I’m starting to get back to normal from my 3 week trip to China. I have to say it was an amazing journey, and I could have stayed for 2 -3 times as long. The countryside was beautiful, food was wonderful, and people so nice and accommodating.
Taking trips like this prompt a lot of questions: “Why are you going? What are you going to do? Why China? Depending on who you talk to, people have expectations of grandiose adventures and supernatural outpourings of love and mercy and stuph. Sure, some of that stuff may happen, but what really happens is not in the 6000 mile trip to get to a foreign land – it’s in the 18 inch journey from the head to the heart.
Don’t get me wrong… we did a lot of preparation for this trip, to know where we were going, who we would be seeing, what the culture was that we would be visiting. Doing that kind of research and prep makes you “ready” – ready to give away what you have. Ready to meet the needs of those you have researched. I have to admit, I don’t think I did any research to see who I could learn from, who could mentor me, or who could change my life. No, I went with a plan… a goal. Armed with a backpack, pockets full of oatmeal and a schedule of places to go and people to see, I hopped on the plane and prepared to go 6000 miles to show someone else that they were loved.
Much to my surprise, before I could even open my arsenal of stuph to give, I was met with what I planned on giving. “French Fry man is looking for you!” (ok, I gotta explain… two trips ago, we went to Hong Kong, and in the community we stayed in there was a man who had a small stash of food that he would sell. Part of his stash? Yep, crinkle cut french fries, with spoonfuls of salt. Now, when you are getting home at zero-dark-thirty, and there is nothing open as far as the eye can see, being able to go to french fry man and get something remotely familiar was nothing short of a blessing from heaven). He remembered me from 2 years ago, even though I had only been in the neighborhood for a few days. Not only did he remember me, but he wanted to see me. That was only the beginning.
All through the trip there were signs of love coming to me. Some were soft and tender, like a woman in McDonald’s who gave me her baby – no, I didn’t ask for the baby, she just gave him to me – and took pictures of me holding her child. Other signs were a little more intense – having a safe place to realize and express some childhood hurts. Still others were just signs of favor – getting to the train station just in time to find that you are at the wrong station and have missed your train, with no one to call and barely able to speak the language, having an officer escort you to the front of the line to get new tickets, and that at a cheaper price…
I went with an arsenal… I ended up emptying my pockets in order to receive all that others had been giving me…
The tears I shed, and there were many, allowed me to wash my eyes to see some wonderful people – the guy cooking up fried rice in what to us would be a back alley way; a young girl with a heart to change the world; a college student who sees the beauty in her country and her people and loves to help others see the same; families that are being salt and light in their communities… the list goes on. Just sitting here thinking of them, my heart continues to melt, and I feel so blessed to have had the opportunity to meet them and get to know them.
Sometimes you know things in your head, but your heart, for many reasons tries to tell you differently. I know that I am loved, but in a lot of ways I just didn’t feel or experience it. Yet even with that, I still went to give what I knew others needed. What ended up happening was a second trip. 6000 miles to get to the 18 inches from my head to my heart. On this trip, I experienced love.
Love given and received in different and wonderful ways:
Let love be your manifesto!