Nashville to Dulles to Frankfurt, Germany to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia!
Steady. Ready. Eager.
As the plane turned onto the runway, throttled forward, and sped down the pavement, I found myself as prepared and calm as I’ve ever been. I’m in the middle seat between two strangers, listening to my favorite music playlist, bound for Washington Dulles airport, then Frankfurt Germany, then Riyadh Saudi Arabia by tomorrow morning U.S. time (tomorrow night Saudi time).
Last Thanksgiving, I was in the parking lot at Wal-Mart with Lesleigh and 2-week-old Theo when my phone buzzed in my pocket with a call from the U.S. Department of State. I was told that the U.S. Embassy and consulates in Saudi Arabia would like to invite our band on a cultural diplomacy mission to share our music and story. The tour was planned for February until the government shutdown happened. We were postponed until summer before finally confirming a tour for December 2019. It’s been a full year of anticipation and planning, and it feels great to be beginning this journey which we’ve prepared for these many months.
Lesleigh and Theo brought me to the airport today. We hugged, prayed, said goodbye, and Theo saw me off in his own way too:
“Bye, dad!” Zzzzzzzz
It’s amazing to be present in the noticeable growth we’ve experienced as a family this year.
For my first tour without my family (April), my heart was so full and hopeful that Les and Theo would do alright while I was away – he wasn’t sleeping through the night, he seemed so little, and I had to step up and forward into a year of work away from home, trusting we’d still have the close bond we’d formed though I’d be gone so long.
It’s been a year of practicing gratitude for the purpose and path we’ve been called into, and with that in mind, looking forward into life ahead with trust and eager expectation.
These next 10 days will conclude my final international tour of the year. It’ll be my 17th country visited for the U.S.A. in three years, and my ninth international mission this year. Awesome.
What a way to conclude: Saudi Arabia. We had a good briefing by phone with colleagues in DC and in SA. We are getting a good feel for what to expect, and how to have the best tour possible. Some details are known. Many are not. We’re pushing forward with SO much excitement about the days ahead.
The plane is descending into Dulles. Here we go!! Have a wonderful remainder of your thanksgiving weekend, and travel safely. Thank you for your constant encouragement, support, and love. I can’t wait to share more with you in the days ahead.
Your friend, Tony Memmel