Finding money, sitting in an airport for three hours, flying in a plane in the most uncomfortable seat for eight hours, meeting new people, hearing new languages, and seeing different cultures in ways you could never imagine. These are all different aspects that make up the experience of traveling overseas. I have been to three countries outside of the United States, and every single trip has been a new experience unlike any other. One of my trips was a short flight down to the Dominican Republic, but the other two were long flights to Brazil and England. I have had my fair share of traveling and I believe that my travels have been very important parts of my life and have contributed to who I am today. Two of my trips were mission trips, so I was able to see all parts of the countries and all of the culture, good and bad, that make up what each country truly is and not just the tourist version. Each trip has taught me something new and valuable, and all three trips have helped me grow as a person in ways that only traveling to new places can do.img_5272

Many people do not travel overseas or out of the country because of the cost. While travel can be costly, the trip you receive in return is worth it in ways that cannot even be explained. In my experience, I have never had the money just laying around to go on these trips. It took trust and discipline to save the money and to trust that God had a plan for me. Traveling to other countries teaches a person many different things. It teaches you about other cultures and languages, gives perspective of how blessed you are at home, and enables you to see ways you can better the world as a whole.  I have found that the most beneficial trips in my life have been mission trips. Mission trips teach valuable lessons as well as make raising the money a small task. When you are going on a mission trip, all of the focus is turned towards the power of God and His plan for your life.

My mission trip to the Dominican Republic was my first trip out of the country. I experienced ways of living in the world that I was barely even aware of. I never thought about what it would be like to live in a third world country where everything I needed wasn’t readily available to me. I had to learn to be comfortable in situations in which I would normally be uncomfortable. The people there only spoke Spanish, so I also had to deal with the challenge of not being able to understand everything they were telling me. Throughout the trip, I saw that the people of the Dominican Republic were joyful and happy with their lives, even though what they had in comparison to me was so little. Because of this trip, I realized the surplus of things that I have in my life that I do not need. It showed me that in order to be happy in life, you do not need material possessions; you just need friends and family to surround you and love you. My trip taught me that no matter my circumstance in life, I can always choose to be positive and joyful, because it is more than likely that I still have more than what somebody else has.

This past summer I visited Brazil and saw how much having a passion can lead you to happiness. Brazil was an amazing country; the people there were so charismatic and joyful about all aspects of life. The passion they had was amazing to see. Whether it was soccer (or futbol) or their love for God, they always gave everything they had and showed true passion. Brazilians speak Portuguese, which made it difficult to have conversations with them. However, the people I encountered in Brazil knew a little bit of English, and they were passionate about trying to learn more about me and my language. They taught me to always give everything I have in whatever I am doing and to always invest my whole self. They also taught me that the success you receive from something depends on the passion you have for it. If you are not giving your whole heart to something, then you are not glorifying God.


img_2800On my trip to England I saw many sights that put life into perspective. One sight I witnessed was Buckingham Palace and the changing of the guards, which was a really uniques experience to be a part of. England also showed me that other countries are successful and self-sufficient. Sometimes I live in a bubble where I think that the United States is the only country where life is good; England taught me that the world is much bigger than my little bubble.

Traveling overseas is an experience unlike any other. No matter the destination, there are always lessons to be learned. Though the cost or the homesickness can be scary at first, always remember that there is so much world out there to be explored as soon as we get out of our comfort zones and explore it. Whatever is holding you back from traveling overseas, find a way to push past it and make an overseas trip happen. The longer you put off traveling overseas, the more likely it is that it will never happen. There are many things to be learned from other countries and cultures, and the only way to truly learn those things is to be submerged in those cultures by visiting those countries.img_5478

by Hope Brakenhoff

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