Looking Back, Looking Forward
Trip Start Sep 11, 2005
51Trip End Dec 13, 2005
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We made it home. I thought that when we got here I would quickly want to write again and share all the insights we have gained from the trip. That did not happen. I realize that the process of deciphering all we have experienced will most likely take a very long time.
I am not sure what I hoped to experience as I got off the plane into the USA. Everyone expected us to be excited about making it back home. I even thought that would be the case. Somehow that didn't happen. Being in America makes me appreciate the rest of the world even more. I love America deeply, but can't begin to explain how grateful I am that I can now see it with a new backdrop. America is one handful of pieces in a large puzzle. It is nice to be able to understand it from a broader perspective.
One of the frequent questions we are given is, what is the best place we visited? It is hard to identify one place as being greater than the rest. I kind of look at it from the view of a teacher. I could not say the best student I have ever taught. Each one is unique and has outstanding characteristics. That is also true for each place we visited on our journey. Although some stand out in our mind, just like I have some very special students I have taught, I am grateful for all of them. Somehow they all impacted me.
I also expected that as I came home I would be eager to get all the pictures organized to share with my friends and family. That hasn't been the case. Instead it seems I have tucked the trip into a corner of my heart, but it has spread out to encompass much more space that I originally intended. It is impacting my thoughts, my dreams, and my views of society. I know that it will continue to do that in the days to come. As much as I want to share, I don't really know how to share it. So I keep it to myself and allow it to do it's work in my heart and my mind.
It seems I need some kind of filter to help me share this experience. Maybe that would help me determine which pictures to choose out of the 2000 we snapped. As we look at them and try to determine the best, we find ourselves taken back wondering how can we do it again. How do we pull off another trip of a lifetime?
While we were gone, it seems many people were very worried about us. So many people have said that they prayed for us everyday. We thank everyone for their prayers. We certainly felt God's hand of protection on us and His continual guidance on each moment of the trip. He pulled us to Him in a comforting and remarkable way. We will not forget the way we encountered God on this trip.
I did learn about the silliness of continual worry. I am one that tends to stress and heap my life with worry. Contrary to what God commands, it is something that I struggle with. It seems that worry was something that plagued many of our loved ones. I want you to know that the world is not nearly as scary as it seems. Not once did I experience true fear for our safety. Instead the world was a welcoming place which we were glad to wander.
For some stupid reason I have spent many years of my life being worried about the creepy people who are out to get me. I see them on the news everyday. The burglar who wants my stuff, the creepy stranger who wants my peace of mind, the person in a dark street corner who wants to approach me and hurt me, those people somehow lurked into my mind and haunted me. I expected them to come with us on our trip. I was leery that they were loitering nearby ready to pounce on my every move. That is what I had been told again and again. It simply is not the case.
I now realize that the world is not as scary as I have imagined it. Yes there are creepy people, but there are many more wonderful people. There are deranged folks that do stupid things, but why do I anticipate that they are out to get me? I guess there is possibility that someone will steal my wallet, my identity, my car. If they go through the effort to take it, they most likely need it more than I do. There is little I need in this life. We survived for three months with 2 pair of pants and four shirts. Needless to say, I have way more than I need. God reminds in the Bible, "If we have food and clothes, we will be content with that." I pray that contentment can build a fortress around me.
I am not denying the fact that luxuries are a wonderful thing. I love our computer and our fresh clothing and my tennis shoes. It is amazing that I can go to Wal-mart and they have anything that I could ever want or need. When I crawl into a comfy bed at night I smile, engulfed by the cozy warmth of home. As I sit in the hot tub I think, this is nice. And it is, so much of what we have is nice. I just don't want to forget that it is not necessary.
In the last week our focus and our goals for each day have dramatically changed. On our trip each day our challenge was to see as much of the world as we could, have fun along the way, and find temporary lodging in the mean time. We also wanted to seek God and His will for our lives. As we came home, I felt like I didn't know what to do. Part of me wanted to rush and call my friends and family, just because I could. Another part of me, just wanted to sit and stare, processing this journey of life. The processor took over. I kind of feel like the deer who is struck with the headlights. I am in a daze. Yet I know that in a few minutes the world will get back to normal. The problem I am facing is that I am not sure I want it to.
A dear friend recently said to me that is seems I had no trouble trusting God on a trip around the world. My struggle is trusting Him that He will take care of me in the day to day pursuits of life. That struck me hard and challenged me. If God can help Charlie and I find a place to sleep each night, eat each day, find the money to do it, and have an amazing time along the way, He can surely help us in the day to day. Somehow though, taking a trip around the world is easy, living life is a bit more challenging. Even still, I do want to live life with the same faith that encompassed me just last week while I was in Asia. God will take care of us no matter where we are.
The last chapter of our life back home was getting ready for our trip. We then had the chapter which included our incredible trip. I am having trouble turning the page. I think it is because the next chapter is unwritten. Charlie and I have the great privilege of writing the next chapter but I just have not yet mustered up the energy to write the rough draft. Oh, we have jumped into the pre-writing process. We have brainstormed, consulted others, made lists, pro and cons, strengths and weaknesses, appointments with possible employers, we have done it all. As we spread all the ideas out before us, it is just not fitting together to form the next chapter.
As a teacher I would tell my students to go ahead and start writing about something, and it will come to you. We can use your words to form the ideas for the next chapter. Well, we are working on that. In the mean time it seems we found ourselves on that blank page in between chapters. We have just finished a great chapter and know that ahead another one is ready to be written. We just need God to take our hand and lead us. We know He will.
Each day I spend time praying and pondering all that encompasses my life. Somehow I decided that I now have three goals, or ideas rather, which have become important to me. If I can do these, I know we will be okay. Charlie and I want to please God with our lives, be happy, and be able to support ourselves. Those are our daily challenges. Many people are eager for us to determine where we will work, or where we will live, I am even one of those people at times. I am realizing that what job I have is not of huge importance. Instead I need to ensure that I am pleasing God, finding contentment in each day, and able to take care of myself. I am lucky that I have Charlie to help me in this process. We know it will all work out and the next chapter will be written. Stay tuned for all that is ahead.