"So many adventures, so little time" etfromnc's Profile
I have found VT to be an excellent source of information which I hope to continue to use as I see and learn more about our world. I also hope that I am able to give back to other VT members from the experiences which I have enjoyed and/or endured.
I sincerely do enjoy traveling and still would love to develop friendships with people all over the world through VT. I hope to share more of my experiences and eventually develop dozens, perhaps even hundreds, of travel pages but for now I am still working on that philosophy of travel. I think that many people travel solely for the purpose of saying, "I have seen the Sydney Opera House, the plains of Lassithi, the golden temples of Burma," and on and on and on. I enjoy those things as well but have discovered that those are not my primary purpose for travel. In my youth, I think that I traveled for the excitement of seeing new places but I very quickly saw that an opportunity to learn became much more important. Today, however, I still enjoy the sights and love to learn but those are not my primary reasons for traveling either.
In reflecting back over the past few years, it strikes me that my travel has gravitated toward education (of myself and others) and service.
In his description of financial personalities in his book "Why Smart People Do Stupid Things with Money," Bert Whitehead describes a "traveler" as someone who would rather spend money on experience than things.
This is the beginning of a new day.
I have been given this day to use as I will.
I can waste it or use it for good.
What I do today is important
because I am exchanging a day
of my life for it.
When tomorrow comes, this day will be gone forever;
leaving in its place whatever I have traded it for.
I pledge to myself that it shall be:
GAIN, NOT LOSS; GOOD, NOT EVIL;
SUCCESS, NOT FAILURE
In order that I shall not regret the
price that I paid for this day.
Several VTers use, "The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page," but until a few days ago, I had no idea of its origin. It was originated by Augustine of Hippo, who lived from 354 AD until 430 AD. I suppose he truly appreciated the joy of travel because it was certainly more difficult for him to do than it is for most of us in the 21st Century.
This year has been very eventful in so many ways. I attended a wedding in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, made my first visit to the Arabian Peninsula, and returned to the former Yugoslavia where I had the opportunity to attend the 2011 EuroMeet plus pre- and post-meets.
I am still concentrating on a long wished-for trip to north Africa which is now actually scheduled for this November. Unfortunately, my primary focus is on Algeria and I am finding it very difficult to work out visits to all of the places where I want to go. So far, I only have an invitation to visit Tindouf and have been told that I must have an invitation from an Algerian citizen and resident before I can go anywhere else. If any Algerians read this and would like to help me, I am most interested in adding Algiers, Oran, and Constantine to my itinerary but would love to see other places as well.
Any assistance regarding visiting Algeria will be most greatly appreciated.
I did make it to South Africa in 2010 but I had to delay the Pacific visit until next spring when I hope to visit Hawaii, the Samoan Islands, Kiribati, Tonga, and any other island nations in the Kiribati - American Samoa area.
This is not my personal story but I almost wish it were. At the very least, it helps me come closer to an answer to the question with which I started this page.
I sat, with two friends, in the picture window of a quaint restaurant just off the corner of the town-square. The food and the company were both especially good.
As we talked, my attention was drawn outside, across the street. There, walking into town, was a man who appeared to be carrying all his worldly goods on his back. He was carrying, a well-worn sign that read, 'I will work for food.' My heart sank.
I brought him to the attention of my friends and noticed that others around us had stopped eating to focus on him. Heads moved in a mixture of sadness and disbelief.
We continued with our meal, but his image lingered in my mind. We finished our meal and went our separate ways. I had errands to do and quickly set out to accomplish them. I glanced toward the town square, looking somewhat halfheartedly for the strange visitor. I was fearful, knowing that seeing him again would call some response. I drove through town and saw nothing of him. I made some purchases at a store and got back in my car.
Deep within me, the Spirit of God kept speaking to me: 'Don't go back to the office until you've at least driven once more around the square.'
Then with some hesitancy, I headed back into town. As I turned the square's third corner, I saw him. He was standing on the steps of the store front church, going through his sack.
I stopped and looked; feeling both compelled to speak to him, yet wanting to drive on. The empty parking space on the corner seemed to be a sign from God: an invitation to park. I pulled in, got out and approached the town's newest visitor.
'Looking for the pastor?' I asked.
'Not really,' he replied, 'just resting.'
'Have you eaten today?'
'Oh, I ate something early this morning.'
'Would you like to have lunch with me?'
'Do you have some work I could do?'
'No work,' I replied 'I commute here to work from the city, but I would like to take you to lunch.'
'Sure,' he replied with a smile.
As he began to gather his things, I asked some surface questions. Where you headed?'
'Where you from?'
