My travel bug hit me long before my exposure to missions. Since my dear father's death when I was 4, my single Mother, having a school social worker's schedule, would drive to various parts of the US to visit family and friends during our summers off. One year (around the age of 58) she drove all the way to Alaska with her girlfriend and I. Neither one of us could drive (I was 8), so my brave Mom drove the entire distance, with me navigating. Then, when I was 13, I took my maiden voyage to Europe, which included Czechoslovakia, where many of my relatives lived. I remember beforehand pleading with my mother NOT to go to Europe...I was afraid something would happen. My Mother laughed, but not for long, as we missed the Russian invasion of Czechoslovakia by 10 days!!
The next year, I had the delightful privilege of travelling with my best friend Becky Flint to Dublin, Ireland, where her parents lead an Emmaus Bible School team for the purpose of evangelizing the Roman Catholic population. At the end of the summer, we travelled to Italy and Paris. I'm embarrassed to say that my impression of Europe was "a bunch of dirty old buildings". It didn't help that, after eagerly addressing a bookseller with my "one year under my belt" French accent, she annoyingly responded in English, "NO, I don't have a French dictionary." I quietly slinked away, bearing a red face and vowing to return some day...better prepared.
While in the Metro, Becky's father was pointing out all the awesome sites we would soon tour...Arc of Triumph, Eiffel Tower, etc. My eager eyes scanned the large map, struggling to contain my excitement as I burst out, "But, but, but...where's Paris?" Mr. Flint, with a mock tone of disgust said, "The whole thing is Paris"! Somehow, I thought I was looking at a map of France, but it was obvious to everyone that I did not excel in World Geography.
Becky and I still managed to giggle our way through Europe, pointing out the idiosyncrasies of each culture. We both remember driving up to the top of Mt Vesuvius in the cab of a most colorful and effervescent driver named Mario, who waved his arms so furiously as he spoke, that we were sure he would drive off the edge of the cliff. Being afraid of heights, I was not amused, especially at Becky's attempt to "look over the edge" of the volcano, to which the concerned tour guide, in broken English said, "No, no, Miss...you go down and come up next year!" I was thankful to finally be on "terra firma" as I made my way up and down the streets of Pompeii, my Dr. Scholl's wooden clogs alerting everyone within a half a mile of my whereabouts.
As you can see, travelling has been an enjoyable hobby of mine and one that has given me many hours of pleasure in the retelling. So, why wouldn't I want to expose my family to all the wonderful experiences I had as a child?