"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'"
May 21, 2014
Jon and I have been privileged to take a few wonderful trips. We have had opportunities that we never imagined. Traveling to Singapore and Germany for Jon's work was something we never dreamed of doing. They were both fun experiences and something we will never forget.
When we first found out that Jon was going to Singapore for a three week job, we really didn't even know where it was located or anything about it. I looked online to find out information about the country, what there was to see and do, and what the culture was like.... and if it was safe. We talked to a couple people who had been there and they gave us some helpful information. Neither of us had traveled internationally, so really had no idea what to expect. It was very much an adventure for the two of us!
Before we could arrive at our destination and begin taking in the sights, there was a lot of preparation that went into getting there. We had to both get passports. I had to try and figure out what clothing to pack; and Jon had to figure out what tools and supplies he'd need to take with him for the job. Hotel and flight reservations had to be made. Finally, the day arrived for us to leave. We were excited!
But then came the long, long journey! I think it was around 30-plus hours from the time we left our house until we checked into our hotel. We flew from Tulsa to Houston; from Houston to San Francisco; from San Francisco to Seoul, South Korea: then finally from Seoul to Singapore. I think the longest leg of the trip was a 12-13 hour flight. That is a LONG time to be on one airplane! And most of that flight time was over the ocean so you pray that the plane has enough fuel and doesn't encounter any problems! That particular flight was completely booked, so we are on a huge jet with all the seats full, and really didn't want to get up and use the bathroom any more often than necessary. I was in the middle seat between Jon and a young man from Vietnam. I dozed off and on and watched movies and wriggled.....
We got off in Seoul, but had to stay in a restricted area since we were on an international flight. Jon and I walked around as much as possible during that time, because we had another six-plus hours left until we reached our destination. When we got back on the plane, the young man from Vietnam was seated beside us again. This particular flight wasn't completely booked and there were empty seats. The stewardesses announced that we could spread out to have more room and use up the empty seats. There was an empty row of three seats in front of us, and I told the young man that they had said we could use those seats -- so would he like to move up there to have more room. My thinking was; that way Jon and I could lean against one another and have more room and stretch out. But he refused to move. Therefore, I told Jon that I was going to move up there. The stewardess gave me a pillow and blanket, I laid down across those three seats, and snoozed almost the entire six hour flight.
Not only was our travel time close to thirty total hours, but we crossed thirteen time zones. So the process of getting to our destination was neither quick nor easy.
We had a great experience and got to see and do some really cool things. They have one of the top rated zoos in the world, and it was amazing! We went to an orchid garden with every type of color and variety of orchid imaginable, which was gorgeous. We went to an island where the southernmost point of Asia is located. We rode the Singapore Flyer (like a huge enclosed ferris wheel) and from the top we could see the entire island. Singapore is a fairly small island, and we basically got to do everything we wanted to do while there.
When we went to Germany, it wasn't nearly as tiring. The longest flight was only about eight hours and we only had to cross seven time zones. Even though Singapore was fun and interesting, Germany was by far our favorite trip. The old buildings and history was amazing. Our hotel was just across the street from the old town center. There was a church that was built in the 1200's where they still hold services. A trumpeter goes to the church tower twice a day and plays a hymn. Celle was one of the few German towns that was unharmed during WWII so has a lot of the half-timbered houses that are hundreds of years old. There was a farmers market twice a week in the streets of the old town. We saw a lot of women riding bicycles with baskets on front. We got to ride the train and go see a castle. It was absolutely an experience that is unforgettable, and we would love to go back again at some point.
When preparing for our trip to Germany, I better knew how to pack for international travel. We knew more what to expect as far as flights and layovers and going through customs. Even though it was a different country, we felt more comfortable. The worse part when making preparations for that particular trip was that plans kept changing. The first time we were scheduled to leave, we found out the morning we were to take off that the trip had been postponed. This happened three times before we finally actually went. But once we arrived, all the delays and preparation was well worth it!
In John 14:2-4 Jesus says, "In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know."
Thomas' response was, "Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?"
Jesus told him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."
When Jesus ascended back to heaven, His promise was that He was going to prepare a place for us so that we could one day be with Him for all eternity. We can't find the way there on our own, but only through Jesus can we reach our destination.
Right now, we are preparing ourselves for this journey. We don't know when we'll be going, how we'll be getting there, or what the final leg of the trip will be like. But we are in constant preparation for when Jesus will come to receive us to Himself.
In Matthew 25:1-13 we read the parable of the ten virgins; five were wise and five were foolish. The foolish took their lamps with no oil when they went to meet the bridegroom. The wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. While the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept. When the midnight cry was given, "The bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!," the foolish said to the wise, "Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out." The wise told them no, because then they wouldn't have enough for their own lamps. The foolish left to go buy oil, and while they were gone, the bridegroom came. Those who were there waiting and ready went in with him to the wedding. When the other virgins came back, they cried for the door to the wedding to be opened to them, but it was too late and they couldn't enter in.
We can't prepare to go to heaven after the bridegroom (Jesus) returns for those who love Him. By the time your prayer is prayed, it will be too late. But the preparation must be done now.
How foolish would it have been when Jon and I were traveling internationally to wait until the day of the trip to start making our flight and hotel reservations and start packing? If Jon had been told that he was supposed to begin work on a particular day and we waited until that day to start making plans, it would have been impossible for him to get there on time. But there is a certain amount of preparation and planning that has to be done ahead of time. Not only do we have to make reservations and pack our clothes, but we have to make arrangements prior to leaving home. I have to make sure that bills are paid, our mail is held by the post office or picked up by a family member, arrange for someone to take care of our dog, etc. It requires a lot of time and effort, so that we can be prepared and thoroughly enjoy our destination upon arrival.
It's the same spiritually. We can't live our life however we please, assuming that we can do whatever we want without any thought of eternity. None of us know which will occur first; death or Jesus returning. We have no idea when either could take place. None of us are promised tomorrow. We are also told that Jesus will return in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye. It could happen at any time. How are you making preparations? If you've given no thought of preparing for eternity, today is the time to do so!
When our trip to Germany was delayed, we kept or bags packed. We knew it was coming soon, but just not exactly when. We could have unpacked, and then repacked when the trip was rescheduled.
The trip to Singapore went through similar delays, but we had more notice. And that same customer has sent me to an oil rig several times, with schedule changes almost every time. I've ended up keeping a bag of tools packed all the time, and a case for more supplies for them, too. But I usually don't keep clothes packed.
When I get the call to travel, I always have a little time to prepare. When the trumpet is sounded, we won't have that luxury. So, what does it mean to 'keep our bags packed'? We need to keep Jesus in our hearts and in our lives.
Chicken Breast, chopped
Red Grapes, cut in half
Boil chicken breast; cool, debone, and chop. Add Hellmann's mayonnaise (the real stuff tastes so much better!), chopped celery, and grapes that have been cut in half. Mix until good consistency. Serve on croissants as a sandwich.
*** Instead of cooking and deboning chicken breast, you can also buy a rotisserie chicken and debone it and use.
When Jon and I were planning our trip to Singapore, we were excited and telling everyone about our opportunity for travel. A nephew and his wife had heard our plans and knew that we were overly enthusiastic about our trip. He asked her, "Where is Singapore, anyway?" She answered, "I don't know. I think maybe it's in Florida!" They looked it up online and realize they were way off!! (In case you don't know, it's in Asia.)
Love is not only something you feel. It's something you do. - David Wilkerson
We love you!
Loretta & Jon