It was my second day in Springfield, Illinois. After having a delicious lunch at my Executive Editor's amazing house, I was sitting in front of my computer screen. I had almost talked to every important person who needs to know about my whereabouts and routines in this new place. I was visiting United States as a visiting scholar on a US-Pakistan Journalism Exchange Program.

After nearly 3 hours, it was starting to get boring, and instead of talking to my family back at home, I started missing them all over again. It was that moment when a sudden thought came to my mind, I changed my clothes, put on the most comfortable pair of jeans and shirt – a favourite, of one of my best friends’ – borrowed a map from my front desk guy, asked for the directions and started to roll.

I walked in pursuit of a lake presumably near my hotel. But, being bad at directions, I accidently took the opposite direction. After taking nearly a hundred steps, I bumped into a motorized tricycle ridden by a gracefully aged couple who were in their 80s. Being curious, I requested them about its specifications and model. It was a 2003 tricycle, maroon and shiny. I could not resist but to sit on top of it and have myself photographed.

We took our way and walked through the sidewalks of this extremely wide express way all the way up to Route 66. There were some amazing bars and restaurants over there but I stuck to my aim of reaching the malls. I kept on walking the beautiful houses on either sides of the road with many of them having American flags hoisted on top of their outer walls. I must say that Americans have an excellent taste in decorating the exteriors of their houses. They had amazing sculptures of babies playing violins, dogs, cats, deer, ducks and many other decorative drafts placed at their doorways and entrances.

I stopped by a house which gave the most amazing view among the lot. It had a swing hung right in front of it, with beautiful vases, flowers, sculptures and an elementary fountain. I sat there for a while and then proceeded on my quest. Every now and then I could hear a dog bark or a cat meow, assuming that they must be well trained as they don't just attempt to attack someone passing by and mind their own business.

Busy in my thoughts, I saw a dog running towards me. His earsplitting bark threw a shrill down spine. I ran in the opposite direction, shouting 'mama, mama'. I tried to stop a car but it did not stop. I turned back to see if the dog was at a safe distance and to my relief it was. It was behind the fence of a house. This episode almost most gave me heart attack. Now, I was petrified. Even the slightest noise struck me sharply. My breath was heavy due to running and I was blankly walking down the road. There was still no sign of the promised shopping mall.

Loneliness was looming over me. I was sort of cursing my coordinator on sending me to this place. I was unhappy on my decision of getting out of the hotel in the first place. Suddenly, a voice captured my attention. It was singing; like an opera, somewhat. I walked and after a further five steps there stood Emanuel Temple Church of God, from where all that sound was coming. I entered the vicinity.

There was no one at the gate to scan me for security. I entered, and on the left there was a hall. I went inside. There were people. All were wearing black except one, who was a kid. A woman on the podium was preaching and reciting some verses from the Torah. On seeing me, some people passed me smiles and again started listening to her. They were now absorbed and the sermon was picking its pace. It was getting louder, it was getting emotional and, resultantly, the people were spiritually elated. Now they were singing with the woman. They were moving and shaking slowly. Some of them were even crying. And on that high note, the sermon ended. Meanwhile I was taking pictures and making videos of the event. It was extremely unusual to experience such an attachment with God, thousands of miles away from home, in a supposedly godless land.

Though one question still confuses me: was it the dog who chased me, I who chased the car for help, or the mall for shopping or the lake for peace? Or was it God who followed me everywhere I went to protect me from all evils? Or it was it just… myself chasing myself in an internal struggle.