"So How Was Your Trip?"

We're less than three weeks away from leaving this beautiful city in Hungary and being back with our friends and family in our cozy bedroom in Johnny's parents house. We're so excited to spend some much needed time with family and to catch up with friends during the holiday season, and even more excited to begin exploring some opportunities we've been presented to continue in the mission field. 

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As we prepare, some of our missionary friends here have encouraged us to begin putting together different answers for people when they ask the dreaded question "So how was your trip?". I say dreaded, because it's a question that is so incredibly easy to ask but encapsulates so many different things, like "What did you learn?", "What did you eat?", "How was the weather?", and "Tell me me how God moved." It's a hard question to answer, too, because for us, how do we possibly begin putting into words all that we've learned, all that we've seen, and all that we've experienced? "Good" doesn't seem good enough and "great" doesn't even begin to express the magnitude of all that has happened during these three months. 

It's also a hard question to answer because we've been told that there are three different kinds of answers we should be prepared to give since there are three different kinds of people who will ask that question. There is the first kind of person who will only want a 30 second answer; telling them "Good! God did amazing things and we are definitely changed" is enough for them. And that's okay, not everyone will want to know everything that happened. Secondly, there are people (most likely close friends) who will want to hear a 10 minute version of everything that happened. And then there are people who will want to hear literally everything that happened and will spend hours and hours and hours talking to you about it, which is incredibly rare and more than likely your mom. That's just kind of the way it is, and that's okay.

We've talked about how we are going to answer that question, and in doing so we've realized a few things:

01. When people ask "How was your trip?", they more than likely already have a preconceived idea about what this "trip" was.

Lot's and lot's of people (some people we don't even know or talk to) have referred to what we are doing in Budapest as a "missions trip", which is far from the truth. We haven't been on a missions trip. The only "trips" we've been on was the plane ride here, trips on public transportation, trips by foot, and a few train rides to neighboring countries and cities. This experience has not been a "trip", rather it has been us continuing to live our lives following where God has told us to go. We've learned how to buy groceries at the market and that tourists stay in the center aisles while Hungarians shop on the outer aisles (which is where we go, too). We've been renting a flat from a very nice Hungarian man who we've hung out with a few times and we've had dinner at friend's homes. We've cooked meals at home and tried to make our bed every day. We've hung laundry up to dry on our clothes drying rack and we've attended church every week (except for one week when we got the flu). We've scraped plaster for Agóra Gellért and painted walls for Agóra Corvin as those needs arose. We've spent a few days working in our flat and triple that amount of time out climbing hills and walking down cobble stone streets. We've even done fun adult things like pay bills, mop our floors, and buy toilet paper. 

We don't have anyone who is keeping track of our expenses besides ourselves. We don't have a guide or a team leader or someone who takes us everywhere we need to be. We don't have a translator so we have tried to learn very basic Hungarian so that we can be polite to people we interact with. We've learned how to navigate the bus, tram, and metro system and can get anywhere in the city without asking for help. We don't have a group of people that we are with day in and day out who we can stick with as we wander throughout the city or who we can look inwardly to for security and comfort when the outside world reacts harshly to our foreign-ness. We don't have a specific agenda or plan and we have said "yes" to anyone who has asked for our help with things.

We're just living life. I think it's more important to communicate what this was before we try to answer how this was, mainly because on a trip you don't really experience the things we've been able to experience and it's more important for you to understand that.

02. When people ask "How was your trip?", they might not understand that this is the start of something much bigger.

Yes, we're going home on December 5th. We'll be back in Johnny's parents spare bedroom and we'll get to see all the family and friends we've been missing. But this isn't it for us like some may have assumed. God has confirmed time and time again that this is the beginning of a greater purpose and calling on our life. A trip is something you go to and come back from. This is a life change for us. We aren't going home and getting jobs and moving out of the spare bedroom and continuing on with normal life, because being back in America isn't going to be normal for us. This "micro-season" (these three months {what most will be referring to when they say trip}) is the beginning of a new "macro-season". (An indefinite life change {the TRIP, the one you really want to ask us about, the one with questions we can't answer, the one that's most terrifying, the one where we feel most foreign, the one that is REALLY changing us.}) This was the result of a "yes" to God that has no foreseeable ending. The trip made us foreigners to an unknown country for 3 months but the TRIP made us foreigners to a whole new way of life: life as missionaries, and that lifestyle change doesn't go back to normal when we are back in America and it's not something we can board a flight away from when it gets difficult. We know that on this TRIP, no matter where in the world we are, at some point we will begin to feel more at home, but for now, no matter where we are (even when we are home with friends and family), it's as if we are sleeping on a pull out sofa in the home of an awkward friend from middle-school that you barely knew. It feels strange, it is foreign, and we may be a little bit different because of it (fore-warning), and that's okay.

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Actually, I hope we are different because of it and I hope it challenges others to look at life just a little bit differently too. Why are you where you are geographically? Is it because it's convenient, or because your family is there, or because it's what you're used to? Or is it because it's where God is calling you to live and serve? Because those are the people whom He has given you a passion for? And is that location your home? Or is your home wherever you are when you are where He has directed you to be? Home is where the heart is right? So where is your heart? Is it with friends and family, familiar street signs, stores, and food, or is your heart where you know God has called you to be? I pray that for me home is when my heart is, not where. Home is when my heart is content to be wherever my God would have me be.

// Johnny + Sam