A couple of years ago, right after I got married, a good friend, Scott, invited my husband and I to stay at his home for the weekend and attend an Ohio State football game as our wedding present. At the same time we were there, he happened to be hosting another friend, Glenn, a triathlete from South Africa. Fascinated as I am about the world and especially Africa, I begged Glenn to tell us about his homeland. He regaled us with all sorts of interesting stories of safari adventures, cultural dancers and more, and when our weekend came to a close he said, “Well, if you ever come to South Africa, be sure to look me up!”
Six years later and a few facebook and email correspondences in between, I did just that. Last January my husband and I headed to South Africa to fulfill one of the biggest items on my bucket list – a safari in Kruger National Park. While in South Africa, we ended up staying at Glenn’s home for two nights and spending time with his lovely wife and children. They showed us some great spots in their hometown, took me to the bookstore to load up on African folklore, and gave us lots of great tips for the rest of our South African adventure. While our time with them was short, it didn’t take long for us to feel like close friends, and I was choking back tears when we said our goodbyes. It’s only been a year since we were with them, and already I look forward to the day when we can return to visit them.
Ever since this experience, my husband and I have always smiled and raised our eyebrows whenever anyone invites us somewhere. “I hope you mean it,” I’ll say, “because while it may take a couple of years, there’s a very good chance that we’ll take you up on it!”
Just a few days ago, I returned from a two week trip to Guatemala and that trip came about in much the same way as my South African visit. In October of 2011, I was invited to teach a workshop about using storytelling and the creative arts in ministry. The workshop was held in San Jose, Costa Rica and was directed toward pastors and youth leaders from across Central America and the northern parts of South America. The participants were enthusiastic students, and during my five days there, I met many wonderful people. One of those was David, a young pastor from El Salvador who was ministering in Guatemala – and I remember him telling me, “If you’d ever like to come to Guatemala, just let me know. We’d love to have you.”
Well, at the end of last year, after a trip to India that I’d been planning fell through, I remembered David’s words. I sent him a message asking if his offer was still standing, and if so, if he and his wife would be able to host me as soon as February! He wrote back with an enthusiastic “sí,” and told me about all of the schools in the area where I would be able to share stories. That was all it took for me to make Guatemala my next overseas destination!
And so, to this day, I continue to laugh when someone invites me somewhere, especially if it seems like a somewhat far-flung offer. Because where there’s a will, there’s a way. And anyone that knows me knows that I have a will to see and share stories in as much of the world as I can. So if a door opens, well, there’s a good chance I’ll walk through, even if it takes me some time to get there.