To all my traveling friends who don’t journal during their travels, JOURNAL WHILE YOU TRAVEL! This is something I do every time I go anywhere now but I didn’t do it starting out. It’s times like this that I wish I could go back and karate kick my younger self.
Fast forward 6 years after Peru and I embarked on another unforgettable adventure. This time to Norway and Sweden. I was invited by a dear friend of mine to go with her, her daughter, and her daughter’s best friend (all three amazing women and good friends!). As I said, I wished I had journaled during this trip. This is because I have the attention span of a goldfish and if I don’t write down certain things in new places, I will think “Oh wow, God just showed me something amazing!… Oh look! A mountain!” …Ok, maybe I don’t lose my train of thought that quick, (although I’d be lying if I said it’s never happened before) but If I don’t write things down, I soon am distracted by something else, i.e. goldfish complex. It pains me to say that I didn’t journal once this entire trip! I still remember the experiences, but reading journals from my travels make the trips and emotions I felt on them come back to life. So go hit up a TJMaxx and buy a journal!
While in Norway I had the opportunity to visit many cities, including Bergen, Voss, and Oslo. Norway is an amazing country full of breath taking scenery and intelligent, beautiful people. Beauty not only in appearance, (All my single friends, trust me, make the jump across the pond!) but also in how they interact with each other and how they take care of their surroundings. I remember a vivid sense of awe when we arrived there. The landscape plays an integral part of the Norwegian culture. For example, we passed more than one Viking burial mound that were several hundred years old, still undisturbed, in a country where all land is public domain (That means any human can camp anywhere they want). They respect the land, it’s history, and work hard to maintain the natural beauty of it. Every city we went to was very clean, the people active, and scenery so beautiful that even when you stood in the middle of it you questioned if it was real.
The highlight of Norway had to be kayaking through the fjords. Unfortunately, the only camera I took with me was my iPhone 5 (insert karate kick to past self here). I PROMISE my photography on my trips improves with time! The picture of the fjord above does NOT do it justice. I was kayaking in water 3,000+ feet deep, surrounded by mountains 3,000+ feet high. Waterfalls that were hundreds of feet tall looked like a leaky faucet on the side of these mountains. Kayaking there almost brought me to tears with how incredible it was. I kept thinking “God made this! How awesome is this world He has given us?” This particular excursion solidified a few things for me. First, that I needed to spend more time exploring and appreciating the beauty of the outdoors. Second, I love meeting people who are different than me. Although, even in the middle of a Norway we ran into a UC Bearcat :). Our kayak group consisted of a Canadian couple who were diplomats in Prague, a German professor, and a Norwegian teacher. I loved hearing their stories and why they chose to visit this amazing place. Lastly, I still remember the feeling after we left the fjord. It was a feeling of inspiration, excitement, and the need to tell as many people as I could about this amazing experience. It wasn’t until well after I was back home did I make the connection that these are the exact feelings people get when they encounter Jesus in a real way. When I look at the spiritual break throughs I have had since then, the feelings mirror when I was in that fjord. Those feelings were also the feelings I experienced in Peru. This is now always tucked away in the back of my mind. Chase that closeness with Jesus and to try and share it with others. For me, this has taken many different forms including my travels, a shifted viewpoint at work, and a different approach to my marriage. Overall, that trip lead to the realization that I had been just coasting through life with a “Meh” existence and that wasn’t going to cut it for me anymore. More importantly, that God had much more exciting things He wanted me chasing.
This trip definitely caused my mindset to shift. From then on I wanted to jump at adventure, and aggressively pursue things I felt God nudging me towards.
My next adventure started with a 4 hour turned 12 hour train ride to Stockholm, but more on that later…