Checking in with Friends, Part Four

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On this road trip from Asheville to Boston, I met with the praying missionaries that had started and ended their stay in Italy with me.  Today I did the same: I started and ended my trip with them.

Wednesday

I left Boston very early this morning.  When I say early, it’s way earlier than what most people think of as early because I wake up very, very early normally.  What’s very, very early?  Any time between 4 and 5AM.  So very early this morning—about 3:30—I left Boston.  Of course I wanted to miss Boston’s morning rush hour.  And I easily did.  I also wanted to miss New York’s morning rush hour.  But I didn’t.  Nevertheless, the route I had chosen kept me out of the worst of it.

As I drove down I-95 in Connecticut I noticed The Bright Morning Star that I’ve written about gliding above the Long Island Sound just before sunrise.  It felt very familiar, since I saw it all summer from my kitchen window in Milan and also from our apartment window in Jerusalem and over our desert tent at Timna Park in Israel.  Its presence makes the world feel smaller, a more manageable size.

The GPS app on the phone wanted to direct me through upper Manhattan and across the George Washington Bridge both on the way up to Boston and again on the return trip.  So both times the thing was actually useless and an annoyance.  I was left to my own dim, coffee-fueled memories of how to get to the Merritt Parkway, the Tappan Zee Bridge, and the New Jersey Turnpike.  I had to laugh at the way that it continued telling me to turn around and go back to the GW Bridge even after I had crossed the Tappan Zee Bridge and no longer needed a bridge to get to the New Jersey side of the Hudson River.  In acting as my own GPS device, I found the Palisades Parkway, and discovered it to be a drive as pretty and pleasant as the Merritt Parkway.

I arrived at my friends’ house about noon, and got to rest up before dinner and going to church for a missions team meeting.  Over dinner we were talking about the way my trip had paralleled their trip to Italy: starting with them, and ending with them, and also, I noticed that, just like in Milan, our first meal together in New Jersey was Italian and our last was Asian.  So we were bookends for our respective visits.  Interesting.

Something I had forgotten to write about that first visit to New Jersey is that I had gone to visit one of the teammates that had come to Italy.  She was facing some personal challenges, so we talked about that.  Then suddenly she asked if I had ever thought about cutting my hair.  I said, “As a matter of fact, I’ve got an appointment for a haircut the day after I get back to Asheville.”  She said, “No, let’s cut it now.”

Most people would be reluctant to let somebody, especially a new friend, cut their hair.  But I figure that even the worst haircut is not fatal.  So she put the long part of my hair into a little ponytail, and then cut it off.  Once that was gone, the rest was pretty easy.  It turns out that she kept my little ponytail.  Since she’s an artist, it could wind up in a piece of art.  Sometimes the most encouraging thing you can do for someone is to let them cut your hair (or do you some other kind of favor).

At church before the missions meeting started I saw one of the teammates from Italy that I hadn’t gotten to see my first time through town: Imma.  She and her husband are Italians who immigrated to the US as children.  Imma had had a dream that she had wanted to tell me about.  When she told it to me, I knew it was a God dream, though I don’t feel that I should share it here since it wasn’t my dream.

I told her about a prophecy that I had gotten a few years back.  The night before, as I was driving back from Cambridge, I was listening to music on my MP3 player.  Listening to music helps me to stay awake while driving at night.  Suddenly I heard my name come out of the speaker: “Alisa!”  Then the person (a well-known prophet) gave me a prophecy.  I hadn’t known that the prophecy was on my MP3 player, so it had shocked me to hear it, and especially starting with my name.  The prophecy had to do with becoming better at relationships, which was definitely a work of God in my life.  I felt like God was telling me: “See how far you’ve come!”  And I really have come a long way in my relational journey.

Then the meeting was starting.  Even though many of their missions do not involve Europe, it was still interesting to sit in on the meeting.  Caring about missions and missionaries was always important to me, so it was good to be in a group of people who care deeply about missionaries.  They talked about upcoming missions trips to Nigeria, Guyana, Israel and Italy (the one I’ve been invited on), Brazil, and Bolivia.  I don’t know how big the church is, but the interest in missions is very encouraging—especially if it’s not a very large church.

The evening didn’t last too late, which was good because I had a long drive back to Asheville the next morning.  An early start would mean that I had a good chance to get back home before dark.

I said my goodbyes and early in the morning (very early!), I started the long drive home.  Though I drove for about thirteen hours, thanks to the early start, I did get home before sunset.  This has been a very enjoyable and productive ministry trip.  God is good!

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Rockin my new look!

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