Thursday, March 08, 2007

Portland, Oregon

We leave Singapore on a wet Thur morn. Could not call a taxi as we normally do. Jeff comes to the rescue. We make our 9 am flight to LA. Once in LAX Cyn helps us check into a hotel near LAX. She leaves then comes back with drinking water and Starbucks coffee. She's so kind. We make calls then have dinner with Andrew, Cyn and Lee. They even bring a cake.

On Fri we take a 8:30 am domestic flight to Seattle. Dee take us from the airport to downtown Seattle for a pre-arranged meeting. We get Seattle coffee before the meeting. Afterwards we go to JR's place just north of the city. From there JR drives us to Portland. JR's baby daughter Jada cries, not accustomed to the long ride. The rain makes our journey 4 hours instead of the normal 3. It's works out well as Dinah catch up with Warinda and I with Vern and JR. I also call Rach, my friend from Urbana.

We arrive in Portland at 7 pm. Most of the NA pastors and wives are here. We greet each other. The hotel suite is US$74 per night and it's luxurious. The cost of living is low. We go out for dinner. Chai & Crystal bring 3 kids along. These are the kind of people who lead our churches.

The complimentary breakfast is American. This retreat theme is church growth. Lunch is out where the wives do a baby shower for Ann who's expecting her first child this June. At dinner, they celebrate my birthday with 4 big candles. I get a text message from LA saying, "Happy 21st birthday." My real age is somewhere in-between those two figures.

Sunday is check out. At Hope Portland, David from Chicago lead prayer, David and Ann from Portland lead worship, Dinah shares testimony and I preach. Later we lunch with church folks then resume discussions at David and Ann's place. At 5 pm, pastors and wives start to leave. We spend time with David and Malay before meeting Chris and Susan Ward. They have come from Seattle to meet. We get back to David and Ann's at 11 pm, totally exhausted.
Mon is time with David and Ann. They take us to a Christian book store before a dim sum lunch. Next they bring us to shopping outlets before an American dinner. We get home and pack. After I help David set up Skype, Dinah and I pray for the couple.

David starts work at 4:45 am. Ann send us to the Portland airport on Tue. On board Dinah sleeps but the grandma next to me tells me her life story. It turns out she is a pastor's wife. We arrive 1:30 pm at LAX. Lee take us to north of LA then to east of LA for pre-arranged meetings. Then she takes us back to LAX. She' a blessing. Our flight to Singapore is 11:30 pm. The flight transits in Taipei and arrive in Singapore on Thu. Simon is there to take us home where we unpack, do laundry and then swim in the evening. We catch up with the twins over dinner. Jet lag creeps up. Or maybe its age.

No matter how old I am, I never fail to be amazed with people graced by God. Leaders who serve with 4 kids at home, or with 3 kids in tow, or with a young infant or while heavily pregnant. Leaders who drive 7 hours to serve, or serve when their job is uncertain or serve even with multiple sclerosis. Seeing all this first hand is what makes this birthday special.