The trail is the thing, not the end of the trail. Travel too fast and you miss all you are traveling for.Louis L’Amour
Lately, I have been reminiscing on my travels abroad; the places that have impressed me and the people who have touched my heart in more ways than I could ever mention. When I was in South Korea about six months ago, a friend asked me how many countries I had visited. I honestly had to go back to a list I keep on my phone because I could not recall all the wonderful places I have traveled to, by the grace of God. “Twenty-eight countries!” I said nonchalant. But then it dawned on me that I have actually been to that many places — and some of them more than once.
I used to tell my Abante colleagues that traveling is not as difficult as people may think. I would often say, “When you get out there, you realize that although the world is big, it isn’t as big as you had imagined.” That truth became evident to me one day as I was driving in New Zealand and suddenly realized that I was driving on the opposite side of the road, on the opposite side of the vehicle, in a country that was not my own, and yet I was grocery shopping and running errands like a local. The second time I felt that way was while I was driving to the home I was renting in South Korea. I was not even using the GPS anymore because I had become familiar with the neighborhood and was driving all over the country — even though I did not speak the language!
It is exciting to look back and see where I have been for many reasons –one of them being the memories of beautiful, inspiring, and sometimes difficult encounters with the various cultures I have had the privilege of engaging with. Planting, teaching, cooking, cleaning, and painting, among other things, placed me in a position to learn about each individual I was serving and “doing life with” at the moment. Was it all joy? Absolutely not! There were many tears, and much stress and frustration — especially where the language barrier hindered efficient communication. Nevertheless, joy was always present, even in the challenging moments. I have learned that humility and kindness go a long way when you are willing to make them a big part of your mission, call, and life.
The late Antony Bourdain once said,
How about you? Do you recall your travel experiences? I have collected many stories, and I would love to hear some of yours. In your travels, what have you taken with you and what have you left behind?