I flew back to the United States in March to attend the International Site Coordinators Meeting of the Young Adult Volunteer (YAV) Program of the Presbyterian Church (USA) at Ferncliff Campground outside Little Rock, Arkansas. Perhaps, it was trying to schedule things too tightly together or, perhaps, it was my body telling me it was time to rest, but I came down with acute bronchitis during the YAV Site Coordinators Meeting – with a deep chest cough, fever and chills. My trip to an Urgent Care Center in Little Rock resulted in a prescription for Augmentin. Augmentin contains a combination of amoxicillin and clavulanate potassium. I have never had a bad reaction to penicillin or amoxicillin before, but I developed dizziness, severe diarrhea, weakness and loss of appetite on top of the fever, chills and cough of my bronchitis. Long story short: I was in no condition to interview YAV candidates for Thailand that week and, as a consequence, we lost the opportunity to open the YAV site in Thailand this year. I was devastated.
I had a lot of questions for God that next week as I stayed in my sister’s home in Seattle, recovering from my illness and the side effects of the medication. Why this? Why now? Why the loss of an entire year because I was ill for a few days? I spend some long, beautiful, sunny (rare for Seattle) days, sitting in the living room of my sister’s house, looking out over Puget Sound toward the Olympic Mountains wondering what it all meant – for me, for the YAV Program in Thailand, for our relationship with our Thai church partner. I spent quiet time alone in prayer, time reading over the objectives of the YAV Program, time thinking about our Thai church partner, and time wondering what God had in mind – for this ministry, for the young people who apply to be YAVs, and for the relationship between the PC(USA) and the church in Thailand.
There was no blinding insight that came from this time of quiet reflection, but there was a wonderful peace and calm that took the sharp sense of disappointment away. In that next week, my son flew up from San Diego and spent a few days with me, sharing news of what was new in his life and talking about his plans for the future. It was a real joy to see him and be with him – and to watch him playing with my sister’s dog, Beau. Beau loves to chase lime-green tennis balls down the hill and bring them back to be thrown again. Julian obliged him during those times when he wasn’t tied to his computer fixing code problems with the mobile applications that he designs. Somehow, in this day and age, our work follows us wherever we go, despite our own desires for time apart and a time of Sabbath rest. It was still good to see his face and hear a little about his busy life as a code slinger.
On Julian’s final day in Seattle, God gave us both a gift – a sign of his presence and his promises for our lives. Through the mist of a gentle rain, this brilliant and lovely arching rainbow appeared and stayed for the longest time. Not only did we see this section of it as we gazed out of the windows, but a perfect reflection of it appeared in the window opposite. It was like we were covered by the arc of the rainbow – covered by God’s love and grace. The peace that filled me in that moment was indescribable. I knew – once again – that God was in charge and that all would be as God has willed. I am God’s servant and I wait to see what God will do in my life, in my son’s life, in the ministry here in Thailand, and for all of the young people who will come to Thailand through the YAV Program in the years to come. God is good!