By Rev. Valerie Andrews. This is the fourth in a series of posts on the Republic of Georgia.
Having been identified as a potential participant in the spiritual pilgrimage to Tbilisi, Republic of Georgia (sponsored by AB Women’s Ministries) was something I never expected. As I went through the many days and months of planning, I rarely gave much thought to what would occur. Finally the day arrived and I found myself at the Newark, New Jersey, airport anxiously waiting for my sisters to arrive as well. We laughed, talked, fellowshipped over a meal, and then we were off to Munich, Germany.
It seemed as if we had not been too long in the air when I happened to look at my watch and noted that it was somewhat late in the States. I watched a movie, took a few z’s, and woke up to what I thought was the reflection of lights on the wings of the aircraft. I opened the window shade only to be stirred to tears…it was the dawning of a brand new day! I hadn’t expected to move into another day while leaving behind yesterday. Completely overwhelmed, I began to journal my thoughts about such an unexpected blessing; knowing that God was still in yesterday, but had moved us into tomorrow!
Shortly thereafter, the plane landed and we were in Munich. What a beautiful place! We were surrounded by people dressed in special attire, and later learned we were in the midst of celebrating Christ! This, too, was not expected but beautiful to the eye as the community sang unto our God. We enjoyed a scrumptious meal, walked, talked, and simply beheld God’s beauty in this country. Later that evening, we prepared to return to the airport for the lengthy flight to Tbilisi.
It was now 3:00 a.m. and we had safely arrived in the Republic of Georgia. As we landed there was evidence that rain had fallen, but it did not dampen any of us. I would like to think that we were excited and tired all at the same time, but open to what was before us.
Being greeted by a group of the warmest people was simply amazing. It was 3:00 a.m.! Who does that? Sure, I could understand if perhaps three people were there, but it was a miniature-sized congregation standing there smiling, with loving arms and firm handshakes waiting for our arrival. The unexpected was once again at work!
In a few hours my roommate, LaKeenyna, and I were awakened…our journey onwards to Tbilisi had begun! There was much to see, learn, embrace, experience, and discover. I wasn’t quite sure where to begin, nor with what. Initially, I felt out of sorts as the Itinerary seemed somewhat drafted in “busyness”. Not the expected. I later learned however, it was all part of the plan of preparing us for those unexpected moments when God would show Godself the people, nature, and circumstances in the span of two weeks!
I warmly quote this phrase, “Expect the Unexpected,” as so eloquently preached one Sunday during our travels by the Rev. Angel Sullivan, one of my fellow pilgrims. This was and is the only way I can describe my experience on this spiritual pilgrimage: May we open our hearts to this concept and see what the LORD will do!
Rev. Valerie Andrews is events coordinator (2012-2015) for American Baptist Women’s Ministries, and business manager at Church of the Redeemer Baptist in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.