I grew up in South Texas in a large, working-class family. My childhood recollections are filled with memories of our family trying to survive financially, looking for ways to make extra money, and being surprised when and how God provided. As a young boy I (along with my brothers) helped my dad with his second job of mowing lawns and picking up trash. A couple years later, we added another makeshift industry to our family income: woodworking. This is not a bad childhood I’m describing. I learned many things about trust, hard work, and prayer for which I am certainly the richer.
We didn’t travel or vacation much. (Shout out to my fellow Texans – even if you did want to travel to another state or country, you could spend an entire day in the car before you left the state lines.) There simply wasn’t the time, money, or bandwidth to “go exploring.” OK, I did get to do a few things as a youngster: went to Big Bend National Park and crossed the Rio Grande into the Mexican village of Boquillas, drove “far north” into Colorado, and later went on a teen mission trip to the Caribbean island of Dominica. But in the end, I was no world traveler. I didn’t have a global perspective. My world was pretty small, and I never really thought I would live anywhere other than my native Texas.
Little did I know the life to which God would call me. I left Texas as a teen to live in Seattle. I never planned to permanently relocate, but for the next 23 years, Seattle would be my place of residence. I hated living there and had trouble adjusting for at least a full year. Finally, Seattle became my home-both in reality and in heart. There I met the woman who would become my wife, and together we enjoyed our first seventeen years of marriage and the addition (more like multiplication?) of our six children.
But back to travel. In the last few years I have been blessed to see some interesting places, both for ministry and occasionally for recreation. These forays, combined with our recent call to relocate across country (that’s another story), awakened in me and Corrie a larger, global perspective and what I’d like to call a “geographical curiosity” we’d never had before. Far removed from the small-world of my Texas youth, I began to engage in a global community. Believe me, no one was more surprised than myself: I wasn’t ever supposed to leave Texas! Tell that to my growing, kitschy collection of Starbucks “You Are Here” mugs.
Experiencing more of the world changed me. Here are a few of the ways:
-Humbled me to be on the receiving end of hospitality to the “stranger.” I was the stranger.
-Gave me a glowing love for the global Christian church
-Jarred some of my narrow thinking loose and let me hear from God in fresh ways
-Awakened an inner-explorer in me I didn’t know was there
-Sparked my curiosity about how and where the gospel is spreading (or not)
-Caused me to cherish beauty and marvel in the creative handiwork of God and people
-Made history come alive
-Changed my idea of what “home” was
-Made me resolved to take my children with me whenever I could
Who knows where God will take us next.
I’d love to hear how travel has shaped your head and heart, too!