This will be our last post as a result of our mission to Bangkok. The headline refers to both a poem by Kipling, and a literary term for drawing a meaning or conclusion at the end of a poem. I suppose it is too soon to deeply reflect upon what we did, whom we met, and what we saw, but here goes anyway.
I just reread what I wrote when we returned from our mission to Lithuania these five years ago, (Reflections on return). Much of what I said then would apply now – except for the part about how similar Lithuania was to any other Western country. Except for shopping centers, which are the same all over the world, not much in Thailand was like life and culture in the States. As you’ve been following our blog, you have noticed what I mean, and I won’t rehash here.
A mission, at least in our experience, is like a stage of life. You put down roots, establish relationships, get in the groove, so to speak, and then it’s over. This is very obvious to those of you who, as Bonnie and I, have moved frequently over the years. For those who’ve stayed put, however, think how many people – friends, family, neighbors – or institutions have left or changed beyond recognition. It is with a profound sense of loss that this takes place, and even though we were only at the Centre and our neighborhood for about five weeks, nevertheless bonds were formed.
Memories, however, last for a very long time. It is unlikely that we will ever see any of the folks we met again, at least not until “Earth’s last picture is painted”, but Bonnie and I are much the richer for having had the opportunity. On our first mission trip, to Jamaica in 1998, to an orphanage, a kid named Charles asked if I would ever forget him. I said no – and obviously haven’t. If you’ve ever considered a mission journey, take it. No matter what you may contribute to others, no matter the time, expense and often discomfort, you will be the gainer.
Although we should all bear in mind that day “When only the Master shall praise us, and only the Master shall blame . . “, in the meantime there are some wonderful experiences to be had, and some wonderful people to meet.