August 8th – 10th, 2004

Sea-Tac Airport; 6:00AM. The awkward moments before “something” begins – prior to the beginning of the journey.

I can’t help but compare and contrast this trip to last summer’s wilderness adventure. Is this the trip to the trail head? Is this the trail head itself? When will the fear and anxiety seize me?

Regardless of “how” or “whether” this trip compares, my life is in your hands, Lord. I’m coming to you. This is a journey to you. Show me once again who I am, who you are, and how I can bring you glory. Help me not to miss a single moment, and I pray that you battle for my honor. You’re the one who makes me more than just a potential disappointment.

When it’s time for me to die – give me what I need to die well.

Over Issaquah;7:30AM. Looking back Northward as we climb over Issaquah and I-90, I stretch to see Brenda and the girls. I imagine them still asleep and I miss them. It feels so good to miss them – to HAVE someone to miss…to belong. For someone like me, it’s good to feel the pain of grief or deep longing of some kind, because these are not the kinds of feelings one would choose to “make-up” or artificially amplify in some way. They are not feelings one would normally manipulate into existence. This is an honest feeling – and it means that I really do love them – that there is, in fact, at least SOME part of me that honestly loves.

How quickly I forgot that I am so small. We are all so small.

Miami; 7:05 PM. It already feels like another country. There is almost no English spoken in the airport (except for the ubiquitous CNN on the TV monitors). I suppose it’s good to get a taste of this before I actually LEAVE the country.

I’m tired…and I’m only ½ way there.

The sense that I’m doing something “ridiculous” is beginning to settle in – just like last year’s hiking trip.

I’m feeling remarkably lonely given the press of humanity around me. I’m surprised that it feels very much like the loneliness of being in the wilderness. Is there something to be learned in that, Lord?

Am I just afraid of being alone?

I’ve been fending off a headache for the last few hours. It feels like a “weariness” headache.

One thing that is very different from last year’s trip is the amount of distractions. Duh.

Watching the Brazilian flight crew board the plane – listening to them – observing other passengers (many presumably Brazilian) waiting to board…I’m remembering your statement at the Jazz Workshop, Lord…you’re giving me a heart for the people of the Northeast.

I want that heart.

Side note: Just weeks before this trip to Mossoro in North East Brazil, I attended a week long Jazz Workshop as a gift from my friend “Dale”. It was a great experience on many different levels. The spiritual peak, however, was at the culminating concert where some big-name acts performed. One of them was a vocalist who turned out to be Brazilian. I had been studying Brazilian culture, politics, music and of course Portuguese for a couple of months in preparation for my trip, so it was a treat to experience this little appetizer. As she sang, I prayed in gratitude that God had arranged for this experience, and asked that he expand my heart for the people I would be meeting in Brazil in just a few weeks. She performed a few “stock” Bosa Nova numbers, and then paused to explain that she wanted us to hear some music from the little known North East region, the “roots music” of the area. She went on to explain that this was the music of peasant people, filled with great longing, and she wanted us to “hear the heart of these poor people”… I was gob-smacked..and then she sang…and I could understand most of what she said, and I felt my heart breaking for people I had never me, and I could not chalk up to coincidence the timing, the wording and the enormous “CLICK” sound in my chest. My “Grinch heart grew three sizes that day…” it was one of the best worship experiences I have ever had. As of this writing, after three trips to the region, I have left a part of myself there with my friends from The Nordeste.

Over Bahia; August 9, 2004 2:10PM (Last leg into Fortaleza) After an unannounced stop in Salvador it finally hit me: All this anxiety (I was very close to tears last night as I watched the little plane icon (representing ME!) scoot along a digital map of the world…moving further and further into MY un-known, other un-named boogie men, worry about being late, stuck in customs, getting sick…WHATEVER!) made me realize, I don’t have a home. I don’t have anything that is what can be considered familiar because WHO I AM is changing…and that is the most portable thing imaginable. WHO I AM goes with me everywhere.

I don’t have to be anxious about being “away”. What exactly is “away”? Away from what?…things that are even more dynamic, more fluid than my person! That’s what! A house, “stuff”, a “job” even relationships.

I certainly miss Brenda and the girls…but that’s different than anxiety…that’s a longing.

All of my anxiety comes from self-focus.

Must serve to be free.

Mossoro; August 10, 2004 9:30PM The anxiety has washed away. I am safe here at the Stewart’s.

I don’t know if that’s good news or bad news. Shouldn’t I have a feeling of safety no matter where I am? Shouldn’t I feel safe even when I’m alone?

There’s that lie again. That’s not who I am. I AM courageous, DAMN IT! Because while I am afraid…I do it anyway. Doing something you’re NOT afraid of is not courageous.

I need to remember the words I spoke to Kellie so long ago: you can’t be courageous if you’re not afraid.

God, you’ve shown me who I am…You whispered my name once again on the plane to Sao Paulo: Sam. “If I take one more step, this will be the farthest from home I have ever been…”

In my life…that translated to flying over the Caribbean Sea at just over 500 miles an hour.

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