I've been a fan of Discovery Channel's Shark Week since I was in college. A big fan. When I spent my summers volunteering at church, Tina (and Jamie and Paul depending on who was around) would listen to me spout off the new shark facts I'd learned the night before and laugh at me for my weird excitement. This became a bigger joke when Tina and Jen took me to a beach weekend before I moved to Germany and we found a mechanical shark for me to ride. I was laughing so hard I couldn't stay on, and the operator was laughing so hard at me, he kept letting me get back on to watch me fall off again far more times than our fee would normally allow.
This is my last week in America for a while, and it's Shark Week. The Discovery Channel has capitalised on other weirdos like me, and several years ago they picked up the tagline, "Live every week like it's Shark Week." This makes me laugh. I want to live every week with the enthusiasm I have to learn and share my new shark facts with other people; I want to live every week with the passion of loving Jesus and loving others.
I'm posting a day early because I'll begin my long journey home tomorrow morning. I'll arrive back in Germany ready to love God and love others - while missing a lot of people who I really love on this side of the ocean. One of the fun things I got to do this week was hang out with my family all day Thursday which included an hour recording a podcast with my aunt and uncle (which should drop today or tomorrow if you listen to Grace World podcast). I don't take for granted that I like my extended family. I wrote about that a couple weeks ago when I had a dinner with my mom's side of the family, and this week it was time with my dad's side. I actually enjoy them all which seems like a rare treat.
Here's the thing about not only my family, but all the people I chose to spend time with in America - they love me unconditionally, and they always have my back. The day before my biological family day, I had a mini HammerHouse reunion which is another kind of family. The Hutchings spent a year as my upstairs neighbours, and they made an hour drive south with their four kids to have a meal with me while we were in the same time zone. That meal was another special kind of loving for me because, again, they love me unconditionally, but they also have some experience of the missionary community where I live.
I just finished John Perkins' new book on suffering, and I do have plenty in my life that's not easy, but I have a huge cloud of witnesses who know me, know my heart, and support me fully as I go on mission to love God and love others. Since most people will be reading this before or while I'm traveling, I'd love to ask for prayers for safe travel, but based on the content of the book, I'd also ask that you pray for me to keep my eyes on Jesus while I return to my "mission field." I use quotes for that because while I have a missionary visa and all, I'm really going back to my real life, living and loving, in what happens to be another country from my passport. There's lots of stuff out there that could distract me from what I'm called to be doing, and I want to live intentionally to honour God.
There are some regular contributors on Shark Week, and at this point, I'm a big fan of Chris Fallows and his team - but sometimes Dickie Chivell (who has become a contributor in his own right) does some really stupid things. My mom watches with me, and both of us will shout, "That's so stupid!" at some of the stunts these camera operators pull that can be incredibly dangerous. One of the recurring hosts, Paul de Gelder, actually lost two limbs in one of his first shark encounters, but he returns year after year teaching respect for the wild animals. He says entering the water is like signing a waiver because you are in shark territory. In so many ways, getting on the plane to go back to Germany is a similar choice on my part to enter the territory where I may be hurt - but I'm doing it because I want to point people to Jesus on both sides of the ocean.