It seems that events lately have been bringing back many memories of Anna. Saying that I run the risk of giving the impression that at other times the memories are not there. That is not the case. But it seems that in certain seasons, at certain events, meeting certain people, that the memories become a bit more intense. More tangible. So it has been the last few months.
This past summer Samuel and I made a trip with his scout troop to New Mexico to backpack in the Philmont Scout Ranch. It was an incredible 12 days. It was about the most difficulty thing I have done physically.
While we were there, we had long days of hiking. Early on, the nine boys in our group talked incessantly. As we all got more tired, and more tired of each other, the talking slowed down and then stopped. Those were the days of hiking with my thoughts. The place was so beautiful. Ponderosa pines. Aspen forests. Wide meadows opening up beneath mountain peaks. My kept asking, “What would Anna think of all this?” The answers were at once evocative and comical. I knew that Anna would love the beauty of the place. She would love the care that the Scouts have taken in preserving a clean and prisitne environment. But I also knew that Anna was not cut out for the kind of grind we had to go through each day to endure it. Instead, she would be content to wait for us at home, and upon seeing Sam get off of the airplane all grimy and stinky, say with a huge smile, “Oh Saaam!” She loved her brother.
Another scouting milestone we had at the end of the summer was Sam earning his Life Scout rank. His next stop is Eagle. The court of honor that evening was particularly special as all of Sam’s grandparents were present. Timberley’s mother, father and step-mother came down from Richmond, and my Dad and his new wife, Ollie, came out from California. A few weeks later, Sam and I had a chance to attend a wedding of a friend of ours from Indonesia, who is now at Southeastern. She was married here on campus and many old friends from Indonesia came to the wedding. It was a great reunion for us, but one which brought back many memories as well, as those who knew Anna best were brought back into our lives. Sam and I had a great time there, maybe especially Sam since he had a chance to cut the rug a bit.
Finally, I just returned from a trip to Vietnam. I taught a class there for a Bible school at Grace Baptist Church in Saigon. It was my first time to Vietnam. The similarities between Vietnam and Indonesia were obvious and many. As the week went on, I began seeing the differences as well. But the whole week was a reminder of where we have been, and what we left behind there when we left. It was a wonderful time and I am hoping to return and bring the whole family.The only major mishap was taking a day-long bus tour on the day I was going to leave. My flight left at midnight, so I took a tour that went to the Mekong River delta and visited several local factories that make honey, coconut candy, etc. What I did not know was that the tour also included romps through the jungle getting from site to site and several trips up and down the river, one of which was by row boat. The row boat couldn’t quite get to the dock, however, so we had to wade through the river to get to the boat. Unfortunately, I was dressed in my travel clothes with my good shoes (I had no others, actually). So off came the shoes and socks, and I rolled up my pants, and into the river! I was feeling very Indonesian. Did I mention that it is rainy season in Vietnam? It was a wet day.
All in all, things are going well here. Joy mixed with sadness seems to be the human condition until the Lord returns. Maranatha.