I am standing on the ship’s deck, staring through the darkness, straining to see the lone figure of my brother leaning on his canes, with his back against a warehouse. The dock is completely empty, as is the deck of our ship. All of the friends and well-wishers went home several hours ago. Only my brother remains. Many times I’m upset with him for what he calls “determination” and I call “stubbornness.” But, this morning, at 2 a.m., I am thankful to see him there.
The noise of the cranes loading this Japanese freighter/passenger ship and the shouting voices of the workers has ceased: the freight took much longer to load than expected and we are almost eight hours late leaving port. All is blessedly quiet… most of the passengers are already in their cabins.
My hands on the railing feel a quiet vibration. The ship’s motors are starting, and my stomach is tense. I watch as the myriad colored streamers of crepe paper between the ship and the dock rise up out of the water, growing taut: then breaking or falling off the dock or ship. I had never understood the emotional experience of watching the separation of a ship from the shore. Tonight I do. Our ship moves and the figure of my brother grows smaller, then fades into the darkness.
I continue standing there, looking at the darkness with intervals of light from the port as we slowly glide by. I still have my hands on the railing as the tugs throw off their lines to our ship, and we sail out into the Pacific Ocean, leaving Long Beach, CA. and the United States behind us.
A cool ocean breeze picks up as the ship increases her speed. I shiver. Turning away from the railing I brush the tears from my face and head for the cabin where my children and husband are sleeping. I slip into the cabin. Without turning on any light, I get ready and slide into my bottom bunk. The new sounds of a glass tinkling in its holder, the porthole curtains brushing against the window, my younger children stirring in their sleep, the vibration of the ship’s motors … new sounds, a new life.
Am I prepared for it? I don’t know. I’ve studied about cross-cultural communication, culture shock, different cultures and attitudes. But studying and preparation, are different than living it. How will my five children do? 15, 14, 12, 5 and 3 I have no idea. I recognize that by most people’s standards, this move to Brazil is absolutely crazy! At times, during the past years of preparation I, too, wondered about all of this move. But each step of obedience led to the next until, tonight, we are on this ship, sailing into a new life.
Lord, we’re definitely going into the unknown. I have nothing for security other than You. Please watch over us. Show me things and people as YOU see them. Give us wisdom. Protect my children and husband and I. May I hang tightly onto Your hand. . .
The quiet sounds and an exhausted body and mind help me fall asleep. Tomorrow will start the next phase of my life.
Have you ever left everything behind emotionally or physically?
Can you identify with the emotions of the ship pulling away from the land?
How good are you at hanging onto God’s hand?
Once again, going into the unknown as Joe and I leave Brazil to go to the US on May 3rd. Walking into the unknown never stops as we walk with the Lord. What gives me courage to walk is because He is holding our hands.
THESE VERSES HELP!
9 I took you from the ends of the earth,
from its farthest corners I called you.
I said, ‘You are my servant’;
I have chosen you and have not rejected you.
10 So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
11 “All who rage against you
will surely be ashamed and disgraced;
those who oppose you
will be as nothing and perish.
12 Though you search for your enemies,
you will not find them.
Those who wage war against you
will be as nothing at all.
13 For I am the Lord, your God,
who takes hold of your right hand
and says to you, Do not fear;
I will help you.