One year ago on the morning of July 4, Cheryl and I drove our youngest daughter Gina to Bush Intercontinental Airport, the starting place of her journey to Malaysia. Although we were excited about the adventure that awaited her half a world away, as parents we still felt that tug of concern for our barely twenty-year old daughter. But, God gave us an inexplicable peace as we hugged and kissed her and then watched her go through security and on toward her gate. Gina had accepted a six-month assignment to work with college students in Kuala Lumpur. A couple of months later she asked our permission to extend her stay another six-months. Knowing what this meant to her and believing that God would use this time to help our daughter grow and stretch in new ways, we agreed. I’m glad we did. We have watched Gina grow in so many ways via the blessing of Skype and FaceTime. We have talked almost daily, have met many of her friends, and have shared both her excitement and concerns about so many things related to her ministry in Malaysia.
On the afternoon of the day that we took Gina to the airport, I returned to the airport to start my journey to India with a group of high school graduates in tow. We had an absolutely wonderful time serving the least of these at Mother Teresa’s homes, teaching children at a slum school that we support, and ministering to young girls rescued from sex trafficking and now live at the aftercare home that we help to fund. Tomorrow afternoon, Monday, July 2, I will journey back to Kolkata with this year’s high school graduates from Kingsland’s student ministry. We will once again serve at Mother Teresa’s homes and at the aftercare home that we support. As I leave this side of the planet to travel to Kolkata, Gina will be flying from Taiwan to Tokyo and then on to Houston. She will arrive the day after I leave. So, I will have to wait another ten days before I see her but she has promised to pick me up at the airport when I return. That will make this homecoming extra special for me.
Gina’s homecoming will also be special. My wife Cheryl and daughter Niki have worked hard to plan a fun homecoming party for Gina. And although I have to wait an extra ten days before I see Gina, I am fortunate to have had the opportunity to spend a few days with her when I traveled through Malaysia last Fall. Cheryl, however, has had to patiently wait a full year and can hardly wait to embrace Gina. As parents we are grateful for all the ways in which God has used Gina and all that He has done to help her mature in her faith. Perhaps the toughest part for us was when Gina had an emergency appendectomy. We will forever be grateful to all of her friends who stood by her during her hospitalization and recovery. Because Gina made so many friends in Malaysia, the past week has been very tough for her as she has had to say her goodbyes. We have been deeply moved by her tears. Fortunately, she will be able to stay connected with her friends in Malaysia and beyond through the wonders of social media.
Cheryl and I want to express our thanks to each of you who prayed for Gina, sent her encouraging notes, and who also encouraged us. This has truly been an amazing adventure for Gina and for our family. We look forward to having Gina home where she will return to college this Fall and continue to make herself available to God. We love her and are proud of her for going beyond!