Last time I left the country was about 12 years ago. I had only been married for 4 years, I had no children. I went all the way to Europe, spending a week in Kiev, Ukraine, working with a small church over there to do some outreach events in their neighborhood.
The trip was a growing experience for me and probably for my wife. It was the first time that we had been apart from each other for that length of time and that geographic distance. I was in a new place where I didn’t know the language, meeting new people and trying to do my best to assimilate and blend in, something I found much easier for me than my companions on the team.
Tomorrow, I board a plane and leave the country again, this time for Costa Rica. 12 years and 3 children later, this will prove to be yet another growing experience for me, my wife, and our family. I’ll be gone for 10 days working with a team to put on a children’s camp in the mountains.
I’ll be honest, I’ve resisted this trip from the start, and I’ve been asking myself why the moment that the resistance began. While there are factors here and there that might contribute to my resistance, the biggest one has to do with my family.
For years, I never had to travel significantly for work. The furthest that I had to go was down the street or a few towns over. Over the last few years, I’ve had to travel for work more frequently, one state away, a few states away, across the country. It was hard for me whether I was gone for 2 days or 7 days, I just never liked to leave my family. But the thing that always made it easier was a phone call or a video call, the ability to hear or see my family through technology.
And that’s one of the reasons why this trip will be harder for me, aside from the day and a half in the beginning and the two days on the back end, I won’t be in contact with my family.
I’ll be about good work, God’s work, assisting in the lives of kids who don’t always have the opportunity to do what they’ll be doing. I’m familiar with the language, not fluent, but familiar enough to carry on casual conversations. I think that’ll make some of the discomfort a little easier.
What’s that phrase that’s always thrown around? Absence makes the heart grow fonder? What if I’m already fond?
I don’t know all that will happen while I am away, both where I am and back at home, but I’m pretty certain that this trip will change us, all of us, in my family. I think my heart will grow, both for my family and for the world. I think that my perspective of God’s kingdom will grow, seeing how we are connected despite geographical boundaries, borders, and ethnic variances.
Christians in the western world can too often forget that God’s kingdom is so much bigger and more expansive than we are, trips like this help to bring that into perspective. I’m excited to see what God will do, nervous and anxious along the way, but I’m sure there’ll be a story or two to write about when I get back!