Travel. I have so many memories of traveling, and of all the things I long to do in my future (or next weekend), travel tops the list. I love experiencing new places, meeting new people, trying new food and walking through a city and getting lost (except when I end up in dodgy neighborhoods with swarthy men and have to hail a taxi).
Some of my best memories are from trips I’ve taken.
I sat once at Angkor Watt, my legs dangling over the moat, waiting on the sunrise. A little girl came walking out of the jungle (literally) and asked if I wanted breakfast. I nodded – of course. She came back a few minutes later, her bare feet nimbly making their way down the dirt path, carrying a tray of freshly brewed French press coffee, a hot-from-the-oven baguette and a bowl of jam. I sat drinking coffee, eating bread and jam and watching the sun come up just behind that beautiful, crumbling temple.
I visited a student’s home in rural China, after two bus rides, a taxi ride, a motorcycle ride and finally crossing a river by foot. The home didn’t have running water, so each morning, the family would set up a washing station for me in the kitchen with a bucket of boiled water, a toothbrush and a washcloth. They would all gather round me and watch me wash my face and brush my teeth, and my heart ached each morning by how earnest they were to make me comfortable and how welcome I felt in their home.
My happiest memories of my children include being at the beach in San Diego, with a picnic of foods we got from Trader Joe’s. I’d sit with a glass of wine and watch the sun set on the horizon while my kids ran along the edge of the water, reaching down to catch the waves, running after each other – not a technology screen, phone or computer in sight.
Some of my worst memories are also from the trips I’ve taken.
I was once stranded overnight in Poipet, Cambodia, which is a place nobody wants to be stranded. I gave some food to a child who was begging, who had his little baby brother in a sling across his bare chest. When he gave his brother the food (which he chewed in his mouth and fed to the baby with a straw), the baby began shaking and writhing, begging for more.
My children fought so much during a car ride home from a ‘vacation’ in Las Vegas, that nobody was speaking to each other after a few hours and I cried in the bathroom of a McDonald’s, where we stopped for dinner.
I cherish all of the memories, good and bad, and am grateful to have seen a bit of the world, a lot of my own country and plenty of back roads and ocean views.
This month, we hear from a missionary who combines her passion for ministry with helping those in need across the globe (p 42), learn how we can travel even with chronic health issues (p 30), get on board with the adventure and convenience of traveling by train (p 36) and learn how the French truly experience chocolate right here in Sanford, NC (p 46).
From all of it, the good and the difficult, I’ve learned what Gustav Flaubert best summed up in saying, “Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.”