I’d been on the road for about 10 weeks when everything careened off track. Between the earthquakes in Japan and Bali, subsequent tsunami warnings, freaky supernatural happenings, painful (and expensive) bike accidents and ill-timed Facebook messages, my nerves, recently lulled into a dreamy, relaxed stupor by yoga and massages, were suddenly frayed like a burned up electrical cord. For the first time since I left, I felt the weight of being away from home, family, friends and church.
It’s hard to describe, but… sometimes you wanna go where everybody knows your name. Where they’re always glad you came. You wanna be where you can see our troubles are all the same. You wanna go where everybody knows your name.
Since I was a full 10,000 miles from people who know my name in a country where no one could even pronounce it, I knew it was time to go to the one place where I would be at ease in a room full of strangers. I asked the receptionist at Kumara Sakti if there were any Christian churches in Ubud. Having been surrounded by Balinese Hinduism and all its rituals for the past week, I expected to have to spend Sunday on my own with an Andy Stanley podcast. (Not a bad thing – he’s one of the best!) Fortunately, she perked up and said, “Oh yes! One of the staff guys is a Christian, too! He will take you to church.” Well, that was easy. (Thanks, God!)
I flung myself with gusto into the church building. Y’all know I go to church on a regular basis just because I want to, but I don’t think I ever felt the need to be around Christians as much as I did that Sunday. Everything was spinning so fast, and I needed likeminded folks to grab me by the shoulders and say, “It’s ok, and you know it. God has everything under control.”
That’s exactly what happened. After hurtling myself through the doors, and emotionally singing a few songs, and being so joyful about every wonderfully familiar truth that was spoken, I stayed an hour after the service chatting about my current dramas with perfect strangers. I met a sweet couple from California who shed some light on Balinese culture and religion, and reminded me that home is never too far away. And they introduced me to a handful of Indonesians who believed in everything I believe in. It was like drinking an ice cold Gatorade at halftime in The Swamp – refreshing!
If there’s one part of this journey I’m loving so far, it’s meeting brothers and sisters in Christ all over the world. From the rustic village church in Fiji to the congregations just like home in Australia, I have always been welcomed like family, and that means a whole lot to a lonely traveler.
After church, I returned to Kumara Sakti refreshed and revived. With my two remaining cohorts, heretofore known as The Dutchies, I plotted the escape from Ubud. (More about that in the book, too!)
Up next… 4 Month Update!