They’re off

At a quarter past midnight a MAS plane took off from Auckland, bound for Kuala Lumpur and on to Bangalore. In far too recent history a MAS plane disappeared without trace. Just last week one on the KL to Bangalore leg had to turn back due to a blown out tyre, though at the time no-one knew why they had just veered dramatically off course. And at the same time, other friends were travelling back from Nepal and their luggage disappeared just like the first plane.
Two kiwi kids on last night’s flight are hoping for a more successful outcome.
Those two kids have not travelled alone before. They have travelled fairly extensively, but as they pointed out to us (their parents), they have only ever had to follow. We, the parents, always knew which gate to turn up at, which train platform to look for, how much money to carry, how to find cheap food, what to write on the various forms that are part and parcel of travelling, what to do when something went wrong. Sure, they were sent down to the bakery to buy bread in Bulgaria and Poland on their own, but that’s not quite the same!

Family Photo_50We’re confident they’ll be fine. They’re probably less confident than before we gave them the How To Keep Yourself Safe talk. Before that they didn’t even realise there were so many ways to be unsafe!
They didn’t realise they might have to feel rude refusing a little old lady who begs them to carry a teddy bear for her at the airport (“Yes, Kaleisha, you might feel rude, but you have to absolutely insist that you cannot take it for her, no matter how sad her story or how delightful she tells you that you are. You must refuse. You can take her to the information desk, but you must not take the teddy bear, or parcel or bag or whatever she might want to give you.”)
Kyle didn’t realise he will be standing guard outside public toilets and that he will go in to the ladies if his sister has not emerged after an agreed-upon time and she doesn’t reply to his calls. Yes, he will make a scene if he needs to.
He didn’t realise he would have to wake up in the middle of the night and accompany his sis to the loo if she wants to go and they don’t have a private ensuite.
They didn’t realise that while they were sleeping comfortably on the many overnight trains we have taken, that their mother was hugging a bumbag full of ten passports and tickets and a camera to boot. Now it will be their turn.
All these things that you *just know* as an adult and carry round at the back of your head sound ominous when you spell them out to your kids. But better safe than sorry. And hopefully they’re just fearful enough to take seriously the warnings we have given and to look out for each other, to be alert, to remember to be aware.

More than all that, though, we hope they go with open eyes and open hearts. That they be willing to be touched by the people they meet, to be challenged by what they see, to align their future lives differently than they might have if they had just stayed in comfortable suburbia with the assurance of friends for three months. Seven years ago we were planning a trip that we hoped would open their eyes and hearts…

2007

2007

It seems it did! Neither Kyle nor Kaleisha actually wanted to leave our kiwi shores when we first made the suggestion. In fact, there may have even been some foot stomping. Real, actual foot stomping. Accompanied by spoken words which they informed us were said in capital letters and followed by exclamation marks. We didn’t make them go, we just asked them to consider the possibility. And they opened their hearts.
Now there is tension for me as their mother. I want them to be safe. But I want them to be willing to risk everything, too.
May this be the beginning of two lives abandoned…..actually, make that another step towards eight lives lived for others….

lent to us for a season,  go out and make an impact

lent to us for a season,
go out and make an impact

2014

2014

India

Spain Sept 15 O Cebreiro (48)

Kyle and Kaleisha were quite looking forward to being left home by themselves for three months.
And then we asked them to consider going to India. Here’s their story so far in Kyle’s words:

It all started with mum’s extremely crazy idea that Kaleisha and I should go to India for three months next year while she took the little kids walking for 1,000km (another crazy idea). Now mum is always thinking up crazy ideas and making wild plans so we thought that this was just another one of those unbelievable ideas that in a few days would be forgotten. Ha! We couldn’t have been more wrong! Mum contacted some people who she had known since she was at university and had kept in contact with who were doing missionary work in India, looked into booking flights and even came up with a rough itinerary. This was a serious proposal.

Our initial response was a huge NO! To start with, neither of us had ever wanted to go to India. And we definitely didn’t want to go away for three months by ourselves! We were also worried that we wouldn’t be able to complete a full year of school, and the whole idea was totally out of our comfort zone. Mum quickly came up with a study plan that would allow us to get in a full year’s study around our trip. As for traveling alone, well she asked Grandpa if he would like to go with us and he was all for it and told us that ‘by the time you are 80 three months is just a blink of the eye.’ It seemed that most of our biggest worries had been ‘solved’, but we still weren’t convinced. We weren’t 80 and three months was ages to us, especially away from family and friends!

After about a week of talking to mum, dad, Grandpa and friends, and a whole heap of praying, Kaleisha said that she was happy to go – however she didn’t want to go for three months. And then about a week and a half later I said that I would be happy to go for a month, but no longer. Mum continued to encourage us to think about going for longer so that we could make the most of the opportunity. We slowly but surely gave in and then finally agreed on around two and a half months. Mum doesn’t like us saying “gave in”, but that’s what it felt like. We were reluctant, but we could see that we could learn so much and even though it wasn’t our first choice, it would be a valuable experience for us. Although mum and dad didn’t force us to go, in our hearts we knew it was the right thing to do.

By this time mum had communicated quite a bit with the people in India and had a fair idea of what we could possibly do there if we did go. There were ideas of us working in churches, helping look after some children, working in orphanages and/or schools for disadvantaged children, helping run a children’s program at a conference and doing some tripping around.
Once we said that we would be happy to go, mum reserved seats on a flight that leaves on the 26th of April, 2014. 1 o’clock in the morning!

So the plan is that we will fly up alone and spend the couple of months based in Bangalore staying with the people who mum knows, doing whatever we can to help them. After our time in Bangalore, Grandpa is going to come up and meet us and we will travel around India for a month. We plan on visiting the town where he grew up as a child, dipping our feet in the Ganges, camel riding in the desert and tuktuk riding in the city, and I should celebrate my birthday at the Golden Temple in Amritsar. On the way home we will be stopping in KL for a few days to catch up with our extended family, who live there. We will arrive back in Auckland on the 20th of July.