(From September 13th, 2014 - during our trip through Europe, on our way to Harvest School in Africa)
I’m writing on a train on the way to Genova – quick stop of a few stops on our way to Portofino for the night. John just looked over to me and smiled, “Well, we are definitely living up to our name of wayfarers!”
To be honest, when I came up with that name, I was sitting on the couch looking at a TOMS magazine with some inspiring, trendy photos of a guy on a cliff with some great shoes, and the word “Vagabond” written across the page. I thought that was a fitting idea, an accurate representation of the feeling of this particular venture we would at that time be going on in a matter of days. So I looked at the thesaurus and Wayfarers it was.
I believe God works even in the most unceremious of events.
Right now we are curving and hugging the coastline of Italy, fresh out of France. There are cliffs scattered with pastel stone villas plunging headlong into the bright, blue-green water of the Mediterranean. This is my first time seeing the Mediterranean, and it is stunning. I can’t help but think of Jesus. We swam in it yesterday, a much-needed scramble to the nearest beach and a desperate, wild dive in. Clearest water, extra bouyant, stone bottom, sailboats and yachts and that familiar feeling of a tiny harbor town.
The days go by quickly and sleep has seemed like a blink between days full of extremes. Extreme stress and frustration, quickly followed by the realization that anger or full-on breakdown won’t do a thing for the situation, followed by complete admittance of weakness. My song has been, “I have nothing but weakness!” It turns from a frustrated angry cry to a yelp of victory!
A few quick reasons for the whole frustration/anger/weakness thing – public transportation in a foreign country, the heavy weight of bags and not ever really knowing where you are, the knowledge of the next day where there will be more trains and buses and walking and figuring out stopovers. This is the unglamorous side of travel. It is also the really real, good side. The side that makes seeing lots of the world possible. It’s the part of travel that makes you stronger, that makes you trust more, that makes you realize, again and again, that you are not in control.
Here is a quote @natclo (of the band Joseph) recently posted from her friend @juliejean – a very honest, fitting insight into the reality of travel that i took great comfort in and gave a resounding, fist-pumped “YES!” to:
“Here is the thing about traveling. No one is really good at it. It’s all a ruse. People look good at it, and maybe, with practice, they can become good at feeling like a freshman all the time. My belief is that everyone is scared to be in a new place, and the people who are good travelers are the ones who push through the fear and eventually learn to adapt and grow from the rush of figuring something out against the odds of foreign spaces and faces.”
“People come back different when they go to a new place, not because they saw cool buildings or ate good food, but because they were faced with the insecurity, terror, and unpredictability and they rose to the occasion. That’s why I’m drawn to traveling. It makes you brave. And anyone who isn’t a little scared is lying.”
And every day there are these extremes of happiness, joy, wonder, taking in magnitutde, history, beauty. We have seen quiet downs of the English countryside, where the land goes warm-gray and completely peaceful and quiet at 8pm and wakes up with a hot cup of tea and proper breakfast. We got a breathtaking aerial view of Paris and the Eiffel Tower standing its dignified, regal ground, causing the admiration of millions each year. We played light-up frisbee in front of it, while it sparkled in the dim, mild night. The weather has been incredible – 70’s, not a drop of rain. We have had our fill of fresh baguettes and cheese and chocolate croissants (these are the lands of bread and cheese!) We stood, mouth agape and laughing as we finally made it to a tiny provencial village in France where limestone mountain faces cradle in a stunning, clearest clear river which majestically surges up straight out of the bellies of the earth. Castles, towers, footpaths, ancient works of art, and God’s most desired treasure – the people of the earth.
(To Heather on the plane, if you are reading this, I think you are amazing. I know God put us on the plane together to be his voice of comfort to each other. Your life is the fragrant aroma of Jesus, and he is so pleased with you! He is overjoyed with your obedience.
To our Aussie friends, Glenn & Carolin from Fontaine, thank you for your warm smiles. John and I walked away feeling so comforted by your smiles and your conversation. So happy to have shared a few moments with you. We bless you in Jesus name!
To Giorgio on the train, thank you for looking out for us, for your thoughtful conversation, and hosting us to a quick and delicious focaccia pizza in Genova. We bless you and thank you. Please let us know next time you are in the states!!)
So each day has been filled, whiplashing from extreme to extreme, and we make our way closer to Africa, seeing lands along the way, resting our heads in lovely, strange places. For a girl like me – who loves taking a slow pace, a savorer, a romantic – these days are hard phsyically and emotionally. Draining, and then so filling. Drained and filled and drained and filled. I know He is preparing us for that empty-vessel life He longs for us all to have.
It all only makes me more hungry for Jesus, His love, His healing, his Heaven, which encompasses these most mysterious and awe-inspiring parts of this earth – sanctified, complete, whole – and then some.
We are trying to complete some of our pre-Harvest School reading and training along the way, which has been pretty challenging but not impossible. We may or may not have fallen asleep during a few videos but I know God’s truths are paving an important path to prepare us for life and school. We are both looking forward to sitting still in our little cabin home in Johannesburg with our schoolmates and teachers for a while, to making new friends and working alongside others.
In the words of our other Aussie friend who swam and chatted with us in Villefranche sur Mer yesterday (she looked like Olivia Newton-John), “Feel the fear and do it anyway!”
At every crossroads where there has been fear and a temptation for a way out or way around, God has whispered, “Go through.”
At the end of every dark tunnel is blinding light.
At the end of every long, frightening night is the break of dawn.
Birthing pangs seem impossible except for the joy that is set before you – a new, breathing, pulsing life.