My youngest daughter, Steph, moved to South Africa. We’re continents apart now. She’s freezing in winter. I’m melting in summer.
Yet, technology collapses the distance.
Yesterday, we had our first Skype date. She got off work at 5:00 p.m. — her time. I had the day off, so I was available at 11:00 a.m. — my time. What an amazing, incredible experience. I could see her and talk to her, as if we sat only a few feet from each other. (Yes, I’ve Skyped before — for business meetings. Somehow it feels different with a loved one living so far away.)
Steph gave me a Skype tour of her new living space. She walked around the room pointing her computer (iSight webcam) at the living area, kitchenette, bath, and window. From the window, I could see the neighborhood and the park she crosses every day to walk to work at the Bethany House.
Our grand plan was to get the iPhone G4 for Steph, once she arrived in Africa. We hoped to FaceTime each other during the year, as well as toggle the iPhone as her internet connection. Alas, she couldn’t get an iPhone, so she bought a regular phone with an South African service provider, and purchased a aircard for internet at home.
During that first week, though, without phone or internet to Steph, my 24/7 instant comm IV felt yanked from my veins. Once she got back online, my world order was restored.
After Steph and I Skyped, I thought about our astronauts living on top of the world for six months at a time. Technology allows them to video chat with family, just like I did with Steph. Technology connects us — on and off the planet. I, for one, am thankful I can reach my daughter in a moment through e-mail or text messages or Skype video calls.
I can’t imagine surviving on smoke signals and carrier pigeons.
Think about early explorers. They left home to discover new lands, never knowing if they would ever return or see family and friends again. Many left behind only silence and unanswered questions.
Missionaries Hudson Taylor and Lottie Moon traveled across the world to China in the late 1800’s. While we packed Steph for Africa, I kept thinking about Lottie Moon — a very tiny woman who traveled alone to a land where she knew no one nor spoke the language. I can’t begin to imagine the courage and faith it took for her to say goodbye to her family (perhaps forever) and step on the boat for a journey of many months across angry seas.
Steph, by contrast, is only 18 hours away by plane, and a click away on Facebook. Whew!
Technology puts it all in perspective, really. The same technology that shrinks the distance between us, also reveals the great divide between Earth and other planets in our universe. It connects us with each other, yet isolates us with the knowledge that we humans are alone as far as Hubble’s eyes can see.
Technology allows you to connect with Steph too. You can follow her South African journey at Steph Beck’s Blog.