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Thoughts on life by Teri McCarthy

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Waiting…

Posted by admin in November 21st, 2011
Published in Waiting

I spend a lot of time waiting these days. Waiting for the bus. Waiting for FedEx. Waiting for OTR carpools. Waiting for water delivery. Waiting for laundry to dry. Waiting for translation. Waiting for Daryl. Waiting in line for groceries. Waiting.

Funny thing about waiting in a foreign land–it’s not like waiting for a checkup in the doctor’s office back home or teeth cleaning at my dentist’s. For those things I usually take a book, a favorite magazine and a nice cup of coffee and actually enjoy the wait. Waiting in that way is different. No real worries like, “Did I misunderstand my appointment?” “Am I sure I’m waiting in the right place?” “What’s holding things up?” “What am I missing here?”

Waiting in a foreign land is more difficult than in one’s native country. Why? Well there are two main reasons: one, if you don’t speak the language you are a deaf, illiterate mute. Secondly, you can never rest while waiting in a foreign land because you are constantly looking for cues, clues, watching others, ‘on alert’ in case an announcement is made and the crowd moves. In a foreign land you are always defining, redefining, interpreting and most of all guessing about what is happening. And thus waiting becomes a bit of a…well…uh…a stressful thing!

For example, waiting for the bus. Is it supposed to come on time? Yes. But it doesn’t always. That’s okay because everyone else is waiting too. But when you are used to having your own car and getting in and going—well, let’s just say… it’s an adjustment.

Next, there’s waiting for FedEx. At home your cousin ships you a package from Dallas to Kansas City. You track it online; it’s get there on time; it’s delivered; you sign and voila you got your package. But in a distant land, things might be a little different. Say, the FedEx tells you that you cannot have your package because they don’t know exactly what’s inside it. Okay. You’ll need to come to the FedEx office (by taxi because no bus goes that way) and sign some papers, pay some cash and then they’ll give you the next directions. In some ways it is very similar to a kidnapping situation. Kidnapper: “Bring the cash, don’t call the police, come in a disguise to a specific location we’ll disclose later and then wait and we’ll give you your next directions.” Hmmm…

So FedEx location found; paperwork signed; payment made, but wait a minute! “What? I have to go to the airport? Why? Oh to pay another fine at the Medicine Bank and get a receipt and then, bring it back to you (is someone Punking me? Where’s Ashton Kusher?)”.

So ya go to the airport (walking is a great way to get to the airport when you don’t have luggage). Ya go to the Medicine Bank where, well there’s a line. Uh huh. And then you pay and get a nice green stamp on your receipt and ya walk back to the FedEx building (still in a disguise) and give them your nice stamped receipt and they say, “We’ll deliver your packages on Monday between 11:00 and 5:00 and we need you to be home to sign for them.” So guess what? Yes. More waiting. (It’s here that the kind FedEx employee Lena went into a bit of a frozen shock when I asked her if I could catch a ride home in one of the FedEx trucks making deliveries). “Umm no I don’t think that is okay, ” Lena stuttered. “Why?” I asked. “I don’t know,” she replied and I went outside and yes, waited for a taxi.

While in Klaipeda teaching my class for LCC this weekend (I do this once a month) I hear about a minivan that takes passengers to Vilnius for just a little more mula than the regular bus and it only takes three hours compared to the regular four and half to five on the big bus or train. “Three HOURS!” I’m thrilled and say, “Get me on one of those.” So I go and I get on a minivan heading to Vilnius. It’s supposed to leave at 12:00 NOON. But I’m there a quarter ‘til 12:00 and they say I have to wait because they need more passengers and we’ll leave at 12:30 at the latest. Still faster than the slow bus or train, so I say, sure no problem. I’ve got a good book. I read my book on the minivan. The driver gives me an apple. I eat it. I’m reading thinking of all the things I’m going to do at home because I’m saving nearly two hours using this minivan. Yippee!

And then it’s 12:25 and no one is on the van. No one says anything to me of course because I don’t speak the language. Then it’s 12:35, 12:40, 12:45—now it’s too late to catch the big bus or even the train. It’s 12:50. Who can read and get lost in a book now? I’m having to watch every single movement of the driver or anyone passing by the minivan.

I’m wondering if that apple might be dirty or something because my stomach is churning and I really am not feeling too well. And I’m thinking if I had taken the big bus I’d be on my way by now.

Waiting and watching and wondering and yes, a little bit of worrying.

