Well that’s new…

Well that’s new…

So India. This place is crazy! There is so much going on that sometimes I find that if I don’t just put my head down and ignore my surroundings for a minute, I might have to develop multiple personalities in order to deal with it. However, at the same time if I keep my head down for too long I WILL get hit by a bus. That is true, I was nearly hit by a bus today, and it was terrifying. I apologize for the delayed nature of this post, I have been finding it somewhat difficult to find reliable sources of internet access. (Related: I am thinking about getting a portable wifi hotspot, does anyone have experience with them and if so, good or bad? Comments are appreciated!) And in all reality, I have had no idea what to write about, and let’s be real I still don’t really. But I figured that maybe if I just throw my hands toward my keyboard in a hopeful fashion something good may come out. Maybe that’s how the Twilight series was written? Anyway, India, living here has been incredible, hard, gross, amazing, fulfilling, and challenging. And I have only been here for three weeks! Everyday holds a new experience and gives me the opportunity to learn and grow, but it also gives me the opportunity to be closed minded and be negative towards the culture and the people. There is a choice to make everyday of whether I am going to choose to embrace all that God is teaching me through people and culture, or whether I am going to neglect this and try to remain in my own world. Every time I use my flip flop to heartlessly murder an enormous cockroach (a battle that I am winning by 16-0 kill/death ratio by the way) I have to ask myself if I am going to hold this as mark against living here, or if I am going to see the humour in it and learn that ADDA flip flops are the best for this task. Every time I go into a public bathroom and I am greated by the sight of a soaking wet and slippery toilet seat, I am confronted with the choice to hate it, or think about how going to the bathroom normally is rather boring and not knowing if you are going to slip off the toilet and break something mid-movement is quite exciting and really enhances your bathroom experience! Or how about when the guy on the train decides that he wants to practice his MMA skills and decides to throw an elbow directly into my sternum, should I get physical with him and say that he is a problem, or should I maybe realize that everyone on this train just wants to get home/to work/to their friends house, and maybe even that when he becomes the UFC Welterweight champion I can say that he practiced his wicked elbow-to-the-chest move on me first. Constantly there are experiences that cause a confrontation within me. Am I going to curse the smell that, after steeping in the humidity all day, can only be described as “funky”, or think about how amazing the view of the rice fields and palm trees was as I rode through the countryside on the back of a motorbike? Am I going to sit at the back of the church with my arms crossed and repeatedly tell myself that charismatic worship is not what I believe in theologically, and therefore will not take part in it, or will I join in and appreciate the fact that we are all part of One Body, and God has created diversity within the body. I must admit that I am guilty of the former. The thing is each day, whether you live in India, Canada, America, Barbados, Mozambique, or Fiji, we are faced with challenges and they each present a confrontation between our own ideals of how we think life should be and what life is. We want our lives to be cockroach, wet toilet seat, and funky smell free but, in reality they are not! And I am glad they are not because, life would be boring if we always knew what was coming up and we wouldn’t learn anything from that. The age old saying that “Familiarity breeds contempt” comes to mind. The thing that makes life so awesome wherever you are, is the unexpected, the challenge, the new experience, and I think that we, me especially, miss out on things because I expect life to fit in a box. I don’t think that’s how God designed life to work. When I look at the Bible, and more specifically the message of the Gospel, I see that it was full of unexpected lessons and experiences. People didn’t expect that Jesus was going to come as a baby in a manger, I mean they should have based on the prophecy, but they didn’t! They didn’t expect Him to be a humble carpenter, they didn’t expect Him to die. How could the Saviour of the World die? The disciples didn’t expect to see Him again but they did. The Bible is chalked full of examples of God using the unexpected experiences of life to teach, affirm, and build people and groups up. I guess what I am trying to say is that I think that God shows us a lot through the things we go through and we have a choice to make. Are we going to be open and willing to learn from the challenges and experiences that we have, or will we choose to close ourselves off to them because they don’t fit in our category of what life should be like?

As always, these are just some thoughts that I am processing and I do not mean to accuse anyone by this. Thanks for readin! (And for real with the wifi thing, comments are appreciated!)

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So you want to travel?

So you want to travel?

