In 1998 our family planned a visit to Egypt to visit friends. In August of 2008 there was a bombing at the US Embassy in Kenya. People started questioning our plan to travel. I remember asking my friend and she said, "if it was too dangerous for you to come, my parents would tell you to reschedule your vacation for a different time. We want you to visit, but not at the risk of your safety." We went on our trip and had a great time. (interesting fact: the distance between Cairo and Nairobi is 2100 miles)
In February of 2009 I had a trip planned to Thailand. In November of 2008 there were protests in Bangkok that closed the international airport. My boss asked if I was still planning to travel. I contacted the organization that I was traveling with and asked what would happen if there was unrest at the time of my trip. They let me know that I could reschedule my trip to Thailand or go to another country over the same dates. Thailand was another life-changing experience.
I want to travel to as many places as possible. I don't want to risk my safety, but am not willing to contain my travels to percieved "safe" places, like western Europe. Or Canada. Recently a co-worker said that the reason that I get along so well with everyone at our hotel, an extremely diverse and international workforce, is because I have traveled and experienced different cultures. I hope so. I am fascinated by all the world offers, culture, languages, food, games, natural wonders and people.
I am currently reading The Irresistible Revolution by Shane Clairborne. One of our pastors referenced it in a sermon a few weeks ago. It is a fascinating read about being an "ordinary radical." The author, and his friends, are trying to live as Jesus would want: clothing the naked, housing the homeless, feeding the hungry and serving the "least of these." There is a lot of focus on getting out of your comfort zone or your safe life. For example, actually inviting people into your home to feed them, rather than donating money to a soup kitchen that you've never been in . The author was interested in the work that Mother Theresa was doing in Calcutta and he finally called India and asked if he could visit. She said "come." Apparantly she told anyone who asked about her work to "Come and see." What an invitation!
The passage that our pastor referenced was about safety, which happened to be a timely topic. The author had gone to Iraq on a peace mission. When he returned someone questioned "How could you be so careless with your life...?" I hope that I am living deliberately, not carelessly. God has a plan for my life. So far, I feel that travel is an integral part of it. Three months from today our mission team of 50 youth and 12 sponsors will have just returned from Guatemala. Sixty-two lives in Denver will have been changed for the better because of service, love and understanding. And we will be a part of the story in Guatemala. It's worth it.