I’ve been thinking a lot lately about why I travel…
A climbing adventure in Idaho with my dad
I grew up in rural Idaho. My life consisted of school, sports, church, and farming. My family’s travels
were camping adventures and long road trips to see extended family. Even though we often traveled to the same places, I appreciated that my parents always found new things for us to experience – a new beach to explore, new rivers to fish, new roads to drive, new sports complexes to visit (thanks Dad!). In the reality of a life that was very simple and removed from much of the world, I found a love for travel and adventures.
For college I traveled 2,045 miles away from home, moving to what felt like a new culture within the same country. During college I had my first experience of international travel when I visited family working in Haiti. My experience in Haiti opened my eyes to a world I had only seen in pictures and did not quite believe existed until I saw it in person.
Being surrounded by the sight of slums, unknown smells, music that made my heart dance, unsafe conditions, a language I could not understand, and people who fed me the most delicious food when they had little to feed their own families gave me an incredible sense that I knew little about the world God created. I yearned to see more, to know more, and to be a part of it all!
Because of that trip to Haiti, I made a commitment to travel outside of the U.S. every two years. I have had some incredible experiences abroad with trips consisting of things like backpacking Europe with my brother, working in a children’s home in India, and being welcomed into community in Romania serving among the poorest of the poor. I have marveled at cathedrals, climbed among castle ruins, and watched World Cup games in a Scottish pub with the locals. I have celebrated weddings and births with people I don’t really know, cried on the streets of Mumbai as I watched kids begging for food they would probably never be allowed to eat, and learned that I can connect with people in any country through play and laughter.
Streets of a temple court in India
I travel because it challenges me to recognize there is a world beyond my own. I travel because I am reminded that there are different ways of doing things and those ways work, too. I travel because I find people and culture fascinating and I want to better understand them. I travel because I crave adventure and new places and incredible food. I travel because I want to serve people, to show Christ’s love to all I come in contact with. I travel to gain perspective and expand my worldview. I travel because I am continually reminded of how wide, long, high and deep the love of God is when I interact with God’s creation all over the world.
So lately, I’ve been thinking about traveling…and about how my idea of traveling isn’t in my near future…and that traveling might have to look differently for me during this stage of my life.
I’ve been wondering about what traveling looks like for me within my local community, in my current circumstances. How can I “travel” and place myself in situations to better understand people, gain perspective, and serve people? If I travel because it challenges me to recognize a world beyond my own then I can experience that by traveling about 12 blocks from my house, into a part of town a lot of people wouldn’t choose to hang out in. I started helping at a homework club for kids on Monday nights, which places me in a setting where I don’t always understand the language being spoken around me. I travel outside the comfort of my own worldview each time I sit with people and listen to their stories, knowing I may not agree with them on everything yet undoubtedly recognizing God’s movement in their lives.
So, I’ve been discovering ways to travel at home. Travel that can bring the same challenge, growth, expansion, perspective, and adventure that happens when I leave the U.S. Travel that takes me into the lives of people I may not naturally come in contact with in my present setting unless I intentionally place myself there. I’m being challenged to look at the needs of people closest to me and to work to meet those needs. And, I am being reminded of how wide, long, high and deep the love of God is.
What does travel look like in your life?