For how much I travel, I much prefer home. I prefer to feel comfortable, to feel known, to be familiar with the landscape, to have the option of crawling back home to my ridiculously comfy couch at a moment’s notice. I can handle short trips, ones not too far away, but going across the globe slightly terrified me.
So I prayed and prayed and prayed that God would give me comfort and peace as I boarded an airplane by myself to London. And even as I almost accidentally boarded the wrong plane to my connecting flight in Canada, I remained reassured, confident, and thrilled for the adventures to come.
The first four days, I stayed in England with an American father/daughter duo, the Callisons, who generously invited me along to beautiful rural England at the home of an incredible British family. I’ll admit, I was a bit spoiled. Highlights include: canoeing down a river while it poured down rain and we laughed really hard, visiting a food festival at a neighboring town with extremely delicious fudge, and enjoying a proper Sunday filled with eating lunch together at home and chatting for hours while having tea after church. (I also learned the British pronounce the brand Nike as if it rhymed with bike and Adidas as “add-ee-das” with the emphasis on the first syllable, so maybe England wasn’t so great after all.) But in all seriousness, I am beyond grateful for the Callisons for allowing me to accompany them to England, because I was able to witness and enter into another culture and see Christ’s kingdom moving so beautifully in the UK.
It was the perfect start to an even better trip to come.
From there, we met my mom in Italy and parted ways for a day. My mom and I decided to explore the quaint and beautiful coastal town of Portifino. I had my fair share of gelato, pizza, and pasta, so I think it’s safe to say we enjoyed Italy right.
The main difference between this trip overseas and last year’s was my openness to experience new things. I was so much less controlled by fear of newness and so much more eager to simply be present in what God has for the day, whether that be eating delicious foods, attempting to navigate Italian public transport, hiking in the 80 degree heat with 80% humidity simply to see a better view, or riding down a natural water slide on a river in the Italian alps. (Yeah. No big deal. I did that.) I reasoned that knowing I’d be home eventually allowed me to fully experience what was happening while abroad.
With that in mind, we had finally arrived at the whole purpose for this entire trip: the Connect Conference– to reconnect (pun intended) with the incredible friends I had made last year as we explored the Italian alps together, but more importantly discussed what it looks like to be Christians in this generation.
Each of us are either pastor’s kids, missionary kids, or both, so we have all experienced the Church in very raw and messy ways. We were able to honestly acknowledge and discuss the fact that many, if not all, of us have or are currently experiencing serious doubt about about the faith we’ve grown up with. We struggle with all kinds of sin, we fail to love ourselves, others, and God’s creation in the ways that Christ commands. We honestly opened up about the setbacks we had faced and rejoiced in the victories we had experienced in this past year. It was refreshing to have honest and open dialogue about all of this, and rather than simply complaining and acknowledging our issues, we entered into scripture to oppose the lies we believe with God’s truth and challenged each other to dive deeper and continue striving after and put our hope in Jesus.
It was also really important for me to be able to recognize both the similarities and the differences in each of our cultures (because if you weren’t already aware, I was one of only three in the group who lives in the states) and to be able to hear different perspectives on issues I thought I had figured out. It was incredibly exciting to hear the ways each member of the group had grown in the past year. It was deeply impactful to pray together, each of us sitting together with God, praying over each others’ lives, in the micro and macro ways. We sure prayed a lot, because there’s a lot that happens in a year, and a lot that will happen in the year that we won’t be able to be a part of, so there’s a lot of ground to cover.
Most of all, though, I simply loved being able to see my friends again. I wish I could describe how grateful I am to those of you who have financially supported me, whether it be this trip or last year’s, because you allowed me the opportunity to make some pretty awesome international friends. I may only see them once a year, but their impact will continue to last throughout my entire life.
For pictures of the trip, check out my Facebook or Instagram (I apologize in advance for all the pictures that I will continue to post… but actually I don’t because I can’t get over how amazing my trip was). If you supported me– and even if you didn’t–and want to know more about the trip, feel free to reach out, and I’d love to grab coffee and go into more detail about the ways that God moved.
Thank you for allowing me to go to Italy so I could be with my people again and be reminded of God’s never-changing truths about His love and the hope that I have through Him. My heart is glad, my soul is refreshed, and I am counting down the days until next year.