Saturday, November 16, 2013 - Dubai, UAE
"Your second trip into Afghanistan is always the hardest."
I have heard this over and over again as our 2013 Flatirons Men's Team has prepared for the trip to visit our partner in Kabul. I know these aren't empty words because the warnings have come from people I love and trust...people who have made multiple trips into this beautiful, exotic part of the world...and people who know firsthand what to expect.
So, I know this has to be true.
Even so, I don't know what really to do with this...or how to prepare for its inevitable reality. I guess it's going to be a hard trip. Period.
Still, it feels very much like the last trip I took here:
The sudden realization that I forgot something (at least THIS time it wasn't my underwear!)...
The multiple flights and connections...and the seemingly endless lines of customs and security...where I have quickly learned that humorless, bureaucratic, desk jockies are all the same whether they're in the good, old U.S. of A. or on foreign soil.
But the main thing that feels the most familiar about this trip to Afghanistan is that I am (once again) joined by another great group of guys from Flatirons Community Church...and partnered up to lead again with my good friend Bob Tunnell -- one of the kindest, most generous men I've ever come across.
I don't know why the second time around in Afghanistan is so hard on folks. I've heard it explained this way; it has to do with the eventual comparison with your first, life-altering trip here. One good friend told me, "In your second trip, you experience a whole new level of Afghanistan, one that was almost hidden your first go-around. The first time, you're taking everything in, but the second time, you're seeing smaller details...and it wrecks you."
This surprises me because I feel like my first trip here wrecked me. When I came home from Kabul a year and a half ago from our 2012 Men's Team trip, I was dazed...amazed...confused...in awe...and anxious to return.
Now, laying here in our hotel in Dubai...I am anxiously waiting to get on the plane for Kabul tomorrow to get "wrecked" again. I can't wait to re-connect with our friends in Afghanistan...to eat with them...to laugh together...to share...and to continue the hard work of building a bridge of relationship; a bridge between the hopeless...and the hopeful.
Whatever happens on this trip...on this team...and in Afghanistan over the next several days, I pray that God will bless it...use it...and wreck us all...for His glory.