I hate routine. I like living spontaneously. However, much of what constitutes my days are routine. Conversations change, faces change, places change here and there, but I wake up and start my day with prayer and tea morning after morning. Today I am in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Today nothing is the same. I woke up in my own apartment which is quite a bit different than my room back home. For breakfast I ate eggs over rice with spicy fried kale which is quite a bit different than my overnight oats. My friends took me to Mountain Coffee Bar and my iced americano was quite a bit different the Hermany’s kitchen and my K-cup. As I sit here at the coffee bar tucked away under vine covered shade nestled in a back street of the city surrounded by shades of green and brown unlike anything I’ve ever seen back home, I wonder how I could possibly soak it all in.
I have a lot to take in and a lot to process through. I prefer to process by myself through prayer, writing and journaling. It keeps me focused and keeps me present. My thoughts tend to be scattered and I have a hard time keeping them organized. So here is my attempt at being organized. With five million things to say, I narrow it down to three. My first three days in three words..
COMFORTING. I have new grounds to navigate, a new language I want to attempt to understand, new foods, and a new culture to experience. Some things, however, I find familiar. Rice, for instance, seems to be a staple food here. Bland white rice takes me back to Uganda. There is comfort in that. The greenery also reminds me of Uganda. The colors of the flowers and the shades of green are vibrant and lively. Though seemingly odd, the unfamiliarity and the foreignness of this place also brings a sense of comfort. I like it. Possibilities are endless, and my sense of wonder is higher, wider and deeper in the midst of adventure.
CONFLICTING. When I travel, I struggle with finding the steady path between tourist and pilgrim. I want to take pictures and see the grand sites, but I also want to spend time at places like Mountain Coffee Bar and stroll the streets with no agenda. Why? Because pilgrims seek a place to call home. Pilgrims look for a place to stay, seek comfort and embrace community. Tourists come and go. They pop into a community and drop out without allowing their surroundings to go beyond the surface of their hearts and drench their spirits. Tourism is good. I have been a tourist, myself, on numerous occasions, but there is a time and place for being a tourists. With only one month in Chiang Mai, I want to find a balance between both.
CHALLENGING. It feels like I’m going through a weird 20’s life crisis. The questions I pose to myself are cliche, but feel very real nonetheless. Who am I? What are the things that get me excited? What activities do I enjoy? What things and activities do I dislike? If you know me, you’ll know that I am a people pleaser. My favorite two phrases are “I don’t care,” and “Whatever you prefer.” Genuinely, I don’t have preferences most of the time, and one of my passions in life is to encourage others to feel like champions in their own skin. I love to encourage others and make them feel loved, but many times it becomes a risk to my own happiness. To be honest, I feel uncomfortable making decisions. I have a type B personality, easy come easy go, but God has been telling me for quite some time that I have a lioness inside of me. I don’t necessarily see myself as bold and vocal as some people see me. I admit, I have become a bolder over the last year or so, yet God is still calling more out of me. On this trip of self-discovery, I wake up and call upon the Holy Spirit to guide and direct my steps. May I be led to people and into conversations and situations where I am both able to champion others while God champions me.
Three words. Three days. Chaing Mai, Thailand. Something tells me I shouldn’t have already bought a return ticket home. I forgot how much I thrive on culture and new adventure. Our world is certainly a beautiful place.
*Over view of a portion of Chiang Mai from the rooftop of a mall