Published: May 14th 2008
May 14th 2008
Two years ago I spread my wings and left my worries behind. I began to paint brushstrokes of culture and experience onto the canvas of my life, because I believe our lives should be an adventure and not a routine. I decided then that I wasn’t going to waste another minute nor take it for granted, because you never know when it’s your last. Ever since I can remember, I’ve wanted to see the world, not as a tourist but as a traveler. For a tourist’s experience is normally confined to a schedule, prearranged, comfortable, and they usually only see what they came to see. But a traveler, he or she explores a culture from within, embraces the journey, and takes on a life of spontaneity and adventure. That was my dream that I soon made a reality. I finally embraced that desire and it changed my life.
Traveling abroad has been an eye and heart opening experience, which will leave a mark on my life forever. I’ve learned so much about the world and its diverse cultures, religions and lifestyles. I’ve had the sight of poverty rip my heart from my chest, but then I’ve had the healing smile
of children place it back. I’ve shed tears and shared laughs. And I’ve nearly ripped the head off of numerous taxi drivers…in a nice way of course. I’ve felt God’s presence beside me, as if eager and excited to show me more of his creation. At the same time, He has shown me the dark side of humanity and instilled a desire in me to make a difference; nothing earth-shattering, but simply a helping hand to as many as possible.
I’ve returned home a different person…with some grey hairs and less meat on my bones of course, but also much more aware of the world around me and the person inside. I left home two years ago a confused man in search of answers and purpose in his life, and I’ve returned home just days ago - jobless, broke, in flip flops and worn out jeans, without a girlfriend, needing a shower and shave, and a thorough doctor’s examination, but totally content and unworried about the future. I still don’t know exactly what I’m going to do with my life or what I’ll be doing a week from today…so somebody give me a freakin’ job! I’m kidding of course,
I’ve decided to retire from my laborious past and write poetry for a living.
I must apologize for my inability to be serious at the moment. I’m beginning to experience travel withdrawal. I must warn you all up front; I’ve been outside of the U.S. for a little over sixteen months out of the last two years, so it may take me a while to regain my normalcy (or how I used to act - which I can’t say was exactly normal). I’ve been on my own for a long time now and I have a tendency to talk to myself…I think…so don’t let that startle you if we’re hanging out and I start rambling nonsense to myself and throwing high-fives to the air. Also, if we happen to go out to eat at a restaurant together or possibly to your home for dinner, please remind me to use the silverware because I still have a tendency to use my bare hands. Oh yeah, and the spitting…that’s another terrible habit I’m trying to rid myself (thank the Chinese), along with relentless bartering on any purchase, chaotic driving, wearing turbans, holding men’s hands (don’t let it freak you out guys),
and occasionally trying to eat bugs. Please just ignore my strange behavior and know that I’m working on it.
One thing is for certain; the longer you are away, the more you appreciate the things and people you’ve left behind. Never again will I take things for granted, because I now have a reminder forever burned in my memory. Along the way, I had the pleasure of witnessing the marvels of God’s creation; from the magnificent mountain ranges to the precious smile on a child’s face. I cannot truly express what I’ve seen through pictures, for the true beauty and hardships are that which no picture can capture. “Certainly, travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.”
On this most recent trip, I visited 27 countries in 8 months and I can now say that I’ve been to 48 countries to date and can speak around 15 languages (well, at least one word of each), but do those numbers really matter? One thing I learned after zipping through 11 countries in Europe in roughly two weeks, is that quantity is far less important
than quality. The areas of the world that I cherish the most are the ones I spent the most time in and whose culture I really got to experience. In the future, I hope to spend more quality time in a country, rather than trying to squeeze in more quantity.
Some people have recently asked me where I plan to travel next. I have to be honest and say that a long, multi-country trip like the one I just finished is probably not going to happen. Don’t get me wrong, it was absolutely amazing and I wouldn’t have changed a single thing, but I’m flat worn out. I will definitely continue to travel throughout the world as long as I am capable, but I want to focus my time on really getting to know a country. I have gotten a mixture of what the world has to offer and now I’d like spend more time learning about particular countries and cultures.
Many have questioned what I’m going to do now that my travels are over and I tell them this…”Leave me alone! Who do you think you are my mother? And as for you Mom, quit beating at
my door telling me to get a job. I’m writing my poetry!” But seriously, I never thought that working with orphans would have such a great impact on my heart. Even if I decide to get back into the American Rat Race (which I seriously doubt I’ll do), I will always do what I can financially and physically to help orphans and those less fortunate. I’ll never forget the children of Into Abba’s Arms and will always keep up with them and visit when I can. On May 30th, Chad and Cayce Wagner are hosting a fundraiser for IAA and Women For Women at their home in Raleigh, North Carolina (w/ a musical performance by Matt Stillwell). I will be speaking and showing pictures at the event to give a better understanding of what I saw and learned in Kenya. If you are interested in coming or donating, please let me or the Wagners know.
Now it is time to wrap up my Around-the-World adventure…please don’t cry…I’m sure you’ll hear from me again. I have posted a collection of my favorite pictures from around the globe. I hope you enjoy. Let me finish by thanking God for this opportunity
that He has given me and thank you all for your support. I hope to see you soon and catch up. Farewell for now…but not forever...adios, kwaheri, nameste, au revoir, salaama, shalom, baat, sawatdi, tam biet, paka paka, chao, doei, zai hui, tchau and goodbye.
There are more photos below