Finally at 1:10, a nice gentleman comes to the minivan (not the driver) and tells me that he wants me to go in his station wagon. He’s waiting for two women who will go to Vilnius and I can ride with them. He says all of this in German because it’s the only foreign language he speaks. Do I understand him? No. But I follow and I get in the station wagon and I wait. And finally the two women come and it’s 1:20 and we’re on our way out of Klaipeda. If it takes 3 hours I’ll arrive in Vilnius at the same time as the big bus! Okay. I’m okay. We head out of town and about five minutes into the drive, the station wagon pulls over. Seems there’s a kid of a friend of a neighbor who wants to ride with us. We pull off the side of the highway and wait and finally the young college student arrives with his Dad. They kiss good-bye (tearfully). The kid climbs in the back of the wagon. We start off (it’s now 1:35) and we’re driving and driving and no one is talking because well, no one knows each other, and then the driver asks, “Anyone want to stop for coffee?”

And we do.

I make it home 30 minutes later than if I’d taken the big bus. I do a load of laundry because I don’t have a dryer and I need the sheets to dry before Daryl comes home on Tuesday. No I’m not kidding. I’m literally waiting for laundry to dry as I am writing this.

But here’s the thing. The Bible says a whole lot about waiting. For example, “They that wait upon the Lord will renew their strength and they will mount up on wings like eagles. They will run and not be weary; they will walk and not faint.” Teach me Lord to wait.

Psalm 130:5, “I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope.”

Waiting has become a good thing for me. I’ve learned to pray over the people around me; to take notice of the woman at the bus stop, the taxi driver on the way to FedEx, the young man in the back of the station wagon. In the U.S. my life is filled with busyness and I drive myself to and fro; I plan this thing or that, but here in our precious land of calling Lithuania I have no control over bus schedules, FedEx packages or even my laundry. I am totally and completely in the Lord’s hands and if I believe in Ephesians 2:10, which I do, then I’m waiting (and walking) in some kind of good works that God prepared for me before the foundations of the world were laid. So, my waiting is part of His plans for me. I find myself praying over people I would never have known without the long line. I find myself praying in the Spirit over the neighborhood, the building, or even the bus station where I’m waiting. And in some strange way I’ve found a peace in the waiting—a release that there’s nothing I can do to speed things up. Also I have the privilege of trusting in God every day for every need and every unexpected moment. Waiting has helped me live out Psalm 131:2, “But I have stilled and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with its mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me.”

Efficiency of time, control over my schedule, ability to make things happen—all of these things are gone for me, but there in place of those things I find grace, mercy and an overwhelming peace in the waiting.

This is why those that wait upon the Lord will have their strength renewed.

So life in Lithuania is a lot about waiting. But it’s also about a minivan driver sharing his lunch with me, a FedEx employee emailing me and thanking me for being kind to her. It’s about choosing to take the train (which is five hours long) and finding out on a packed Friday train to Klaipeda, the young woman sitting next to me is the best friend of one of my students! And both of them seeing the miraculous in that.

No Car. No Conveniences. No Control. But ample opportunities to see Jesus move and to experience the Lord God Creator holding my hand while waiting and giving me His peace. Peace.

5 users Responded In This Post

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494. burnettbs said,
November 21st, 2011 at 7:35 am

Thanks, Teri, for sharing this. It is so true! In the US and in the West (as in here in Germany) we are always so hurried and full of conveniences. But waiting is one way the Lord can use to get our attention. Otherwise we think we do not have enough time to get things done.

Brian

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495. Texas Sister said,
November 21st, 2011 at 5:10 pm

I was so inspired…again by your perceptive observations concerning waiting. I wait and fume and fuss. I can now try to mortify my flesh and focus on His Kingdom all around me that is white unto harvest instead of my own annoyance at not having my way when, how and where I want it.
Hope the sheets were dry by the time Big D got home…and to think I complain in my heart about waiting for the dryer to buzz and then it interrupts MY agenda when it does.
I repent

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496. noeldhorton said,
November 21st, 2011 at 7:12 pm

Well said, Teri. We can definitely relate! One of the most important things we were told before leaving the States was to examine and re-examine our expectations. I’m so thankful Father has a purpose in everything–even the waiting!

Noel

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497. Jihye said,
November 21st, 2011 at 7:34 pm

It’s relieving to read how it must have been stressful to a little Korean girl trying to adjust in a foreign land of Kazakhstan byself, experiencing all of what you wrote, but having none to trust. I am in the same situation of trying to adjust in a new environment but this time I will rely on my Savior Jesus in my every moment. It will be different. Amen.
Thank you for your post.

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498. Chris Sumpter said,
November 22nd, 2011 at 5:18 pm

It does get better. Not because the waiting ever gets less, but because we gain perspective. I praise God for how he’s giving you that perspective.

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