Across the Miles
by Jenni Key
March 7, 2018
As I write this, I’m sitting alone in a restaurant at the George Bush Intercontinental Airport, awaiting a flight to Dallas and then home to Orange County. Around me, every single person is talking. The thing is, with the exception of the guy chatting with the bartender, no one is talking to anyone who is currently here in the Houston airport.
The man to my right just played tag-you’re-it with a co-worker in regard to some big order from a client . . . the woman at the next table is happily making plans with a friend for when she gets home later tonight . . . and behind me, someone must be FaceTiming a child because there’s a lot of baby talk and commands such as “Look at mommy! Right here! Here’s mommy! Ooooh, you’re the cutest.”
My husband Jim recently returned from our church’s medical mission trip to Vietnam and we made use of texting, phoning and even FaceTiming, ourselves. But one interchange initially had us a bit puzzled.
I usually watch our grandson Ansel on Fridays. On this particular day his mom Emily had come to pick him up and we were gathering his things when he made a beeline for our landline, pulled the phone off the counter and started pushing buttons. Now, I should mention that he’s only 15 months old but technologically brilliant, of course.
At one point he held out the phone to his mommy, saying “Pop-pop!” (his current name for Jim) and Emily dutifully took the phone and played along: “Hello! How are you?” and then handed the phone back to him. I absentmindedly took the phone, pushed the “end” button and returned it to the cradle.
Well, about five minutes after Emily and Ansel left, the phone rang and it was Jim. “Hey, I’m sorry I missed your call!” Huh? Never mind, we had a quick conversation across the 8,000 mile, fifteen-hour time difference.
So . . . you guessed it. Whatever combination of buttons Ansel pushed had included “redial,” and as the last call out had been to Jim, that was the number dialed. So Ansel heard Papa’s voice on the voicemail message, handed the phone to his mom so she could say hello, and left a totally charming recording (which Jim kept for me to hear). There’s background conversation between me and Emily, some squawks of great meaning from Ansel, Emily’s cheery hello and then a final click.
Connection. For conversation. For community. For weaving our lives together with the ribbons of relationship.
My friend Glenda has grandkids in the Czech Republic. She buys two copies of a book, sends one to them, and then they Skype so that Grandma can read to them, turning the pages of the book here, and there, at the appropriate times.
When my friend Robyn was anticipating marriage to Brad—but was separated by a continent and an ocean—they had regular ‘dates’ over the internet where they would do a Bible study together or plays games together or just be together.
We live in a time where it’s almost impossible NOT to be connected by communication across time zones, via the internet, by cell phones, Skype, FaceTime, texting, phoning, emailing—and how about a handwritten note, letter or card? The best.
When I was in Hawaii in January my friend Nicole hand-colored a postcard and poured out her heart on the back. It was waiting for me when I returned and is now a treasured bookmark and reminder to pray for her—and to text or phone her to meet up for Happy Hour!
AT&T used to run an ad campaign that said, “Reach out and touch someone.” Please. Do. There might be someone sitting in an airport, or across the street in their kitchen, alone, who needs to be connected with. Get to it, friends.
And if you need a one year old to help you make that call, I know just the guy.
Director of Women’s/Prayer Ministries
Jenni keeps letters and notes (and prints out emails) from family and friends in a file labeled “You Are Not Pond Scum” for those times when she needs the encouragement they provide. Thank you to so many of you who have filled that file.