little travel lessons

I am home.

It smells like home, it looks like home. It feels like home. This place is exactly the same as it was when I left. After what seems like a lifetime of pure adventure, I am back in the same place again. Normal days have never been so lovely.

Already I have found myself in the same old backyard, under the same old trees, pondering the same old dreams. This sameness ( while comforting ) is presenting itself as a trap.

   “I’m different” I shout to myself. “I have changed!”

Now I must write down my thoughts ( a burst of NEWNESS) and hold on to it dearly. I have this thing about trips and change. It may not make sense, it may be unreasonable but it is true: I always feel that the entire business was a big waste of time unless I somehow come home a little bit different. So here goes – the things I’ve learned as told by my well used travel journal. Of course most of the important/juicy stuff has been edited out. Sorry guys ; )

I may not know anything; surely I’m no fountain of wisdom. But, this summer I’ve been halfway around the world, traveled off the mainland for the first time, experienced 12 time zones, enjoyed an amazing christian conference, met people from all over Europe, and drove (for my 15th and 16th time) across the country, this is

What I have Learned: 

1. My life belongs to the Lord. There is nothing else on this earth worth living for. God is really moving on the earth and I feel so privileged that I (less then the least) could give myself for His move.  I pray that all the wonderful things I heard and saw in the conference would not fade away. But rather, would become in me a clear controlling vision that would guide me the rest of my life.

2. Hawaii is not paradise – or maybe my idea of paradise is just really skewed. It is a place that pleases most people, but not all. I think you have to have the right disposition for it.

3. Happiness does not depend on where you are or what your circumstances look like. You could be in the most beautiful place in the world and still be miserable. Joy is less of an emotion and more of a decision.

4. The more places you go, the more places you miss. My heart is going to have to go through some major expansion surgery or something before I can travel again.
I’ve never missed so much before. I still miss all the places in America I’ve lived in before, I miss old friends from across the United States. I miss all the things I used to miss, in fact I miss them even more after being in new places so long. But now I also miss so much more – I miss the rolling Polish hills and crazy cab drivers. I miss the smell of the soup and the taste of the chocolate ( I really miss the chocolate).  I miss the surprise on the locals faces when I pronounce “dziehuje” correctly, I miss the locals. I miss the German’s cheery way of saying “halo” and I miss being laughed out for my pronunciation of “water.” But most of all, I miss the people.

When I looked at the globe before the trip, it was like staring into a fancy candy store. I couldn’t afford to go anywhere, but I wanted to try everything and I could only imagine the different “taste’s” and “flavors” I would someday enjoy.

Now, when I see a map, there is still room for such ponderings, there is still opportunity after opportunity staring me in the face: daring me, challenging me, to explore.

But now I also see faces. Where Russia used to sit – pink and cold and mysterious – I see the face of Anastasia. It is six hours later there, she must be coming home from school. I hope that her Spanish test went well.

 I remember the mischievous grin of Zalina – sitting around the dinner table sipping potato soup and munching on perogi. I remember her laugh as I tried to decipher her elaborate hand gestures. She didn’t speak English and I didn’t speak Russian. I never quite figured out what she said, but I think we both knew what we meant.

 Scanning the globe, I note the green box of Poland. I wonder which delicious scent fills the house of my host family tonight. I see the four little boys setting the table for dinner, always shyly avoiding their stranger guests as they finish their evening chores and head out to the front yard to laugh and talk about the day.

And somewhere in the middle of the ocean on a few tiny dots called Hawaii – I see a room full of faces. Each face is distinct and very different from all the others, but though their features are different they are all smiling, singing the same songs as they enjoy the same God.

In the house next door I see Margaret the caretaker running about. She runs into a room to care for a patient and then runs back to the kitchen just in time to save a pot of water from over-boiling. Plowing through another day with that same sense of pessimistic humor, never finding time to stop and complain.

 I must say traveling is difficult. But through all the “missing” in my heart I am glad. For all the grief of parting is worth it – every ounce. Because hello is worth the goodbye, since the eternal connections you make are worth the temporary separation.

5. Germany has the nicest bathrooms.

6. Knowing only one language is not acceptable.

7. Lava rock is not a good place to do yoga.

8. Bread should be fresh, hearty and full of seeds and nuts. Bread should not be 88% air and
come packaged from a factory.

9. Hershey’s chocolate is not acceptable. Grocery stores and gas stations should learn this lesson from Europe: no matter how small your store is, you must have chocolate options. At least three brands and 10 flavors.

10. There is no such thing as a “trash can” – we all throw our waste in rubbish bins.

11. America is very big. We have quite a unique country where diversity abounds. From the flat plains of Texas to the snowy farms of the Midwest, and from the mountains of Colorado to the rain forests of Oregon – it is very beautiful. Though I may complain once in a while that we don’t have enough sidewalks or chocolate – all in all I must admit that I am glad to be an American.
 (although I would gladly give up that status should the Lord ever choose to send me another way)

12. I think you know you’ve driven across the country one to many times when you recognize gas stations in the middle of the Mojave dessert and when random hotels in the depths of Arkansas seem vaguely familiar and when you could probably get yourself across the entire continent without ever looking at a map.

Yes that is a member of my team on top of that mountain.  As far as how he got there, I have no explanation –  except to say that he is from Switzerland. 

13. Listening to music and staring out the window dramatically is sufficient entertainment for an entire road trip no matter how long. Just don’t trust all the ideas you come up with while in that state of reverie – car thoughts can be dreadfully dramatic or just plain old quaky.

14. The best souvenirs are ones that have special meaning, can be worn, played with, eaten or have some otherwise slightly useful purpose. Those tiny trinkets ( though cool in context) look out of place and extraneous everywhere else.

15. The best adventures are always free and unplanned.

16. The Lord Jesus is really always there for us. He is really wise and he really does know what He is doing. Even when things get crazy and you don’t understand why things are happening a certain way, even when you cannot see through to the other side – you can trust Him. After walking through a tropical Hawaiian botanical garden, I realized how creative and amazing our Lord is – He really can think of anything, and I am sure He has a plan ( no matter how unique or amazing ) for all our teeny problems.

17. I absolutely love traveling.

I had to get that all out there.
Excuse the length and the unnecessary bits.
Excuse what my seem a bit overtly dramatic.
Out of my system so that I could move on.
Into my being so I can carry my lessons with me
for the rest of my life.

[ you know a blog post is way too long when you
feel the need to finish with …]
The End.

Author: Susanna

I'm Susanna, a 20-year-old Christian girl incorrigibly addicted spontaneous adventures. My first dream was to become a pioneer. Unfortunately, I was born a couple centuries late, so I've decided to read, cook, run, and travel the world until my time machine is finished. You'll mostly likely find me getting into trouble and/or eating licorice. I am currently blogging the misadventures of a middle-school teacher in training. Come join me on my quest to become the next Ms. Frizzle!

2 thoughts on “little travel lessons”

  1. oh my oh my oh my.
    susie. really.
    you have the most wonderful life.

    reading this made my soul itch for an adventure.
    it made me miss you oh so much.

    honestly there are 100 and 1 things i want to say.
    i especially agree with the music and staring out the window.
    that's all i did when we drove across the country. it was sublime.

    but anyway.
    text me.
    call me.

    i love you.


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