The Spaces on the Way to the Places

I once threw up on a goat on the side of the road. It was my first pregnancy and I’d been rendered useless for the previous couple of weeks on a mattress on the floor of our tiny sweltering compound living quarters. Making a trip to Monrovia meant sitting upright in a moving vehicle on the 6-8 hour journey from our rural “up country” digs to the bustling capital city of Monrovia. The erratic motion of the swerving Hi-Lux led to the infamous moment when an unwitting goat came a little too close to the door of our truck.

This was one of the many long rides we had while on the field.

It was a common occurrence to find us bumping up and down the road in a Land Cruiser or on the back of a motor bike. Usually the vehicle was full of supplies, nationals and expats and always the trip took longer than it should have because the roads in our area were beat up, washed out, and virtually impassable most of the time. Thank you Civil War and government corruption.

The space between all the places we traveled are rich. When I think back to the best conversations, deepest belly laughs, most trying moments of our journey overseas, I think of legs glued to vinyl Land Cruiser seats. There is something about the shared experience of travel and the stillness it forces upon you which opens the door to conversations and life together.

For some of the VA community those spaces are on long bus rides. Others experience this simply walking across a village or down a city street. It’s the circuits that our daily life takes shape around which often create the greatest relationships or most valuable ministry. Don’t overlook these places. Don’t waste them. They are moments heavy with potential to speak truth, live honestly, and do the hard work of being together in life.

Often our time spent in a vehicle or traveling the in-between to the next thing we needed “to do” was spent with folks very different from us. It was there we found the space to talk without interruption. It was in those moments we revealed who we really were- when nothing had gone as planned and everything had taken longer than we thought we could bare. Sanctification took place in the middle of Liberian roads and Gospel hope was shared on bench seats of bouncing vehicles on dirt roads.

Upon leaving our overseas home, a dear expat friend who we knew had some serious baggage and hang-ups (I mean, yeah, we all do) told my husband and I how much we had meant to her. She expressed just how much our relationship had spoken to her heart. It was a big deal for her to say those things. Our primary time together was spent in the in-between spaces on our way to places. We thought we were there to get to those places and do the good work. I think more and more the in-between places were the “good work”.

Do you experience God’s work and providence in your travels? 


  1. Helen June 14, 2017

    Thank you for this. My travelling time is short but daily and I often think of it as such a waste of time; 20 min walk to school; 20 min walk to bus stop, 40 min on bus to language school; 10min walk to language school and then back home again but now bus ride is well over hour as we hit the traffic. And this is just a normal day, somedays it is longer. I will look at this differently now though….there might be oppertunities in my daily travels. Thank you

  2. Ruth June 14, 2017

    Um, that might be the best first sentence ever. I would have laughed out loud if my children weren’t sleeping. I love what you said and I think there is some deep truth in it which I have often skimmed over. I have thought about this with my kids – it takes So. Much. Time and So. Much. Effort to get everyone out the door and from one place to another. I am impatient and rushed and just want to get there. But honestly, how much of the day do we spend getting out the door and getting places? Hours, usually. And those are often some of my worst interactions. It’s so easy, with my kids, with others in the community, to just focus on getting from one point to the next and completely lose sight of the opportunities of the moment. Thank you for this reminder. I think it is both incredible and daunting to consider just how much of the “good work” is done when we are in all those in between places.

  3. Katie Rose June 14, 2017

    A friend and I were just talking about this very topic yesterday. I am leaving the field soon, and taking a week in London to meet her and visit where she’s been living for the past year (she will also transition just after I do). We are both excited for the opportunity to just walk around together, sit in coffee shops, and just talk. So this is exciting to read and be reminded of! Thank you.

  4. Monica June 19, 2017

    Our family often reminisces about our travels when we lived overseas- hiking up narrow mountain paths, plopping the kids into horse-carts in rural villages, walking EVERYWHERE, and all those plane rides too. The best memories I have are walking to a place, and avoiding the town bus or taxi- just so I could greet shopkeepers, fruit sellers, and friends along the way. I’m so grateful for the spaces (even the terrifying ones) on the way to places!

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