“How was your trip?”
That’s what I’m often asked these days because we travel a lot.
Baboons and Inca ruins stamped my memory. And sounds of Spanish, Afrikaans and Xhosa linger.
Those don’t usually go together because they’re a mix of South America and South Africa. But our recent travels have mixed them closer in my mind than they are on the map.
We saw the baboons in South Africa. I learned that we shouldn’t walk through the troop. Don’t smile at them either—they may think you’re picking a fight. And my friend, Casper, said that I should pick up a bigger stick next time.
The Inca ruins were in Peru. They are massive and high in the mountains. There are lots of high mountains in Peru, so we drank tea made from coca leaves to avoid altitude sickness – yep, the same source for cocaine. Don’t worry, I didn’t get high, it’s not that strong. I didn’t get altitude sickness either—but that might be because we stayed down in Pizac this time, a little further down the mountain.
We spoke Spanish for the month of April in Peru. Then went to South Africa in May and if it wasn’t English, we weren’t sure what language was spoken—there are 11 national languages in South Africa. The second Sunday we were there we sang in four languages at church. I was ready to sign up for language school before the night was over. (I think my Spanish accent helped my Afrikaans pronunciation).
We ate grilled guinea pig, or “cuy”, in Peru. If you see a guinea pig at someone’s house, it’s not a pet. It’s supper. Peruvians are proud of this tasty national dish. And it’s served with potatoes on the side. We almost always had potatoes on the side because there are more than 3000 varieties of potatoes originating in the Peruvian mountains. The Quechua people were eating potato soup long before the French learned to fry them or the Irish learned to farm them.
The South Africans don’t grill “cuy”, but they do boast the best bar-b-q. They call it a “Braai,” pronounced ‘bry’– the word comes from the Afrikaans language meaning roasted meat. Everyone does it in South Africa—it’s a common thread that crosses all cultural lines. You may be thinking that we do Braais, Bar-B-Q’s, in America. But theirs is different. It’s slow. It’s a long event that brings people together for any occasion. Just be sure to eat a snack before you go because it’ll be a while till the meat is ready.
And we saw penguins! Not at the zoo, but on the beach. The same year I graduated from high school, a family of 3 penguins showed up on Boulders Beach near Cape Town. Now it’s multiplied to a crowd of about 3000—yes, I graduated a long time ago. They are soooo cute!
We’ve had some amazing experiences the last couple of months!
But the truth is, when you ask me about our trip, it’s the people we visit who come to my mind before the sights we see. I remember meaningful talks at mealtime—and the meals that weren’t so meaningful because the toddlers outnumbered the adults. We love the toddlers! I remember the prayers we share, the ministries we see and the relationships we renew.
In our new job with Barnabas International, Gary and I visit missionaries to encourage them in their ministry. We listen, conduct spiritual renewal retreats, pray together and coach for cross-cultural living and ministry. Sometimes we hardly leave a neighborhood other than the ride back to the airport. Other times we see some cool sights.
But always, we return amazed. Amazed at God’s work through his people around the world.
So when you ask me, “How was your trip?” don’t be surprised if I forget to show you a picture of the penguins or the baboons.
I’ll most likely tell you about some new Christians we met.
Or I’ll ask you to pray for some missionaries who are persevering through difficulties.
Or I’ll tell you a story of someone’s faith that encourages my soul because they remind me of God’s greatness.
If you have time for the long answer, then maybe I’ll get around to a fun picture. And I might even tell you about the bus breaking down. Or when I fainted in front of the restaurant, twice. Or the time the taxi driver detoured through a ghost town to avoid the security checkpoint.
I love new sights. New flavors. And learning about other cultures.
But most of all, I love seeing God at work through his people. And I love it that we have the privilege of joining these people to encourage them in their service. That’s what you’ll hear about.
And now, since you’ve stuck with me this far, and you may still be wondering about our trips, here are a few more pictures, just for fun…
(But before you scroll, I want to invite you to partner with us in this ministry by praying for us as we serve global servants. If you’d like to receive a bimonthly newsletter, send me an email ([email protected]). If you’d like to partner with us to cover travel expenses, then click here where you can make a one-time or monthly donations to our Barnabas International account.)