Flatirons Men's Afghanistan Trip Day Two - Monday, April 23, 2012
So I fell asleep Sunday night glancing up, every now and then, at the arrowed decal on the hotel ceiling -- marking the direction toward Mecca for the Muslim devout. A nagging reminder that I'm not nearly as diligent or directed or interested in my prayer life to my Lord...Lord God Jehovah...as those praying to Allah. A sobering thought.
I was wide awake by 5:30AM Monday and met up with an even earlier riser: teammate Bart Lillie. Bart had only slept an hour and was waiting in the breakfast area for the rest of us. One by one, the rest of the team joined us. We ate breakfast together, then circled up in one of the rooms for a quick briefing on our trip from Dubai into Kabul. Bob Tunnell has gone above and beyond call as our team leader and patiently walked us through the customs entry papers. Then, we checked out and split for the airport.
Dubai was even more grand in the daylight with multiple gardens and fountains spread along the roadside on our way to the terminal. Still...and I know I wasn't alone in feeling this way...Dubai was already in my rear view mirror...and I was looking forward to (and anticipating) our arrival in Kabul. Again, the necessary safety stops at the airport went fine and after about a 90 minute wait we were standing at the gate waiting to board the plane. The varied collection of people boarding the Safi Airlines flight into Kabul was a bit of a surprise. First, their were more Westerners than I had expected...and lots of those were rough, chiseled-looking dudes who had the air of ex-military or "independent contractor" to them. It made me want to watch The Bourne Ultimatum...which I did.
I don't know who to thank, but I got the window seat on the Kabul flight. The view for most of the 2 1/2 hour flight was deeeessseeerrrt...desert and, what looked like, dry river beds. That was until we hit a nasty patch of turbulence (the near-roller coaster variety) and started to make our descent.
As we neared Kabul, the mountain ranges came into view -- massive, bright-white, snow capped peaks that resemble the Rockies...but are more like a rough-and-tumble second cousin. The closer we got to Kabul you could make out just how rugged these mountains are, but nestled in the valleys you can see lush, green pockets of trees and vegetation. I lucked out again and was the first to clear the first stage of customs at the Kabul International Airport where I was immediately met by our good friend and host. For obvious reasons I have to be discreet here, but lots of you know who I mean. It was so good to see our host's friendly face and great fun watching him "do his thing" -- getting us through the rest of customs and luggage retrieval without a single hitch.
The arrival in Kabul may have been smooth, but not the case for the ride to our accommodations for the week. Traffic in Kabul is CRAZY...but great fun! Our host is like the Dale Earnhart of Kabul traffic; negotiating the multi-laned, no signaled, chaotic frenzy called "The Daily Commute" like a NASCAR champ! I don't know how they do it. All I could think was, "What kind of Drivers' Ed must they have here?"
Once we arrived at our final destination, we were warmly greeted by the Ladies Flatirons team. I had to remind myself that I couldn't give my friends and co-workers Mary Plese and Karen Berge a hug. I hadn't seen them in two weeks, so a "fist bump" was going to have to suffice. The rest of the day and evening were spent exchanging stories between teams (which the ladies win by sheer volume alone) and hearing what God is doing here through our missions partner -- this tiny band of brave Jesus followers.
Needless to say, God is doing amazing things here and the guys and I are humbled and honored to hear...and look forward to seeing more of it...firsthand. The day was capped off with a traditional Afghan meal of flavored rice, seasoned meat balls, spinach, fresh salad and naan...and it was delicious!
Now, as I type this, laying on the floor, I can glance up at the ceiling of our home for the next week (sans Mecca marker), where the answered prayers of so many of you at Flatirons are evident in every corner...and where the unanswered prayers are held in God's hands...whose fingerprints we see everywhere. We all wait in anticipation for what God is going to reveal to us tomorrow. Until then.