riding down the windy roads in the land of a thousand hills [Rwanda] this summer, with my new friends Anna + Jennie we were playing the question game. ya know, getting to know each other. I don’t remember exactly the question that was asked – but somehow I got into talking about all the different places I’ve lived or worked that stretched me the most. the ones that were most out of my comfort zone:
living in a trailer park for 14 days, sleeping on a park bench in Paris, working in a trash dump slum community in Ethiopia, and spending a few terrifying nights in a covered wagon as big cats paraded around.
yes, my first big girl job out of college was working for the Rodeo in our state capital of Austin, Texas. before you get a mental image that I wore a crown and paraded around on my horse every night before the show started, let me stop you in your tracks. I worked in fundraising and event planning, and in case you didn’t know the rodeo is a non-profit that raises scholarship money for youth! but it’s true. I lost 14 pounds to match the 14 nights I slept and showered in a trailer during the “show”. this was culture at it’s finest. this baptist/private school girl all her life was thrown into the ring so to speak. but I loved it. it pushed me out of my comfort zone, opened my eyes, and while most of the time I felt beat down, I think it strengthened my faith.
[also apparently too busy to take photos – but these were my lovely co-workers and friends!]
now the sleeping on a park bench in Paris is less scandalous than it sounds. I was studying abroad with Baylor University in London, and our whole team did a weekend in Paris. but at the recommendation of others who’d gone before me, me and a few friends opted to not pay the extra thousand dollars or whatever it was, and decided just to sneak into the rest of our groups hotel rooms. meaning, we took an earlier train and couldn’t “Check in” to the room. we were exhausted after we’d toured the Louve, and walked around Paris all day so we elected to take turns taking naps on benches in a city park. it was a memory for the record books – and there are way more stories to record from that once in a lifetime experience. backpacking Europe on the weekends for sure taught me flexibility. [also, back in 2004, there wasn’t Facebook, so finding photos of this event was difficult….enjoy the only photo I found – eating dinner at the Texas Embassy in London]
unlike the pre-blog timing of the other stories, Ethiopia was in this blogs lifetime. you could possibly remember my missionary summer where I said yes, and lived the dream of living in Ethiopia [without my man [insert sad face]] for a solid 3 months while we were finishing our adoption process of Camp + Asher. working everyday in my beloved Korah, a community build around the capital city of Ethiopia, Addis Abbaba, trash dump. I lived with a family, but I was still very much living there alone. figuring out my own transportation, which often led me to take 3 city buses to Korah on a Saturday [not very safe] alone…but hey. it was an adventure, it was hard, but it gave me some of the most memorable experiences of my life so far.
so Hume Lake. In case you didn’t know, I was a church recreation major in college, and to graduate I had to do an internship. I totally could have worked at my beloved Camp Mystic, where I spent 14 summers of my life, but I wanted something to push me out of my comfort zone. I read about this camp in California from a text book, and even had a friend in my sorority who grew up going there with her church group, so I said what the heck. I applied, got in, and went not knowing a soul. and I was the only one from Texas, and well pretty much the entire south. my nickname was Dixie. I wouldn’t have traded this summer for anything – I met people I would NEVER have met, was exposed to a totally different culture in our own country, and learned so much about a state I love so much.
the thing all those stories have in common?
I did all those things alone. I took a leap of faith, and went. These experiences pushed me out of my comfort zone, they taught me so much about myself, they gave me a love for other cultures, and an “I can do anything” attitude. I hope as a family we can continue to take these sort of leaps, and we can encourage our children one day in this too.
what about you? is there a time in your life you took a leap + it changed your perspective on life?
what is this #notetoself series? check it out here.