Tag Archives: .JOSH & .SARA

This Adventure Made Possible By…

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Anna Maria Esposita for finding us on the side of the road in Salerno, putting up with our feeble attempts at Italian, and magically making our luggage appear out of nowhere.  Maya, for introducing us to AirBnB in the first place…our travels will never be the same.  Our barista in Vietri Sul Mare (thank you for the doughnuts, we hope you made it to Australia!), and our wildly flirtatious maitre d’ (that wine was impressively strong!).  Fernando, for the ride to the Tiber (we’re sorry if we gave the impression that we wanted to boat back to Rome).  Pope Francis for instilling humanity into our visit to the Vatican.  University of Manitoba College of Medicine for changing the direction of our lives while sitting in a Roman burlap tent!  Jamie Pierce, for pointing us in the direction of Cinque Terre in the first place.  Kaya and Aeden for being the best roommates we could have asked for, and Sarah, Alicia, and Stacey for getting lost with us in one of the most beautiful places on earth.  And for the calamari cones.  Genius.  The Lemon Man, for delicious homemade wine with a side of really disgusting jokes, and the Pizza Man for abusing/believing in your employees (either way, you made a pizza in record time, well done!).  Pak Kashmir Doner Kebab for starting a 3-month-long love affair with kebab…and for not judging us when we came back twice in one day.  The Sprachcaffe receptionist for helping two confused travelers find a place to sleep in a language school.  Pietro for being a (very charming) walking encyclopedia of Florentine espionage.  All’antico Vinaio for your legendary sandwiches and free wine refills (no, seriously, it’s for real!).  The lovely couple who shared coffee with us on the train to Venice.  Archie & sons…your front hall will forever evoke in us a sense of oriental mystery.  The kiosco girl (and all of Vienna, for that matter) for your patience as we realized we knew literally NO Deutsch (“Card!…48?”).  The Musikverien Usher for engaging us in a Viennese musical intrigue and, therefore, much better seats!  Our Bulgarian/Brazillian (Bulgrillian?) cellist hostel roommate.  We tried to find you on iTunes but alas we were…so far…but…so close.  The Heinrich and Kress families for welcoming us so generously into your homes (and travel snacks that nearly broke the bus tables!).  Artur & Irina, we feel like we have a real home in Germany thanks to you.  Robert, Christian, and Erwin, we hope we can jam and play Dutch Blitz again one day!  Johannes for an unexpected evening of German tango (we’ll bring our dancing shoes next time).  Julia & your roommate for making us feel so at home in Köln.  Viel Glück to both of you in your new jobs!  Oma for always talking about your home country and inspiring us to retrace your Sunday walks down the Rhine.  Maybe one day we can go back with you!  Linda, dankjewel for your bikes, your lovely attic, and taking a chance on us as your first AirBnBers!  Edwin and Farah, for taking the time to hang out with us even with your wedding being a week away.  Once a WOOFer, always a WOOFer (ps come to Manitoba, we’ll take you to the snake pits!)  The stars, for aligning so perfectly as to allow us to have a lovely lunch with Dorien.  The Alma Dixons for getting us to and from Europe in the first place (Mom, your axiom of ‘would you rather have stuff or memories?’ has successfully stuck with me into adulthood) and for showing us all the places you always talk about.  The Farnham Dixons for a lovely afternoon and some authentically British fish’n’chips (sans mushy peas, thank-you!).  Wendy for taking this whole motley crew into your home and showing us around Glastonbury. Elly for introducing us to your family (I cannot imagine a more adorable kid to blow bubbles with than your granddaughter) and an evening of reminiscing about icebergs and penguins.  Pete & Patricia for the most incredible Welsh hospitality, and for driving us all over the country at all hours of the night.  Mark Hanford for keeping us simultaneously amused and not dead as we threw ourselves off cliffs into the sea (still waiting for those carpets!).  The disembodied Welsh couple whose voices helped us find our way out of the mist and back to the path somewhere on Mount Snowdon.  Jack Johnson, for being you, and for entirely coincidentally being in Paris at the same time as us.  Andréanne, for showing us around your beautiful new Swiss home.  Irene and Martin for sharing so many things with us: your inspiring work and outlook on life and faith, the truly breathtaking landscapes, and yes, the little bears :P.  Andreas and Simone, also for sharing so many things with us (like mother like son, eh?): your friends, your family, your food, your car, your bike…. That night with the giant map (and the many road trips that ensued) is still a memory that we talk about regularly!  Aric and Gabriel, for being as excited about the high-ropes garden as we were and never judging us on our (lack of) Swiss German. Joël for sharing your beautiful pays et famille. Yannick for the best duck I’ve ever tasted, and Hélène for showing us the work you’re doing to help new immigrants become self-sufficient in Toulouse.  Ron, Nicole, Aimée, Sean (and yes, Cougar) for making us recognize the name Carcassonne, even if we’ll never pronounce it properly.  Les Cabys des Taillades (et oui, de Paris aussi!) for sharing your passion for history, many hours of games (we now have our own Möllky set!), French puns, and more wine and cheese than any North American could comprehend.  Mami Caby, for a beautiful afternoon in St. Jean du Gard, and the silk scarf that’s currently on display in our living room.  Isaac and Sylvia of JUCUM Barcelona for the generous hospitality, the 2AM tour of your majestic city, and showing us what we truly believe is the best beach in Europe.  Hind, Nour, and Adam for helping us finish off the bag of snails and confirming everything we’d heard about the welcoming nature of Moroccans.  Nour, of Sahara Desert Crew, for an unforgettable few days of sights and culture unlike anything else we’ve ever seen (also, your mad photography skills. ‘Nuff said.).  Cafe Restaurant Nora, for providing a literal oasis in the desert (Nothing tastes as good as Berber pizza and Berber whiskey at +50C!) The Samnoun family for taking us in when our hostel was suddenly infested with bedbugs, and Bousha for introducing us to the madness of the Medina (and many, many friends ;)…)

