Going to London

But I don’t want to go to London!

1989-5 England 022According to our return itinerary, our Swazi mission team has a twelve hour layover at Heathrow Airport, in London. Of course, my teammates want to take advantage of the time to see some sights. I totally understand—who wouldn’t jump at the chance to spend some time in one of the most interesting cities in the world?

Me, for one.

1989-5 England 021Normally, I’d be totally up for the adventure. I love to travel. However, by the time we go through customs, exchange money, get to the tube station, and endure the hour-plus trip into the city, we’ll only have a couple of hours before we have to reverse the entire operation to get back in time for our flight to Denver. Spending a significant amount of money for two hours of rushed tourism just isn’t worth it to me. I’ll be tired after the long flight from South Africa. Besides, I’ve already been to London.

So at our most recent meeting, I told our trip leader that I’d prefer to hang out at the airport, dozing and reading at our gate, while everyone else traipsed off to the city. I’d be happy to keep an eye on everyone’s carry-on baggage, as well. Logical, practical, simple, safe. Right?

She said no.

Apparently, our church has a policy that no mission trip member can be on their own, ever, even if said trip member is 58 years old, experienced in international travel, and will be merely sitting in a well-guarded airport for a few hours.

I was speechless.

The next morning I picked up the 40 day devotional we’ve all been reading in preparation for our trip. Let me quote from what author Jack Hempfling  writes:

This is not my usual schedule. … My schedule is being determined by other people. … I don’t have the independence I’m used to. I can’t jump in the car and go where I want, when I want. Others are telling me what I’ll eat, where I’ll sleep, when I’ll shower, and what I’ll do most of the day.

If individuals continue to hold on to and exercise their personal “rights” to be an independent person (“my schedule, my privacy and personal space, my freedom”_, living their own agenda, they’ll miss God’s best for the team.

From Before You Go: Forty days of preparation for a short term mission

Okay, God. Ouch. I get it. You couldn’t make it much plainer. I’m supposed to learn to submit. I agreed to do just that when I signed up for this trip, even though the leader is young enough to be my daughter. I guess I’m not very good at submitting to authority, and I really need this lesson. Thank you.

So, I’m going to London. Not only am I going, but I’m going with a cheerful attitude. I’m planning to have some fun. Who knows—maybe we’ll even see the queen.

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