You may be surprised to hear this, but a busy trip does not free time for blogging make.

Whaaaa?

Somehow the days were completely filled what with plane rides, van rides, tuktuk rides, boat rides, hauling ridiculously heavy backpacks across borders, getting sunburnt – oh, and a bit of fun stuff like haggling with market vendors and sightseeing here and there. And then of course there was socializing with my team – *if I must* – and by the time evening rolled around my brain for some reason did not want to peck out a post on my tablet (tablet, why did they name it that? Calls to mind chiseling on a stone tablet..) or meticulously select and edit photos.

All right, enough excuses. Basically I’ve been having way too much fun. The cities we’ve seen have been entrancing, from the streets of Hanoi that flow with motorbikes like water, to the jungles in Chiang Mai we ziplined through (that’s, right, ziplined. Amazing!), to the 6 hour speedboat ride we took down the Mekong River in Laos, every turn revealing more mountains. We’ve wandered around quiet temples and through crowded markets where haggling now happens by exchanging bids on a calculator with the local vendors until an agreement is reached. We’ve tried food like snails, frog, eel (and they do say once you’ve eaten in these places long enough, you’ve most likely had dog). Mostly we enjoy dragon fruit, mango, the most natural bananas we’ll probably ever have, and the plethora of fruit shake/smoothie options at every restaurant. Oooh and restaurants. We’ve enjoyed Thai, Lao, Vietnamese, Indian – with a bit of “regular” food like pizza or spaghetti here and there – at restaurants in the crowded city central, or a village where those chickens wandering across the road are probably tomorrow’s meal, or by the Mekong as the sun set across the river.

There have been so many moments I’ve sat back to watch my team talking and laughing while figuring out how to hold chopsticks, or squinting against sun and dust as we jolt through the city, crammed into a tuktuk, or humming along as a local church sings in Lao – and it feels like a dream to be here. It feels like a place that just exists as I move, unfolding as my eyes and body move.

I watch the Buddhist monks wrapped in orange praying to a golden head or monument, and cannot wrap my mind around how ancient this religion is, that this is truly what millions of people believe – not just to make pretty buildings or enjoy lighting some candles – and what they trust or lean upon in life. And people think Christianity doesn’t make sense?

That’s another post in itself.

In all of this seeing, traveling, tiredness, joys, and new things, I had the absolutely best team and leader. You know how they say you can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your family? Same same – I had no idea what kind of people I would be traveling with for 2 weeks, but was blessed with brothers and sisters of kindness, generosity, laughter, and love. Every one of them challenged me with their strong love for Christ and His Word.

In imagining each of them now what I see is their smiles, and their listening faces. They were always ready to quietly and fully listen to what someone else or I had to say – which says a lot more about someone’s character than just that they’re willing to listen, if you know what I mean.

I’m getting choked up, just writing this. That’s happened quite a bit since I said goodbye to them. Always goodbyes in my life, to the most amazing people that make it so hard to leave.

And then you meet more people that show you more of Christ, and life moves on, and God is sovereign, and praise Him that someday there will be a massive reunion in heaven. I can’t wait.

But for now? For now I am staying behind in Laos while the rest of the team has gone home. I am staying with missionaries and really just humbly taking in a lot right now, meeting missionaries and seeing ministries and taking in what God is doing against this country’s darkness through His people.

In ten days I’ll return home, to a very different world.. and we’ll see what’s next. God is good, God is faithful, and again all I can speak is humbled, and privileged.

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