[Before getting this post under way let me share two previous posts from last year in India that explains one reason that the elephant ride today was very special too me…. In search of an elephant ride, in India and Love Does! Traveling with Christina in India]
Making my way northward from Chiang Mai to Chaing Rai I am starting to feel a bit lonely. Having spent the last several days surrounded by friends new and old at the WWO Global Forum, the memories now seem a little surreal as the scenery outside of the bus window fades into a blur. Time and again, the comment was made at the forum that this is a little glimpse of what heaven will be like. People of every race, color and creed bound by a common desire to serve Christ by loving and helping others in need. My loneliness reminds me that God created within each of us a need for relationships, to share stories, to comfort and be comforted, to encourage, and be encouraged. My loneliness fades as I think back to a favorite conversation over a breakfast at the forum.
Sitting beside my new friend Lenneka over breakfast that morning I asked “hey, you want to go ride elephants with my friend Gary and I? Oh, we might see tigers too.” We then laughed about the ability to even entertain the possibly of such activities. Only at a global forum such as this, that brings people together from all over the world could you casually ask a new friend from the Netherlands a question like that. The result was a group of five that included my friend Gary Schneider, my new friend Lenneka and her two friends from India, Vera Fernandes and Anu Silas, all heading out in search of elephants and tigers.
As exciting as it was to share the experience of crossing Thailands beautiful Mae Taeng River on the back of these incredible creatures, each of us would say that the memories we hold most dear are the stories we shared over a meal; stories of God working in our lives to produce hearts for him.
My new friend Anu inspired me with the story she shared of enduring tremendous loss. Years ago, after Anu lost the love of here life to a brain aneurysm, she not only raised her three and six year old daughters alone, but founded Vanitashray, rescuing numerous girls in Mumbai from sex trafficking and ministering to single mothers. I love the conversation that was sparked by the symbolism of the ring that she wears, I’ll save that story for Anu to tell. Vera’s heart for the orphan is clear from the stories she shared of the orphans she ministers to back home in India. Lenneke is a children at risk representive for Loom, traveling the world to educate care providers on how to deal with the issues of the children for whom they serve.
Gary and I treasure the memories that God gave to us that day, divine appointments, a little taste of heaven, there along the banks of the Mae Tarng River in the beautiful Mae Tamen Valley, just north of Chiang Mai, Thailand.
“Being engaged is a way of doing life, a way of living and loving. It’s about going to extremes and expressing the bright hope that life offers us, a hope that makes us brave and expels darkness with light. That’s what I want my life to be all about – full of abandon, whimsy, and in love.”
― Bob Goff, Love Does: Discover a Secretly Incredible Life in an Ordinary World