And of course, contributions from VIEWERS LIKE YOU!

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Lessons for any side of the fence

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I know Josh said in the last post that our time in the community was an “eye-opening challenge in more ways than one” …and then only mentioned one. Never fear, world, we are still capable of counting, so here’s number two. While the first was more of a ‘what not to do’, this is definitely a ‘what TO do’.

Immediately upon arrival, it is easy to see that these people define “servant love.” I have never met people who take such joy in serving others, be it running to get breakfast for us, or slipping out of their morning prayer meeting to bring us mate, or showing up at our bedroom door with a welcome basket full of fruit and flowers. The first thought on their minds is how they can be showing tangible love to their very literal neighbor, i.e. whoever happens to be standing next to them. Their love for us is so genuine and so constant that after only a week, we felt right at home with them and furthermore, we found ourselves wanting to find ways to serve in return (clearing tables, washing dishes, giving English lessons). They are visibly transformed by their joy in Christ: it is evident on their faces, in the eagerness with which they meet each new day, and in the genuine pleasure they take in serving others in the hope of sharing Christ’s love.

As Hannah (one of my favourite members of the community) told me, “When you are connected to Christ, when he is your purpose for living and your source of strength, you can’t wait to get up in the mornings to serve him! The more you serve him, the more you are filled with his joy. By serving others, you then get to share that joy with others!”

This was not a foreign idea to either of us, but what was truly breathtaking was the way these words were actually lived out, the way this joy visibly transformed these people. Obviously, they have given up everything (a “normal” life, for example) to share this love with each other and their guests, but without a hint of regret or sadness. They are very literally joy-full. So I guess the second challenge is this: what is it that holds us back, as followers of Christ, from being SO filled with joy at every opportunity to serve?

Lessons from the other side of the fence

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Okay guys, time for a pause in the chaotic excitement of saratreetravels for a couple of more serious thoughts. When you hang out in a messianic Jewish commune during Yom Kippur, serious thinking is bound to happen!

I guess the first important point is that these people are not actually messianic Jews. They are believers of the gospel who also adhere to many of the Old Testament Jewish traditions, but they very much have their own set of beliefs, which has been an eye-opening challenge to Sara and I in more ways than one.

One of the foundational beliefs of this place is that communal living is an essential pillar of salvation, and that Christianity has actually rejected the gospel by moving away from this lifestyle. They believe that by sharing their lifestyle (which is, no doubt, very beautiful) with others, they will eventually convince others to join them and in this way bring about the kingdom of God. What this boils down to for us is the feeling, from some members of the community at least, that we are being treated as projects, subtly interrogated and prodded into joining their ranks.

Being long-time camp counsellors and youth leaders, we are accustomed to sharing the love of Jesus Christ with others, and it brings us joy when we see people changed by it. It’s a scary truth, however, that we may also be accustomed to sharing that love ‘with strings attached’, so to speak, getting to know people with the ulterior motive of ‘converting them’ or asking leading questions to get them to give us the correct ‘church answers’. Having now been on the other side of the evangelism fence, we can safely say it is a very dehumanizing experience, being surrounded by people who only care about the parts of your life that fit into what they believe is good and right. I do not believe this is the love that Jesus intended us to share with the world. In order to truly love people, we need to be willing to genuinely listen and care about all parts of their life that are important to them, even if they’re not a part of our beliefs.

Our time here has really challenged us to think about how we approach relationships, especially in the camp/church context. If we don’t have a genuine interest in who someone actually is right now, what right do we have to be interested in their immortal souls? My prayer is that this will lead to more real relationships being built and more real conversations being had, which I believe this is the vision Jesus was intending to pass on to us in the first place.