Life Musings, Travel Stories

Blue pills and butterflies: the art of saying hello and goodbye

       It’s starting. That queasy, “I’m at the top of the roller coaster about to drop at incredible speeds while my stomach stays suspended in the air” feeling. It’s exhilarating. It’s terrifying. And it never seems to get easier. Last night I stumbled upon the blog one of the missionary families in Shell has been keeping. I have not yet met them, but I can already tell they are amazing people. As I read through posts about eating cooked maggots, finding tarantulas in the house, and multiple illnesses the reality of having no idea what I’m getting myself into set in.
      Tomorrow I will be setting foot in the Andes mountains. A gringa living in a completely unknown place. So often it’s easier to talk about the shocking differences between here and there. To paint a place and people as exotic and foreign. To forget about the ways that we are the same. To ignore the human story while describing all of the other worldly bugs, the diseases, the poverty. It’s important to discuss the ways in which we are different, to acknowledge cultural and societal anomalies so that we might better understand each other. However, how many times do we focus so much on the extremes while failing to recognize how we are alike? A smile. A tear. Laughter. The loss of a loved one. The love between a mother and her children. Grief. Sorrow. Joy. I pray for God to keep my eyes and heart open to seeing His image in everyone I meet. To look past the circumstantial disparities and open my arms to love.
        For me, the hardest part about beginning an adventure is the knowledge that I will ultimately be opening myself to loss. When you expose your heart to a place, your family increases and the people you consider home lie scattered all over the map. I still think about the orphaned children I met in Zambia and the pastor who told me I’d come back someday. With each new set of hellos and goodbyes it seems my heart will almost burst. Wherever I am in the world, a feeling of longing and homesickness persists. Still, it is worth the heartache. It is worth the butterflies, the unknown. Each time I think my heart will break with another goodbye it finds a way to stretch and grow and make room for all of the people and places I’ve met. I carry them with me wherever I go.

“Across the ocean, across the sea, over the mountains, across the sky through the storm and through the clouds, bumps in the road and upside downs, don’t you worry ‘cuz everything’s gonna be alright.”

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  • Reply Donna September 14, 2012 at 4:26 am

    I came back to work and as expected you were gone. So sorry I missed your leaving temporarily. I’ve been reading your blog and I have to say I’m a little jealous. Meeting new people, different ways of life and new countries. I’ve frequently wished I was brave enough when I was younger to do what you are doing. Keep us informed and I’ll keep reading. Be safe and hurry back.

    • Reply Mariah September 14, 2012 at 5:59 pm

      Thanks Donna! I arrived safely in Shell where I will be spending my time. Today I shadowed one of the nurses in the hospítal and let me tell you, it made me feel like a brand new nurse again! The Spanish is fast but I hope I will soon get the hang and flow of everything. Tell everyone I said hello!

  • Reply Koty September 11, 2012 at 10:26 pm

    I can completely relate. As we travel the world and meet new people, our family becomes larger than we can ever imagine. Meeting others is one of the reasons I love traveling. I think about people I’ve met who have written down their addresses, email addresses, etc and welcomed me to their home anytime. It’s hard to build connections to only have to leave them so soon but it’s that mix of longing for both the unknown and the familiar that keeps me traveling. Can’t wait to hear more about your adventures!!

    • Reply Mariah September 11, 2012 at 11:26 pm

      Thanks Koty! It’s so nice to have the support of fellow travelers who understand the ups and downs of exploring the world around us. The more I travel the more I find comfort in this community of sojourners who I can share the journey with. Can’t wait to read more about your adventures as well!

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