'Oh, all over; mostly Florida ..'
'How long you been walking?'
'Fourteen years,' came the reply.
I knew I had met someone unusual. We sat across from each other in the same restaurant I had left earlier. His face was weathered slightly beyond his 38 years. His eyes were dark yet clear, and he spoke with an eloquence and articulation that was startling. He removed his jacket to reveal a bright red T-shirt that said, 'Jesus is The Never Ending Story.'
Then Daniel's story began to unfold. He had seen rough times early in life. He'd made some wrong choices and reaped the consequences.. Fourteen years earlier, while backpacking across the country, he had stopped on the beach in Daytona. He tried to hire on with some men who were putting up a large tent and some equipment. A concert, he thought.
He was hired, but the tent would not house a concert but revival services, and in those services he saw life more clearly. He gave his life over to God
'Nothing's been the same since,' he said, 'I felt the Lord telling me to keep walking, and so I did, some 14 years now.'
'Ever think of stopping?' I asked.
'Oh, once in a while, when it seems to get the best of me But God has given me this calling. I give out Bibles That's what's in my sack. I work to buy food and Bibles, and I give them out when His Spirit leads.'
I sat amazed. My homeless friend was not homeless. He was on a mission and lived this way by choice. The question burned inside for a moment and then I asked: 'What's it like?'
'To walk into a town carrying all your things on your back and to show your sign?'
'Oh, it was humiliating at first. People would stare and make comments. Once someone tossed a piece of half-eaten bread and made a gesture that certainly didn't make me feel welcome. But then it became humbling to realize that God was using me to touch lives and change people's concepts of other folks like me.'
My concept was changing, too. We finished our dessert and gathered his things. Just outside the door, he paused He turned to me and said, 'Come Ye blessed of my Father and inherit the kingdom I've prepared for you. For when I was hungry you gave me food, when I was thirsty you gave me drink, a stranger and you took me in.'
I felt as if we were on holy ground. 'Could you use another Bible?' I asked.
He said he preferred a certain translation. It traveled well and was not too heavy. It was also his personal favorite.. 'I've read through it 14 times,' he said.
'I'm not sure we've got one of those, but let's stop by our church and see' I was able to find my new friend a Bible that would do well, and he seemed very grateful.
'Where are you headed from here?' I asked.
'Well, I found this little map on the back of this amusement park coupon.'
'Are you hoping to hire on there for awhile?'
'No, I just figure I should go there. I figure someone under that star right there needs a Bible, so that's where I'm going next.'
He smiled, and the warmth of his spirit radiated the sincerity of his mission. I drove him back to the town-square where we'd met two hours earlier, and as we drove, it started raining. We parked and unloaded his things.
'Would you sign my autograph book?' he asked.. 'I like to keep messages from folks I meet.'
I wrote in his little book that his commitment to his calling had touched my life. I encouraged him to stay strong. And I left him with a verse of scripture from Jeremiah, 'I know the plans I have for you, declared the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you; Plans to give you a future and a hope.'
'Thanks, man,' he said. 'I know we just met and we're really just strangers, but I love you.'
'I know,' I said, 'I love you, too..' 'The Lord is good!'
'Yes, He is. How long has it been since someone hugged you?' I asked.
A long time,' he replied
And so on the busy street corner in the drizzling rain, my new friend and I embraced, and I felt deep inside that I had been changed.. He put his things on his back, smiled his winning smile and said, 'See you in the New Jerusalem.'
'I'll be there!' was my reply..
He began his journey again. He headed away with his sign dangling from his bedroll and pack of Bibles. He stopped, turned and said, 'When you see something that makes you think of me, will you pray for me?'
'You bet,' I shouted back, 'God bless.'
'God bless.' And that was the last I saw of him..
Late that evening as I left my office, the wind blew strong. The cold front had settled hard upon the town. I bundled up and hurried to my car. As I sat back and reached for the emergency brake, I saw them.... a pair of well-worn brown work gloves neatly laid over the length of the handle. I picked them up and thought of my friend and wondered if his hands would stay warm that night without them.
Then I remembered his words: 'If you see something that makes you think of me, will you pray for me?'
Today his gloves lie on my desk in my office.. They help me to see the world and its people in a new way, and they help me remember those two hours with my unique friend and to pray for his ministry. 'See you in the New Jerusalem,' he said. Yes, Daniel, I know I will...
'I shall pass this way but once. Therefore, any good that I can do or any kindness that I can show, let me do it now, for I shall not pass this way again.'
My instructions were to send this to four people that I wanted God to bless but I decided to share it here with the prayer that it will bless everyone who reads it.
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