Today’s guest blog is written by George Foster, seasoned traveler, missionary, and international pastor for Bethany International Missions.
You don’t have to be Willy Nelson to sing ON THE ROAD AGAIN. Anyone can travel—and should travel. I ought to know.
From the time I was a young man, I knew I would travel. I left home and hitchhiked to college at age 17 and I’ve traveled ever since. I can’t count the times I woke up in some unknown corner of the world and asked myself, “How did I get here?”
I’ve been to some places where Americans rarely go. One of my favorites is East Timor, a beautiful little island near Australia where the mountains jut up from the sea. There I met Brazilian friends and we bantered about in Portuguese. Portuguese, my second language, is one of the official languages of Timor, but not many speak it.
Another place is Meghalaya, a state in Northeast India that resembles Tennessee with its rolling hills covered with evergreens and brooks that rush in between, like the river above that flows through a Meghalaya forest. I was amazed to discover that the people love choral music there. Years ago, the work of Welsh Presbyterian missionaries led over half the population to the Lord, and they love to sing choral music in the Welsh tradition. (When I walked around town, the tiny people stopped to gawk at 6’3”, pink-skinned Minnesotan George Foster in disbelief.)
On a recent trip to Cuba I often walked away from our tour group to talk with small clusters of nationals on the street. I was pleased to find that many were Christian believers and left them a copy of a Spanish booklet, Siguiendo Jesucristo (Following Jesus Christ), I wrote thirty years ago. The first time we sent 30,000 copies and half of them were confiscated. This time we handed out them out freely. One man read the title and his face lit up.
“Yo tambien soy evangélico!” (I too am an evangelical), he said.
What a pleasant encounter we had.
What fascinates me is getting glimpses of different cultures and learning little snitches of other languages, (probably just enough to get me in trouble). I like to learn the names of a few food items, like baguette, jambon e fromage in French, and how to say bathroom, taxi, hotel and airport. And I know how to say thank you (shencuya), and Praise the Lord (Kfawa Bogu) in Polish. (Please don’t do a spell check).
I’ve learned that a smile and a bit of courtesy go a long way and that English will get you almost anywhere in the world. Another great tool when you travel is the ability to laugh at your own mistakes.
Are you wondering if you should take the trip? Go, and you’ll come back glad you did. You’ll have stories to tell and pleasant memories to share.