T-1 day until I’m back in the air
Foreign word of the day:
Albanian: remember//mbaj mend
People and places have value, no matter how big, no matter how small, no matter how beaten up, and no matter how quickly befriended and left again.
After two weeks on the road travelling through countries that barely crossed my mind beforehand I’ve learned a lot. Croatia, Montenegro, Albania, Greece, Macedonia, Serbia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina. They may be small nations, but they hold a big place in my heart. Each of these places had something special about them; they are rich in culture and tradition and their people are kind despite the trials their nation has been through. Driving through the countryside and seeing the small houses peppering the grand mountains of the Balkans was not only beautiful, but it reminded me that no matter how small or far away a place may be it matters just as much as the people and places near to us.
Travelling to 7 countries in 14 days can feel rushed at times, but when I learned to take time simply wandering the cobblestone streets of the old cities, climbing up fortresses, and sipping cold drinks (like rose juice!) in the hot sun I was able to simply be present in the places I was; rather than rush from sight to museum to church to monument to exhibit and on and on. Places and people deserve to be appreciated—we all desire connection, relationship, and appreciation from others. Going “off the beaten track” reminded me of this truth.
You see, the title for this post is a bit backwards for what I’m trying to tell you. “Another Day, Another Country” can come off as flippant or sarcastic in a way—and this is exactly the approach we ought not to have—especially when we travel to places that people often forget about or neglect. The people and places we meet each day in each place we visit are worth our time and appreciation. No matter how long we stay somewhere, respect for the people and culture we encounter should be automatic. Try new foods, learn some of the language, and be willing to learn.
As we journey through life with Christ—the greatest adventure partner—He reminds us to not rush through life and miss out on all the seemingly small places and experiences. I never imagined I would take a 15 minute cable car ride up a mountain in Albania, I never imagined I would watch the sunrise over the acropolis, I never imagined I would swim in the cool waters of the Adriatic Sea—but I did. These are the small moments and experiences that I never would’ve had if I didn’t take a risk and jump on a bus with 30 strangers who soon became amazing friends. There are countless other big cities and sights to see, but sometimes, and oftentimes, it’s worth it to take the less flashy road and to appreciate the walk down it.
Visiting places for only a couple days can make it easy for each place to blend with another and for the activities of the past two weeks to get all mixed up. But let us be challenged to find something special—something unique—about each day and in each place you find yourself. Sometimes the places God brings us throughout our lives don’t make sense right away or even after a while, but they all have a purpose, and they are worth the time and energy to learn about and experience. They may be different or seem a bit backwards from what you’re used to, but it simply makes the journey that much more exciting.
The world is filled with places we have yet to discover and experiences we’ve never imagined. Hand in hand with Christ let’s go find them.