Sunday, December 29, 2013

Crocodiles, College, and Other Scary Adventures

So I recently got home from a mission's trip to Turkey and Burkina Faso, Africa and people generally ask, "Oh my goodness! How was it?"

The real question is: How do you expect me to answer that question in under 20 minutes without a slideshow of several hundred travel pictures? You can't, thats how.

(Hanging out with Whendenda, one of the sweetest souls I've ever met.)
You just can't take thousands of miles, hundreds of smiles, and one-too-many airline meals and convey it fully. A picture may tell a thousand words but you still can't feel the breeze off the Bay of Izmir, the frantic pulse of music in a Turkish taxi cab, or the taste of mystery meat stew over an African cooking fire. (Nor would you want to in some cases for that last one there...).

The A Team and I (several men and women from the Global House of Prayer in St. Louis and my church) went on some amazing adventures. We climbed (probably illegally) on ancient ruins in Ephesus, we fitted and wrestled TOMS onto little African kid's feet (NOT as glamorously hipster as it sounds but totally worth it), and sat of the backs of sacred Burkinabei crocodiles; the list goes on. I would move on but can we just pause for a sec and all admit the crocodile thing was pretty cool beans? K, thanks.

But right now i'm not going to talk about my trip, not in this blog post anyway. I know, I know, thats not what you want to hear but life is tough, buttercup. This is my blog and right now the thing first and foremost on my noodle is Kentucky.

Admit it, the first thing you thought of when I said Kentucky was chicken. You saw the benevolent, mustached face of Colonial Sanders surrounded by the magical, deep-fried drumsticks that are Kentucky Fried Chicken. Or maybe thats just me. Maybe you thought of one of the many other things Kentucky is known for like horses or bourbon or...nope, I keep coming back to chicken. I can't help it. Obviously my knowledge of that Southern state is lacking.

By this time next year, however, i'll know a lot more about Kentucky...because I've been accepted to a college there!


*Que release of balloons and glitter and fireworks*


 After a long and arduous application process fraught with last-minute road trips and late-night personal essay writing, I finally received a piece of paper that began with "Congratulations!" not, as i'd feared, "Thank you for applying but take a hike, sucker." (Ok, no proper collegiate institution would send a letter saying that but hey, i'm paraphrasing. And considering this college's picky application process, it was a slightly well-based fear).

                  let's celebrate

The way people react to the announcement of a college application is funny. If I announced i'm moving to Kentucky people would gasp with surprise and concern. Say I'm going to college, however, and its a whole different ballgame. "Oh, college? Well, thats nice for you. Its in Kentucky? Huh, interesting!" Its like you tack on college and it undermines the whole shock factor of moving to the other side of the country, like college is an airport. Like yeah, you might be in Paris but if you're just in the airport on layover you aren't really in France, you're on international ground. Far away, but safe.


I've learned more and more in the past few months the truth in the what Ralph Waldo Emerson once said:

"Life's a journey, not a destination". 

Sometimes the joy of travelling isn't just landing in an exotic locale but the conversation you have with your seatmate on the plane ride. People (aka, my mother) told me to stop freaking out and saying things like, "What if I go to college and I flunk out of all my math classes because I have an irrational fear of mathematics and I fail and have to choose between becoming a bourbon-brewing redneck hermit in the depths of the Appalachian mountains or hitchhiking back to Missouri in the back of a station wagon under bales of hay to live out my life as a college drop-out who lives in her parent's basement and lives on ramen noodles and writing Whovian fanfiction? What if, mom?! WHAT IF."

But in all seriousness, half the fun is in the freaking out. Every new adventure in one's life should simultaneously fill you with electric excitement and scare the bejeebies out of you. Part of the journey is in creating your college pinterest boards and daydreaming of the best and worst outcomes and planning the color of your English notebooks months in advance. True, I probably should be planning the color of my notebooks for this semester, but i'm not always the best at focusing on the present. Lets keep in mind that one of my first College drop-out Plan B's was becoming an Appalachian bourbon hermit and rule out the likelihood of logical thought.

Another thing I've learned in the past few months is that the future is unpredictable:

"A man's steps are directed by the Lord. How then can anyone understand his own way?"
 (Prov. 20:24, NIV) 

I have my plans and pieces of paper but ultimately i'm not steering this boat, i'm a passenger along for the ride. Nothing about the future (where/if i'll go to college, jobs, where I'll live in a few months, what i'm eating for dinner) is set in stone so i'm going to sit back and enjoy the ride and remember some travel tips that apply to both travel and life: Its not where you are but who you're with, bring granola bars, don't drink the water, and feed the crocodile before you sit on it. Well, maybe not as universally applicable tips as I thought...

Toodles and Gluten-Free Noodles,


                                         thumbs (43) Animated Gif on Giphy