The oval window is restrictive. Annoyingly so. I crane my neck this way and that, trying to get a better view and mainly just succeed in hitting my forehead against the glass which is surprisingly closer than I thought, even though I’ve flown on probably hundreds of airplanes. I hope the individual behind me is in a music-induced comatose state and unaware that I, a grown woman, literally just hit my head on the window looking out into the immense black night. 

Other than the tiny window, the wing is also in my way. That’s the thing with traveling with kids. You automatically get placed as far away from the cockpit as possible. Row 15 is like the ultimate limit. Beyond this point, you may not pass, you noisy vagrants. 

But like a magnet, an irresistible force is pulling me to see, calling me out to the atmosphere beyond the 747. So I hit my forehead again, look through the oval, around the wing, into the darkness. Above, the sky is sprinkled with stars, gorgeously indifferent to earthly occurrences. I look down and catch my breath.

We are flying between Cancún and Villahermosa, across the Yucatán Peninsula, over the land of the ancient Maya, pyramids and palm roofed huts. The land below is spotted with cloud cover, the deep jungle black with night. But like a thousand fallen stars, a stunning reflection of the sky above, the light from a thousand villages beam up to my little window. Extracting my smooshed forehead for a wider look, there is hardly any demarcation between land and sky. Darkness and white twinkling spots for miles upon miles upon miles. 

David Livingstone’s words are reverberating in my head, “The haunting specter of the smoke of a thousand villages in the morning sun is still burning within my heart. We need to go back.” 

It’s flat here. There are no mountains to climb to look over a plain. But from 30,000 feet, the view is pretty good. The light from a thousand villages, their usual smoke undetectable at night, burned again into my soul. Maps have done a good job of it before. Taking back roads and crossing through village after village have made me wish we had more than one life to live. And now, seeing them all at once, lights in the darkness, but the people spiritually dark and without light? Awestruck. Familiar names fly through my mind: Muna, Chunhuhub, Hopelchén

The majority don’t know the greatest Light has come. That His light has shined through our darkness, flooding us with hope and joy and life. If only they knew Him as theirs, so much sin and sadness would be gone. Those villages wouldn’t shine with just incandescent light. They would shine with the glory of Christ in me. 

I love assemblies of believers, I love watching a church come together. But what I yearn for most of all, what pulls and motivates me is exactly this view. The light of a thousand villages without Christ is crying out to our souls. Someone needs to go back.

NASA image: https://www.meridahoy.com/destacado/asi-se-ve-la-peninsula-de-yucatan-desde-el-espacio/

Note on the image: You can make out a thin strip of lights at the top of the peninsula which is Cancún where there are several believers…and some nice beaches! The large city across on the other end (a 3 hour drive or so) is Mérida. There is a group of christians in the village of Paraíso about an hour away. Our son Damian is also buried in this city. Following down the coast, the next city is Campeche. The line crossing over between the Gulf and the lagoon is the island of Carmen where we have lived and worked for several years. There is an assembly there and on the opposite side of the lagoon. We currently live an hour west of the island. The large city at the bottom of the image is Villahermosa. A local couple is working there and they have seen encouraging interest. It’s incredibly humbling to see how God is working in this area of Mexico. May many of those other spots become bright lights for Christ.

Unless something of extraordinary proportions of interestingness occurs, we’ll see you here next in 2022. Blessings to you all at the end of this year, may God be with you and comfort you and carry you through -Penelope.

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