Well, with my (Chris’) birthday today, that’s the whole family. Our next b-days will be celebrated in Zambia. That’s pretty amazing to think about.
Birthdays, I suppose, are a time to look back. I have pretty clear memories of certain special birthdays. Other birthday events and people stand out in my memory, but the exact year is lost.
I do very clearly remember my 30th birthday, seven years ago today. It was a couple of weeks after I led twelve Spanish students from Wisconsin Lutheran High School on a short-term mission trip to Sonora, Mexico, a trip that came to be known as “Mex04.” We had something of a reunion party at the apartment – all 12 kids came over, we ate tortillas, we looked at each other’s pictures, watched a funny slide show, and reminisced about the trip.
It was even then that I had the suspicion that I wouldn’t stay a Spanish teacher forever, and that somehow, someday, I might find myself a long-term foreign missionary. After seven such trips, and dozens of such kids, that suspicion was totally confirmed.
And today, here we are, less than two months away from departure to Zambia. I’ve joked several times that I “finally got what I always wanted:” one-way plane tickets to a foreign country. Looking back, I can see the path to Zambia with LBT fairly clearly in the events of my life. Looking forward, I’m excited to see what life will be like on my next birthday, and the one after that.
For today, I rejoice in the blessings God has given me, not the least of which are all of those former students, many of them teachers or pastoral students themselves now, whose joy at being young missionaries was infectious, and helped get me to the place I am today. It’s amazing how God uses so many different things to form us into what he wants us to be.