Wie ist Ihr Name?”
That was one of the few phrases I knew in the German language. In fact, I’m not 100% sure if it’s even correct. It was also the only phrase I could think of that would open lines of communication with the housekeeper at our German hotel, a woman whose name I later learned was Nadia.
After a quick introduction, I waved her over to my iPad. Nadia wrote down phrases and words in German she wanted me to translate. We had a full-blown conversation via Google Translator — how awesome is it that God can use technology for such a sweet purpose?
She pointed to a crocheted scarf hanging on a hook and asked if I had knitted it. “No, I wish I could make something that beautiful!” (Or I said something along those lines, but in German and in Google’s voice.) Nadia spoke of her passion for knitting and crocheting, saying she would bring me a sample of her work.
The following day, Nadia walked up to me with a huge grin on her face and her hands behind her back. She pulled her hands forward, and I saw she held two beautiful house slippers — red and blue yarn knitted together in the perfect shape of German clogs. We didn’t have the iPad at that moment, so we were forced to communicate only with our hands. She kept pointing at me as if to say, “This is a gift for you.” I kept shaking my head in disbelief.
Why would someone I hardly knew want me to have such a beautiful gift she had made with her own two hands? I mean, I didn’t even speak her language.
But words were not needed here.
She gave me those slippers, so freely, so thoughtfully. I did not see it as mere coincidence that she gave me a red and blue pair. The colors boasted of freedom, of America. They were specific to my country.
Nadia didn’t expect anything in return. Her gift was genuine.
It’s amazing how something this simple would draw us to the cross, but isn’t that the beauty of Christ? I’m humbled by the sacrificial gift of Jesus, of His blood, of His forgiveness. He has freely given us the gift of salvation, painted in crimson and cleansed to pure white. He has given us the gift of freedom, of a veil removed, of eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
With those carefully crocheted slippers, I was reminded of Psalm 139:13. “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.” Nadia crocheted these shoes with intricacy, but how much more did God delicately knit me together in my mother’s womb? How much more does He know the pattern of my heart and my thoughts?
There is no language barrier with God. He speaks our language.
And He still chooses me. He still longs to know me and for me to know Him. He desires to continue knitting our lives so perfectly into a beautiful work of art that reflects His glory. This is the most precious gift.
The Beauty of Travel
Experiencing God’s story in a different culture is one of the many beauties of traveling. Through each step, God never fails to reveal His glory. We’re removed from the monotony of the day-to-day, with the freedom to explore the world, to explore the heart of God in another perspective. The darkest, ugliest places scream for the hope of Christ. His presence alone envelopes us in peace.
He reveals Himself through dangerous hikes that lead to majestic views, through the freshly laid snow on evergreen treetops, through historical monuments and giant cathedrals, through walking the same steps as Jesus walked on the Via Dolorosa and standing atop the Mount of Beatitudes, through shuffling our tiny toes in the sand beside a vast cerulean ocean, through the tall waterfalls hidden in the crevices of massive mountains, and through the gift of crocheted slippers from a new friend who doesn’t speak our language.
Eleven Countries in Four Years
After our wedding in May of 2010, my sweet husband JD and I moved to a little bungalow beside my grandparents in Georgia. Soon after we married, we began a blog called Jitney’s Journeys. It originally began as a means for our friends to keep up with us, as a peek into our newlywed journey.
Little did we know God had much bigger plans for this little blog of ours.
In June, 2011, a company in Alabama offered JD a job as a systems engineer. This job would consist of a hefty travel schedule, so we decided I would not work outside of the home in order to satisfy the requirements of dropping everything to travel with my husband.
What a blessing and crazy learning adventure this has been! The theme of our marriage and blog for the following years has become this:
We are newlyweds, seeking out adventures in castles and meadows; mountains and oceans; and most importantly, in the arms of Christ. Airplanes seem to settle our spirits more than rattle them, and there is nothing more precious to us than experiencing all of these things together as husband and wife.
The greatest challenge is to not merely see these trips as simply for business (or vacation, on my part). It is to see these trips as opportunities to grow in our marriage, to grow in the Lord, and to be the aroma of Christ. Though these trips are not designated as mission trips, we understand we are still called to follow Christ and proclaim His glory everywhere, and we are able to act as vessels for God to spread the fragrance of the knowledge of Him everywhere through us (2 Corinthians 2:14-16).
It is definitely something we are still learning.
Into the Unknown
The absolute greatest joy of traveling is being able to travel together. Laughter, uncertainty, embarrassment, fear, joy, fantastic and/or terrible food, sickness, mispronounced words, panic — these are the things that have brought us closer to each other. God has revealed both truths and lies in our marriage. He has shown us how to balance out each other’s emotions. When I’m paralyzed by fear, God gives JD the strength to help calm those fears and literally carry me if needed. In times of frustration, God has given us grace to deal gently with each other’s hearts.
The world has become a treasure map for us, mapped out by God with only Him leading the course of adventures. He has hidden both tiny and massive treasure troves along the path, comprised of beautiful views and wonderful people, some so deeply tucked away that only JD and I can find them with His guidance.
It is a glorious privilege to walk through these different countries together, beholding God’s Word as Truth. “Look among the nations, and see; wonder and be astounded. For I am doing a work in your days that you would not believe if told” (Habakkuk 1:5).