travel was always a dream of mine, just like many other kiwis of my generation. the ‘big oe’ (overseas experience) is somewhat ingrained in our conscious. our little nation wants to see what all the fuss is about.
when hubby and i became engaged we made the decision that we would travel soon after getting married. ‘for about a year…’ was our initial thought.
for me, setting off to the unknown couldn’t have come sooner. i had thirsted for experiences, to see what the world was about; to find out what was ‘out there’.
A kiwi girl, with her Korean pose and NZ flag.
fast forward to four years of marriage and a baby boy. from february ’10 we have lived away from ‘home’. i never imagined i would live in an overseas country for more than six months, let alone commit to four years so far and raising a child in a foreign country. but recently, on my return to the ‘land of the morning calm’ with our then 5 week old son, i felt a peace about our time here. God has really placed us here, in a season where ‘differences’ can come part and parcel.
not speaking a language fluently, standing out in a crowd, being misunderstood. these can all yell in your face ‘YOU are different.’ i have come to realise that in places so foreign, sometimes the differences are breathtakingly beautiful but also the difference can be very loud, and at times, exhausting. it can be hard to face simple things because of this. but differences are also good and that is how he created it. they can be amazingly powerful. a lesson waiting to happen.
L to R:
Lyon, France / Suwon Folk village / Gelato at Sanremo, Italy / Hiking in Gorka, Nepal
Singapore Zoo / Running of the Bulls Pamplona, Spain / Beauty, Nepal / Manduka, Spain
Frejus, France / Traditional Wedding, Korea / Nice, France / Twin copper merchants, Korea
School children, Bali / Guard, Buckingham Palace, England / Donkey, Nepal / King Arthur’s Castle, England
this is all a setting for something that my friend shared before i left to travel. it is still so profound to me and something i hold to nearly every day.
her words echo in my mind.
… Celebrate the difference …
this ricochets throughout my experiences, sometimes on particularly hard days and in contrast, when days are filled with absolute adventure. i have returned to this many times and i have been determined to celebrate what is out there; the painstaking annoyances of things that are not like home, the inconveniences, the lessons, the letting go of prejudice, the filters over my eyes, the small-mindedness.
i have also tried to share it with people when they have come to me with their times of struggle too. i thought to write it here and share it with you…
i celebrate by choosing
not to compare, instead to experience.
not to judge, instead to accept.
not right or wrong, instead a coin flipped.
not division instead connection.
not to minimalise instead to expand.
but most of all to show love and dignity.
even when it’s hard.
i thank my friend for sharing this with me, it has helped me beyond words. it has shifted the focus to a life full of amazement.
i want to extend an invitation to join me on this; whether over the seas or right around the corner from where you have always called home.
i invite you to celebrate with me.