Saturday, July 15, 2017

i’ve tried many times to quantify what i learned on my trip to europe, but i wasn’t able to force revelation of its own accord, so i’m just going to eke it out now.

i just spent two weeks in the czech republic, without my family but surrounded by people--some of whom i’ve known for years now, others i met the day before we started running the eight-day english camp--who believed in truth, as i do, and were therefore bonded by the spirit of likemindedness in Christ. the amazing thing is, as a Christian, there’s really no necessity to be like the other person in any other way. i had absolutely nothing in common with the people on the other team (not age, not life stage, nothing) except for our faith, but because faith is the most important thing in a good relationship, it also becomes the sole essential thing. all the other stuff--shared taste in food, books, whatever--is all just bonus.

we stayed in a triangle-shaped hotel on a green, green mountain and ate three meals a day: one at eight, one at twelve-thirty, and one at five-thirty. every morning, we woke up and went to do morning devotions at seven. we taught english and ran workshops and played games and, most importantly, built relationships with the campers and with each other.

here’s what i learned:

intention is everything. genuine relationships can’t be built on the sand of shallow questions and small talk. nor are they necessarily constructed well on foundations of shared experience. to be intentional is to seek people out, to refuse passivity and pursue activity, to ask the tough questions and not shirk from opposition. when you learn people’s answers to the tough questions, they’re allowing you to become closer to them. but people can’t answer unless something is asked of them. have the courage to ask the questions.

service is contagious. the little things are absolutely important--things like asking people if they’d like to have their water glasses refilled, or trying to be considerate of roommates you hardly know. if people serve each other in little ways, it creates an atmosphere of service, which causes other people to want to serve as well. and there’s joy in service for anyone who does so, even if he/she is not able to define it as such.

you only live once. the first time i heard this year’s english camp theme, i wanted to roll my eyes and say, “that’s so 2011.” this year’s theme was yolo, but the evening programs--which involved different speakers talking about the theme--really forced me to think about what yolo really means. our culture defines it as a term to use whenever we do something crazy or potentially regrettable. but when you think about it, you only live once also means exactly what it says: we only live once. so what are we living for? for whom are we living? why do we live?

if truth be told, if i weren’t a Christian, i’d be extremely different from the way i am now. i’d probably be agnostic. i’d be a lot more cynical, ambitious to a fault, and definitely more vulgar. i don’t think i’d be as introspective (or maybe too much so), and i would absolutely be a hot mess, trying to fill up my life with meaningless things, losing myself in stories and other people’s lives and my own ambitions. ultimately, though, i would get sick of avoiding the own tough questions, which i would refuse to ask myself. because they’re hard to answer. and i wouldn’t know how to answer them. and i might have spent my entire life that way.

going to english camp made me realize how meaningless life is without God in it. but the reason why i don’t think He’s a social construct is because of how beautiful creation is, the conscious moral awareness that we all have as humans, and the way everything makes sense in the way the Bible--and only the Bible--explains it. we are naturally depraved humans from birth; we do need a Savior; Jesus did come to save us.

i talked to this one girl at english camp about God, and she mentioned that she’s the kind of person who needs proof that He exists. which i completely understand, only the proof she wanted was standing right in front of her, and she didn’t see it.

because Christians’ lives are proof that God exists. how does a person do a complete 180-degree life turn and change directions of his own accord? answer: he/she can't. lives transformed, paths veering from one possibility to the other. what could have been for me didn’t happen. what could be for you doesn’t have to.

what’s your life’s purpose? & how did you come to that conclusion?

psssst. i made a couple of videos from my time in czech! czech 'em out HERE!


  1. That pun at the end cracks dme up. I do agree that conversations can't be built up on small talk. There are these two volunteers during my shift where we hardly talked at all, but while forced to engage on this long painting endeavor we actually had a fun time talking, despite one of them being too young to remember what MySpace was, which was what we talked about for some time. xD I'll be sure to check out the videos, Rachel!

    xoxo Abigail Lennah | ups & downs

    1. thank you, abby! (and i was making those puns all week, lol)

  2. It's funny, I've been thinking about "yolo" quite a bit lately. Like, we only have so much time, so how are we going to use it? It's super thought provoking. But then again, your posts always are.

    1. thank you for always commenting, grace anne!! you encourage me so much :)

  3. It's so true! It's easy to connect with others that don't have much in common with you when you're Christian. Though I do admit that I sometimes feel lost because I don't have much in common with a lot of the Christians here on the blogosphere.

    1. we're all different in our own ways, definitely! + i completely understand :)

  4. That's so cool that you went to Czech! One of my friends is going to college there and I'm going to visit in a few months so that's pretty exciting.
    (side note: this church I used to live near had a very cringe poster with this white guy skydiving and said something like 'You only live once! Sure 'bout that?'. I try not to think of this poster often because I'm not a fan) I prefer your interpretation of that phrase. I don't know what my life's purpose is, except that I want to work in a developing country, probably India (because I can speak one indian language badly! Go me!). I hadn't really thought about how being Christian, even if everything else about you is different, even if you don't have exactly the same theological opinions, can create connections between people. I really liked the way you phrased it!
    Shar@ Daylight Differentials


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