Saturday, October 17 was a day completely consumed in travel. The plan was to make my way from Yangon, Myanmar to Colombo, Sri Lanka. The infamous carrier Malaysia Airlines on which I would be traveling cancelled the route for tickets I had already purchased. The replacement tickets changed my arrival time in Colombo by eight hours later, causing me to lose time in Sri Lanka.
About 12:35 p.m. local time in Yangon, I traveled by taxi the great sum of less than two kilometers from my hotel to the airport. As it turned out, I paid more for a 12 ounce can of Coke Zero in the airport than it cost for the taxi to get to the terminal. All formalities for my departure from Myanmar accomplished, I boarded my first of two planes at 3:45 p.m. With the help of gate personnel, though, I almost made a huge mistake. I thought it was early for my flight to board, and it was, but a young lady gathered up people around the gate and herded them into the queue or line for immediate boarding. Fortunately, the ticket-taker stopped me from getting on an airliner bound for Viet Nam!
Finally seated on the correct airplane later, it carted me to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia after a flight of approximately three hours, providing me my first visit to that airport and country. Modern mall-like amenities there were limited mostly to chocolate or booze. The two restaurants from which travelers could choose majored for the one in pastries and the other in rice dishes. I made no purchases in Kuala Lumpur before departing by air at 11:03 p.m. local time for Colombo. Somewhere around three hours later my plane landed in Sri Lanka at about twenty minutes to midnight.
Minor difficulties with electronic communication only briefly interrupted my retrieval and travel by taxi to the home of brother Harold and sister Lilani Thomas. Sister Thomas had commissioned a taxi driver to pick me up, and so she called him and asked him to pass his phone to me for voice recognition and confirmation that the driver was not bringing a stranger than expected man to her house. If I had had a sore throat, she might have had the taxi driver put me out along the road – where I might still be trying to find my way.
There is absolutely no one else on the planet who has the infectious and uplifting laugh of sister Lilani. I can do voice recognition, too! The Thomas’ are gracious hosts and friends in Christ.
It was about 2 a.m. by the time I showered and got into bed for the night. I had been unable to sleep well Thursday and Friday nights, but I had slept as best one can sitting upright in an airplane seat, sometimes feeling like a rider in a sardine can with wings. Still, I was able to go to sleep in the bed for what time was afforded before rising at 6:30 a.m. Colombo local time.
The Shrubbery Garden Church of Christ is a remarkable congregation from so many perspectives. Christians begin showing up 45 minutes before commencement of worship. Once worship begins, two songs, prayer and the Lord’s Supper use up a full hour on the clock. Next, the preacher is expected to preach for another hour! Since the church had been exploring a series on Jesus Christ, I preached my lesson “The Deity of Jesus Christ.” However, since the Shrubbery Garden church is comprised of English, Senegalese and Tamil speakers, a brother, a former Anglican priest, translated for me. Like back in the American southern states, me being a northerner, I nearly need a translator from English to English, too!
Following worship each Sunday morning, the church breaks for tea – but really for a full meal. Typically, a class of an hour or so follows that. Finally, when class is over and much time has passed, church leaders have to tell the many lingerers to “go home and come back Wednesday.” Brethren need to be ushered out the car gate, and it needs to be closed. The earnest desire to be with fellow Christians, arrive early and leave late, to have to be encouraged to leave is a devotion to God that we in American congregations would do well to develop.
Apparently at least on Sundays, it is the local custom to take a nap. I was all too ready to visit my bed once more, though only for an hour or so to keep from ruining the upcoming night’s rest. Supper is later here than any place in America – 8:30 p.m. However, I envision that the beef stew for which my mouth is watering will be well worth the wait. As I pen this, I am also anticipating my onward travel tomorrow to New Delhi, India. There and beyond throughout India I will teach and preach the Gospel in several locations over the next four weeks, Lord willing, of course. There is no place I would rather be than doing what I am doing, trying to encourage and edify brethren while at the same time attempting to glorify God. Anyway, I need to be busy for the Lord as much as possible because every idle moment right now is not my friend, but my enemy as I continue to try and come to terms with the loss of my Bonnie. Please pray for me for the sake of the Lord’s work in which I attempt to have a small part wherever I can.