By Shane Bennett
Eighty-two Steps and Other Travel Tips
It was eeeeiiiigghhty tttwwwoooooo steps from the street to the door of our flat in Catania, Sicily last month. That’s 82 steps hammering home a lesson: Bring less stuff! That pretty much sums up my go-to travel advice: Leave it at home. Granted, (A) I’m grateful I don’t have to travel with a CPAP machine, and (B) I don’t require all the accoutrements that some females do.
Honestly, though, I don’t remember the last time I thought, “Dang! I wish I had that thing I left at home.”
A full set of travel tips should go beyond “leave it,” though, so see my friend Carl’s Top 20 Medearis Family Travel Tips. While you’re there, snoop around the site; Carl has written some provocative and helpful words.
If you’re really into travel tips, check these (sometimes contradictory) lists as well: 61 Travel Tips to Make You the World’s Savviest Traveler (Nomadic Matt), a packing list for the traveling gal (A Beautiful Mess), and a list of really cool, I mean helpful, traveling gadgets (Rethink Modern).
What Dopes Like Me Can Do
It’s a perennial but pleasant surprise: God can and is apparently happy to use people like me. The most recent edition of the surprise came a couple of weeks ago and swirled around a series of Discovery Bible Studies I had with a young guy from Gambia in a piazza in Sicily. I’ve talked to around 6.3 gazillion Muslims in my day, but this may have been the first time we’d really dug into the Bible together. I walked away thinking, “It’s true what they say… pretty much anyone can do this.”
I often think my mobilization cachet is to leave people with this realization: “If he can do it, I probably can too!” I mean, really, I’m no Lottie Moon or Gladys Aylward. I couldn’t even carry lunch for the Dons (McGavran, McCurry, and Richardson, for those keeping score!). But sometimes God uses me. If you don’t want to hear this, run away now. Otherwise I’m looping you into the group of people that God can use. Yes, you!
Certainly many Missions Catalyst readers, humble though you are, know that God uses you. You don’t need me to remind you. Great. But most of the people we know? They don’t know it! A cursory look at the Bible, history, and our lives says it’s true, though. God delights in using the least likely characters. Yay for us, for God, and for the world who waits to know him.
Check out You’ve Got Libya for the story of one of my heroes who was surprised that God would use the likes of him.
Language Learning Is Worth It!
I say this more from observation than experience. Our first group in Catania, Sicily in June interacted almost exclusively in English. They spoke some other languages, but none that were in play locally. And they did amazing things with their English.
The second team, however had some ringers: a woman whose mother tongue was French, a young lady with good Arabic, even though it was Chadian, and a young man who could stumble along in both French and Arabic. The doors these guys opened! We were able to converse with Wolof women from Senegal, extend welcome to 14- and 15-year-old boys fresh off the boat from Egypt, and even score points with a friend who was an imam from Morocco and reluctant to use his English.
Are you working on a second or third language right now? Press on! It’s worth it. Are you considering downloading Duolingo and diving in? Yes! I’m behind you 100 percent. Are you in a position to encourage some young bucks to get another language? Grace to you as you do so. They’ll be annoyed now, but grateful as God opens cool, unexpected doors. (Are you a non-American who’s grown up speaking several languages? Good on you. Thanks for the grace. We’re working on it.)
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