I stood graveside, listening to our interpreter translate the story of this village. An old man told the history of war and sacrifice. My heart beat faster as I learned that the armies of my forebearers had battled in this place. I suddenly felt very vulnerable. Defenseless. Fearful that people who looked like me had left a trail of violence and destruction. Despite this, I found the strength to quietly admit my heritage. I waited for the response.
In recent years two very close friends of mine received terminal cancer diagnoses that gave them, and me, an expectation of the approximate remaining number of their days. That knowledge gave each of us the opportunity to make more informed choices about how to walk through those remaining days.
Half a lifetime ago I worked closely with an Australian leader. He had a great accent, lived and told tremendous stories of ministry at the ends of the earth, and generally had a very different view of the world than the Americans he was leading. At some point he posted a map of the world oriented with north at the bottom, south at the top, and Australia featured prominently. It helped me understand that there are many ways to look at the world.
Thirty years ago I was floating in a dugout canoe on the Suriname River, along with a heavy load of the earliest portable equipment for showing the Jesus Film in a remote jungle village. I had flown my passenger, Joe, and the equipment into a nearby airstrip on one of my first flights as a missionary pilot in Suriname. After years of education, training, building experience, focus, and preparation I was finally doing what God had called me to do. I was thrilled!