12 years ago i was on the longest, and first red-eye, flight i had ever been on up until that point. we were approaching são paulo. it took my eyes a while to adjust and my brain even longer to realize what exactly i was seeing. the night sky was filled with millions of lights below. the city was so vast.
it reminded me of landing in mexico city the year before. so many people. everywhere. but this landing felt different. i was a missionary for my church. i felt the tremendous weight of my responsibility that morning as we zipped through the busy streets towards the missionary training center. i found myself suddenly overwhelmed. i turned to the eight others in the van and desperately asked how we could possibly do it. how could we make a dent in a city like this? but anchored in faith and hope we crushed those creeping feelings of defeat as best we could.
i continued to feel that urgency throughout my mission and i gladly, almost guiltily, relinquished it at the end.
several years later i gave in to that same overwhelming darkness. i was in a small hotel room in puno, peru. i had just witnessed the floating islands of lake titicaca.
i had marveled at all the families living in such a small space of floating reeds. i watched as the smallest children managed to stay away from the deadly edges. i laughed as children with backpacks were tossed into the school boat. it was all very surreal. it was something i couldn’t have dreamed up. i was grateful to have seen it.
back in the hotel room i asked my friends the same questions. how could missionaries possibly find these families, on these floating islands in the middle of a lake? how?! my friends brushed my concerns aside.
from time to time, i still thought about those floating islands.