There were so many blessings on this trip, both big and small….
- Cheap flights; only $4500 for long haul flights around the world (for both of us!) minus Jared’s $1000 AirNZ credit from the missed Malaysia trip in 2016
- We were given some American dollars, Euros and NZ cash by friends and family before we left which was a huge help financially along the way
- Tenants in our house taking care of our mortgage!
- All the wonderful people we met and reconnected with
- The Taxi paid for us by Village Hotel Changi and the change which paid for our breakfast.
- The lovely first-class host on Singapore Airlines who put together a bag of snacks for us to take at the end of our flight.
- Our passports were returned to us just in time in Cambodia after visa renewal
- Some very kind and generous friends offered to pay the cost of the car hire in Europe as a gift to us… a very big blessing!
- The car had an inbuilt GPS which we didn’t have to pay extra for
- We borrowed a Switzerland road pass (by borrowed I mean Jared scrapped it off a friends windscreen and re-plastered it to ours!)
- We had a European SIM card gifted to us
- We were gifted tickets to Europa Park in Germany
- Our friends paid for us to go skiing, to hot pools, to Orchestra performances and more…not to mention they fed us the finest food and gave us a place to stay!
- We only paid for 2 nights accommodation during 6 weeks in Europe!
- We had personal tour guides of cities!
- A bag of fruit given to us for one of our road trips
- We were taken out for meals many times, paid for by our hosts
- Our own apartment and space in Italy and a trolley full of food paid for us
- 2x free dentist appointments when my wisdom tooth got infected
- Catching up with family and fellow kiwis =)
- Gifts from our hosts
- Conversations of encouragement
- Returning the Noble Steed 2.0 in one piece, not even a scratch!
- The extra cost for winter tyres on the Average Steed was refunded to us
- Returning the Average Steed in one piece!
- We only paid for two nights accommodation in Canada
- Safe and mostly smooth flights around the world
- Parents who got up at 3.30am to pick us up from the airport and friends who surprised us in the arrivals lounge!
I don’t think this list quite encapsulates the many blessings we experienced on this trip. It was one of those times where we felt like we were walking in God’s favour. Which leads me to what I’ve been pondering….
Do Not Worry
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labour or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6: 25-34
When we seek first His kingdom and His righteousness (simply putting God first in our lives) He acknowledges us by giving us all we need (not to be confused with what we want!). Something that has absolutely astounded me is that we came home with enough money in our back account to fill up the car and buy some essentials at the supermarket. We didn’t run out of money or go without…God knew exactly what we needed on this trip and provided for us accordingly. We nearly cut the trip short in fear that we would run out of money (due to some unforeseeable expenses and changes before we left!)…but we both had a sense that this was more than just an OE…it was a God ordained trip where God was actively pursuing us, providing for us and preparing us for the next season.
Hence, we needed worry about where we will live, what we will do for work (Jared’s phone has already started ringing), what we will eat, drink and wear…God has all of that under control and we know that as we knock on doors in the coming weeks, He will open and close them as He pleases.
Returning to my comment that God gives us all we need… I feel it is important to highlight that following God doesn’t make our lives easier (some would say it makes it more difficult). There is certainly still mountains and valleys that we have to walk through and times when we feel like giving up…But, God gives us all we need in those times too. I’m not talking about financial or physical resources, but the characteristics and attributes necessary to walk those roads in way that honours and glorifies Him.
As we’ve travelled (and stayed regularly connected with our community at home) we’ve come across people who walk these difficult roads and we’ve certainly walked a few ourselves over the last few years; illness, addiction, relationship breakdown, miscarriage, depression, anxiety, conflict, challenging work and colleagues…we’ve met people who have pressed into God during these hard times and seeked first His Kingdom and His righteousness and God has provided for their every need; strength, comfort, peace, patience, joy…and we can certainly testify that He has done the same for us. He is a good God, and He is good all the time.
Most helpful travel tip: Buy ‘luggage organisers’ or ‘packing cells’… these are so handy for storing stuff you aren’t using at that time on the trip so that you don’t have to continually re-pack your bag.
Biggest regret: Not taking a jar of Marmite (there was so many opportunities to enjoy Marmite on freshly baked bread that were sorely missed!).
Best pizza: Hands down the best pizza was in Cambodia at an ‘Italian’ restaurant with Turkish chefs shared with our Swiss friends =)
Biggest surprise: Supermarkets are closed on Sundays in Europe!
Most Awkward Quote (by Jared): “I think I’m getting tunnel vision” (whilst driving through a 55km long tunnel).
Best bargain: The brand new Asics running shoes I found in a second hand shop in Canada for $8. Nana would be proud!