         So travel? The great adventure! Seeing the world, expanding your horizons, opening you mind, educating yourself, being spontaneous! Travel is one of the most envied hobbies in our world today. Scrolling through Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, or (insert social media platform here) you are bombarded by ads, posts, or pictures, of exotic frontiers somehwere far away from wherever you are it seems. Travel is a promised rush, a guaranteed adventure, and a new experience in many aspects. The food, the culture, the dress, the language, the people, the art, the societal structure, the politics, the infrastructure, whatever your shtick is, travel is sure to strike a cord with you in one respect or another. However, travel is not always sunshine, lolipops, and unicorn farts (they are supposed to be rainbows, or candy, or something). Sometimes, it’s rain, chicken cartilidge, and diarrhea in the most uncomfortable places. Travel can WILL be one of the most amazing things you will ever do in your life. It will be amazing in ways that you didn’t expect, and you will learn more and more, the more you do it, and think about it. But, you will also find that travelling can be a very hard thing as well. Culture shock is real! Poverty around the world is nothing like what most of us experience in North America, or most of the western world. There are sicknesses that occur when travelling that can make life somewhat comparable to the human version of a busted fire hydrant, and above all travelling can be downright exhausting! The purpose of this post is not to discourage people from travelling at all! Travelling has been, and is continuing to be, a key contibutor to some of the most interesting and valuable experiencs that I am happy to say I have had. But rather, the purpose of this is to give you a heads up that it can be difficult as well. So I have decided to mention some key things I have found to be important, from practical physical supplies, to emotion, and spiritual, preparedness.

1) EMERGENCY BATHROOM KIT

I have found this to be an essential, ESSENTIAL, part of any travellers kit! Include in here toilet paper, sanitizer, wet wipes (for the more luxurious people out there), pocket bible – trust me, and a spare pair, if you know what I mean. You may ask why the bible? Well, there is a thing called traveller’s diarrhea which we all prepare for, but it’s little known evil twin, traveller’s constipation (I made that up), may strike at any time! And what better way to spend many minutes in the ol’ restroom than reading God’s word? Bring this kit with you everywhere, or you may have to use a rock in the mountains in Central Asia and things may get very, very ugly.

2) GOOD SHOES

I feel like my mom right now. But, if you plan on doing a lot of walking, or even if you don’t, bring shoes that have great support. You never know what opportunities may present themselves and you don’t want to hike The Great Wall of China in Vans. Trust me. Don’t limit yourself with bad shoes!

3) LONG PANTS

Why long pants? Well, you can’t go naked. And also, most of the world (at least Asia) doesn’t really do the whole shorts thing. Pants are especially important if you will be doing any ministry work. Making yourself stand out to the people you are trying to build relationships with can make them feel uncomfortable. With long pants comes long sleeves. Sometimes, things like tattoos, or just arms in general, need to be covered up. It’s better to be able to roll them up if that’s appropriate than to be stuck looking foolish and promiscuious with short sleeves.

4) PRAYER LIFE

This one is really geared toward my Christian friends, but feel free to consider this point anyway! Through travelling I have experienced some of the toughest challenges to my faith yet, and I expect there to be many more. I really believe that this is due to the nature of my trip, but all the same, there are many other religions around the world. And, coming into contact with these religions can and will open you up to some tests, and challenges. However, God is still God over that, and when we don’t, and can’t, understand what is going on around us all we can do is pray. I have really relied on prayer to get me through a lot of challenges that I am facing, and during extended trips, this will be a lifeline! Do not under estimate the importance of this!

5) THOUGHTFUL PROCESSING

This is kind of an obscure tip, but it is important. Travelling through some of the more impoverished parts of the world (and still more to come). I have learned a lot about life, some things about simplicity, some things about joy, some things about suffering. All these things have come through taking time to process what I have seen. Sometimes, when we see poverty constantly, we can become blind and numb to the reality that lies before us. I urge you to take time to think about what you are seeing, experiencing, and feeling. This will make travelling a much more valuable experience, and may open your eyes to new ideas and perspectives. As a Christian I think this is really important in order to understand what God is really doing and how we understand who He is.

6) THE ABILITY TO BE FLEXIBLE

This is important. Plans change, you get tired, you want to do something else, it’s okay! I think most people are okay with the fact that things out of their control change sometimes, but I think that things in our control are hard to be flexible with. At least for me. Sometimes, we want to experience the place that we are in so much that we go, go, go, see, see, see, eat, eat, eat, do, do, do, ourselves into exhaustion and we end up not really enjoying our time. (Did anyone laugh at the do, do, do part? I did.) Make a list of MUST DOS and WANT TO DOS, do the must dos and make it okay for you not to do the want to dos. Sometimes, a day of chilling at your hotel, hostel, host home, or tent, is just as much of a good memory as seeing  the next cool tourist attraction!

I hope you have enjoyed reading this! This is not even close to an exhaustive list, but just some things I have learned so far!

GlobeTREK update: I am in India for my 6-months now! It is a crazy place with lots of new and interesting things! Everyone else on the team is safely in their 6-month locations as well. If you would like to donate to Globetrek you can visit the Donations page on my blog or click this link, Praire Donations, in order to go directly to the donations page. Thanks for reading!