Continued from Holding Pattern
October 2000, Manila
My experiences with IBLP had taught me to carry memories with me--I had a small photo album to remind me of my home, my family and friends, Michigan landscapes. I placed a photo of Chris in the front of the album and made sure Dad noticed it while I was packing. I stuck another photo in a desk frame: Chris and his parents standing stiffly in Miss Julie's office at IBLP Headquarters. A small snapshot, but a portal to innumerable shared experiences.
I arrived in Manila late on a Thursday and began my orientation the next day, bracing for culture shock and the tropical climate. Students at Faith Academy were performing "Pride and Prejudice" Friday night and I tagged along with my new friends. I had only been introduced to the story months before. What was it with missionaries and Jane Austen?
The play was tremendous, but jet lag--and maybe the storyline--hit me hard. My head felt like bricks and my eyes kept falling shut. When I collapsed back in my tiny guest room, waves of sobs overwhelmed me. A kind gray-haired woman reassured me that this was a completely normal reaction and I would feel better soon.
In a few days, I was getting the hang of the strange new world I had entered. My mentors gave me some computer assignments to work on in the office and showed me how to access the Internet. Unaccustomed to so much time alone, I was terribly lonely and pouring out my feelings at the piano in the guest house common room only helped so much.
|Chris, in front of the webcam|
Chatting and email having been forbidden, Chris had started a weblog as a way to let me know what he was up to. And he kept his webcam pointed at his desk chair. Every day I would keep his website open on my computer and feel connected.
Had he written to my dad again? Would we soon be granted permission to "court"? What would that even mean? I had no way of knowing the answers. For now, I was glad to be far, far away with exciting new work to distract me.
|The famous yellow notepad|
Since we were on opposite sides of the globe, he would eventually have to head off to sleep. Before he left, he scribbled a note and held it in front of the camera. Thousands of miles away, I was touched by his caring, and his daring. Later I wrote in my journal, "it made me feel warm and happy inside".
Without technically breaking a rule, was he jeopardizing my father's good opinion of him? I hoped not. I carried the image with me the rest of the day, the first time I had seen my name in his writing. Without speaking or typing a word, our hearts were silently communicating across continents.
I confided to my journal another night, "I wonder what would happen if I would see him--in person--again?"
Continued at Staying Strong