmm…mom’s GF granola bars were quite tasty and homey. Thanks, Mom! :)
My seat partner was a very nice Japanese lady, probably ten years older than me, although we got along quite fine and I don’t think she had any clue how old I really am (note: when you travel by yourself, people think you’re older than you are and that you just have really young looking skin, just happen to be one of those lucky people that always has a baby face, etc. at least in my experience, lol). We talked about Several different things, she gave me here email and invited me to visit her the next time I come to Japan, and we parted ways. 

It All Started in Seattle...

Here come some of my experiences on my way to Dili.

Seattle:  So, I thought I knew what I was doing. I got to my gate without a problem, hooked up to the wifi, and tried sending my mom an email from my new Samsung Galaxy. I even filled up my water bottle at a nearby fountain. I thought that it was odd that another flight was boarding at my gate so close to when my flight was supposed to board, but I shrugged off my suspicions and kept figuring out my phone. Someone said something over the speaker system about two passengers who were about to miss their flight and have their bags taken off their plane. I felt bad for them, thankful that I still had another thirty minutes till I was supposed to board. “Katly Atua, Katly Antuna? This is the final boarding call for your flight. Katly Antuna.” Adrenalin started pumping through my veins. That was my name they were calling! Grabbing my laptop, phone, violin, and other various things that I had taken out I rushed over to the desk by my gate. The lady there quickly explained that what I thought was boarding time was actually departure time! Praise the Lord for getting me on my first flight for this incredibly long and intimidating journey to the other side of the world. 

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Bindweed and gophers

The Lord blessed me with another lesson from the garden this afternoon. I was weeding again, and if weeds were people, the garden paths would've been covered in blood. Firmly planted wherever it could find a bare spot of ground was a very tenacious intruder: bindweed. With a hand rake and my own bare hands I attacked the creeping plants. Soon vines, leaves, and other plant parts were flying over my shoulder and freshly tilled ground was appearing where tangled weeds had been. Unfortunately, this isn't the first time that I've had to go to battle in my own garden. As soon as I turn my back the remnants of roots that I have missed start to grow and spread all over again.
While I was thinking and weeding, I started wishing that these weeds would be more like the gophers that recently moved into our neighborhood. My dad has taken up the practice of bringing his gun out with him when he works outside. After a while curious little critters start peeking out of their holes and scampering around. Needles to say, they don't scamper around very long. When my dad is done with his target practice he picks up the rodents by the tail and deposits their remains in the entrances of their holes (I know, this is really morbid, but I got a great object lesson from it, so just wait). Then he puts his gun away and that is that. There are that many less gophers and that many less gopher holes, because a gopher is not about to use a tunnel that has another gopher's corpse in it (yuck!). So I was thinking, if only the bindweed wouldn't come up again where I killed it the first time. If it would just learn its lesson and go somewhere safer, after a while I would be done with it. But bindweed is courageous (or maybe brainless...), and it doesn't let the dangers of the past keep it from growing in the future. When it is kicked out, it comes back with more persistence. When it is cut down, it grows with more vigor. When it is poisoned, it renews itself. This made me think of a verse.
"We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body." - 2 Corinthians 4:8-10
I don't want to be persistent in evil like the bindweed, but I do want to let the memory of my Lord's sufferings give me endurance to do what is right even when persecuted. Unlike the gophers that are so easily scared away from their homes, I want to claim more territory for Christ and expand His kingdom like the tenacious bindweed.
In just a couple weeks I'll be heading overseas to spend a year as a student missionary, and I know that there will be plenty of opportunities for perseverance in the face of difficulty while I'm there, but I can be persistent at home too. When I don't get upset with my sister, when I do my household duties without being told, when I study and practice music diligently, I'm practicing perseverance in what is right. It is faithfulness in the little everyday things that prepares me for the big things ahead. After all, "life is chiefly made up, not of great sacrifices and achievements, but of little things" (from somewhere in Help in Daily Living by E.G. White). I'm nowhere near capable of the tasks that the Lord has for me in the future, and the devil will be trying to trip me up all along the way, but I do know that Jesus is stronger than the devil, and that in each day He gives me ways to train for the trials ahead. May I see each burden as another way to make my spiritual muscles stronger, and may I see each opportunity for doubt as an opportunity to strengthen my faith. May I grow like a bindweed.