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?