I can barely remember the dreaded phone call. Most of us know deep down that this kind of call will come at some point—likely in the middle of the night—and our lives will be changed forever. Mine came in the middle of a 17-day trip overseas.

It was my first international trip for work, visiting schools and churches in China, Kenya, and Uganda. I was both nervous and excited. My dad commended it as a career opportunity, while my mom was more apprehensive.

I had my own worries about them both—Dad in and out of the ER in recent months, Mom with symptoms of undiagnosed dementia. It was enough for me to tell them outright before I left: “Do not have a major crisis and do not die while I’m away.” It was a real concern, but an impossible request. My dad said, “I’ll try.” My mom replied, “Who do you think I am, God?”

So I was off, a haze of marathon flights, airport lounges, and Ebola health checks on days we travelled and packed days with inspiring people of faith when we arrived. I met first-generation Christians in China and talked with teachers working in impoverished slums in Kenya. During the last leg of our trip, a Ugandan boy whispered to me, “Jesus saved my life.” It had been a lot to take in: the travel, the cultural adjustments, the people, and the great need I saw all over.

As my colleagues debriefed one night, my boss took a phone call. I thought he was chatting with his wife. But then he waved me over. At first I didn’t take him seriously, but next he said all I needed to know: “Amy, it’s your sister.” That was it. I immediately predicted why she called—my dad had died. Everything went numb.

My ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.