Saturday, January 10, 2015

A virtual trip to Taiwan

   Tonight I had the chance to hear a presentation given by Matt K's 20-year-old son, who just completed a two-year mission in Taiwan. It was at the LDS church up in Liberty, and it was very well-attended. While I am not a part of LDS, I've become great friends with Matt over the years we've worked together, and I was privileged to have been invited... As well as impressed by the feeling of family and community among the attendees.
   Cody spent two years traveling around different wards in Taiwan, spreading the churches message of Christ to the locals, in urban and rural settings. Prior to the trip, he and the other students from around the US went to Provo, Utah for an intensive two months of language and teaching training. Many students stayed in the Americas; Cody was one of the lucky handful that got to go around the world.
   I have long said that one of my only regrets in life is that I didn't travel abroad to live for an extended period of time, prior to beginning my full-time career. Of course I have always been thankful to have my career, but as I have grown and traveled, I have learned about the power of travel to influence your life in new and unexpected ways--to enrich your experiences and expand your horizons. So it was a real treat to hear some of Cody's personal insights.
   About 30 years ago, his father, Matt, did a two-year mission in Thailand. He told me some funny stories about hunting the cockroaches in his apartment, and nailing them to the floor. And about finding a centipede nearly 10 inches long while out walking. His friend and fellow elder snatched it up in his zippered notebook so they could take it home, put it in a jar, and study it. Another funny story: after Matt had been in the country for some time,he was riding in the back of a bus full of Thai people. Several Europeans boarded the bus at the next stop, and seems loud and rude. Matt muttered to himself, in tight no less, about these "stinking foreigners." And then shortly caught himself, because he realized he was actually one of them. But he had begun to feel more Thai than American.
   I hope that someday I will have the opportunity to travel abroad more frequently, and for longer periods of time. Though it is tough to be away from home, friends, and my pets, it's something that I really want for myself… and talking with Cody did not do anything to dampen my spirits about it!