My Final (and most important) Trip List
5 Things that have changed the way I think…and live.
1. Sustainable Pace.
It’s the way Nathan (the MAF bush pilot) views his work, which includes 250 active airstrips over rugged terrain the size of Texas. He is conscientious of the cost of fuel for every flight, how many flights he needs to make a day, how many tribes are waiting for him to come as he is responsible to bring in food, supplies, medicine and transport people. The overwhelm of all this could wipe him out in a day.
However, he flies at what he calls a “sustainable pace.” In order to preserve resources (him personally, as well as the mission’s) and have longevity, his goal is NOT to maximize every moment to efficiency. Wait. What?
I am quite excellent at being efficient. You should see how I can stretch my budget the last five days of the month, vacuum my house while multitasking ten other things, plan a trip for maximum wow-factor, relax with the family on a movie night while catching up on everything during commercial breaks.
Sustainable pace. The minute I heard those two words, it was like my soul took a deep breath and said “Thank you, Nathan. I’ve been trying to tell her that for years.” My idolization of efficiency came crashing down during that first flight into the Interior.
2. Risk Management.
I took dozens of personality tests during graduate school. Can’t really remember how I answered or even scored on any of them, but I do remember one particular question and my response to it. I was asked, “Are you willing to take risks?” I immediately answered, proudly mind you, “Yes! As long as there’s a guarantee I’ll be okay.” I didn’t even hear what I actually said until the laughter around me woke me up to my answer. So, actually I guess, no, I don’t think of myself as a risk taker.
Come to realize, yet again, via Nathan’s pilot wisdom, the question isn’t about taking risks or not. Truth is, life is all about risks. Living anything worthy is very risky. The question is, how well do I manage risk? Ah. I can get with that. There is little I can control. I can focus on what is out of my control (i.e. risk), or I can focus on how I will manage the uncontrollable. After my second life lesson at an altitude of 7000 feet, I am happy to report, I am not a risk taker. I am a risk manager.
3. Relationships trump context.
NO WAY would I have ever bet I would have stepped foot in the country of Cambodia in my lifetime. But I did. Why? Because of my growing relationship with three missionary girls over the last three years that I now consider dear friends. When we invest in meaningful relationships, we will do things we never thought we could or even wanted to. That’s how it’s supposed to be when it’s real. The courage comes. The strength renews. The joy of connection creates craving.
4. Poverty Tourism- Not a fan, yet… am I guilty?
Poverty tourism is when, for example, a person may satisfy the desire for a “vacation” and justify it by visiting a third world location, most notably under the guise of a “short term mission trip.” (Not only does the person get to get-away, the trip is often paid for by “raising support.”) Or, it may happen when a person intentionally visits a third world location solely to see poverty firsthand, yet with no conviction to contributing to make a difference while there or once back home. Yet, their social media is riddled with emotionally moving images of those impoverished. Regardless, it’s shallow, manipulative, exploitive, wrong. (Note-there are many who do have right motives for such trips. I’m responding to the ones that don’t. )
Did I partake in poverty tourism on my trip? I confess, a part of me wanted to go on this trip because I LOVE to travel and it involved lots of it. I confess, although my role was clearly defined that I would contribute by teaching and counseling, I was overwhelmed at times by what I saw, smelled, and heard. As I mentioned in previous lists, I couldn’t process what I was exposed to as fast as it was happening. My first instinct was to snap a pic. And, like a kid with a new-found discovery that wants to show the world, I was eager to share what I was experiencing. Each day was so different and breath-taking. Especially while in Cambodia, I found myself pulled out of what I wanted to focus on because of the shocking surroundings. This was my first third world experience and it made an impact.
Were my motives and actions pure? Yes and no. I’m deeply sorry and I am learning. As much as my learning curve grew, it has not stopped since being back. I still am calling myself to action and hoping to inspire you to too.
Here’s your chance! Go to AIM’s website and donate! What if you found out your contribution literally helped keep their doors open to rescue one more child and without it, the doors would close?
Or go to www.MAF.org and give so highly trained bush pilots can keeping reaching tribes in the remote ends of the earth.
Or consider partnering with Joey and me in our call to deeply care for ministry leaders and their spouses who are giving their lives to do the hard work in hard places by donating online to our non-profit: 10|10 Ministries. (During my trip, I met three leaders from three different organizations who would like to have 10|10 come and put on a retreat for their staff!)
5. The future can not be grasped.
We learned that among the tribal people there is no concept of the future. If you think about it, why would there be? No schedules or calendars, the sun rises and sets at the same time every day (close to the equator). I wonder if they even realize what day of the week or month or year it is? (They definitely aren’t counting down the days to the release of the next iPhone.)
When asked about doing something in the future, their response is “tomorrow.” Tomorrow could mean three weeks from now, in a few hours, never, or literally tomorrow. Crazy huh? Freeing though, too. There is NO tyranny of the urgent, no rushing, no panicking. No deadlines. Could you imagine? No need for a day planner, you Franklin Covey fans. As much as we are bound by the developed world’s rules of time management, this is helping me chill out a little bit. Worry less. Be more flexible. With that, said, I’ll blog again “tomorrow…”