Thursday, August 13, 2015

Choose Your Own Adventure--Part 2: Going Somewhere

Remember those Choose Your Own Adventure books that often seemed to involve capture by aliens and untimely deaths if you made the wrong choices? Last week we started our own Missionary Holiday version with Part 1. Once you make it all the way through Part 1, then I invite you to continue on this treacherous path with Part 2! 

Is it time for a shopping trip?
4. After trying the stay-cation for several years, you finally decide it might be worth branching out. You’ve saved up the money and remind yourself that mental health is important. Even Jesus went away up to a mountain to pray! Your vacation activities are simple--either you drive to a town with shopping or fly to a town with snorkeling. First you ponder the driving option.

Three towns are within driving distance (2-6 hours over very rough roads). However, you don’t own a car, so you either need to recruit some friends with vehicles or rent one. If you plan on driving, you need to not only make contingency plans for bridge wash-outs, criminal activity, mudslides, directions, motion-sickness, and fuel, but you also need to make sure you have a man in the car (not a given if you are a single woman).  Once you get to the town, there are a few more decisions to consider, all of which are equally complicated (housing, transport within the town, food, security issues). Do you...

...feel like your mind is going to explode and you want to devour an entire batch of chocolate chip cookies because of the stress?
    (Indulge your craving (though you might have to break up the melted-and-rehardened chocolate chips into dusty crumbs with a mallet) and begin to consider flying somewhere instead of driving. See paragraph 5.)

...decide to gather with a bunch of friends and do a whirlwind shopping tour that means you need a week to recover when you come home?
    (Pause for a moment to savor the new food you brought up, and then return to Part 1, paragraph 1, but add in all the work that piled up during the week that you were gone.)

You could be like Susie, waiting for a plane to refuel...
(photo courtesy of  Rebekah Drew)
 5. Five towns are within flying distance. You first will need to catch a flight out of your local airstrip (or you can drive to one of the local driving towns (repeat paragraph 4)). These flights can be quite expensive, and beware connecting flights and short time connections because often your home valley gets fogged in during the mornings and flights delayed. Once you get to the town, you now need to figure out driving transportation (repeat paragraph 4), along with all the complications of housing, food, and security. But, the water is pretty, you finally feel warm, and you see interesting coral. Do you...

...still feel like exploring this option?
(Read paragraph 4 to understand all the driving complications that you have taken upon yourself. If you still find yourself on this answer after reading everything twice, then enjoy your water holiday.)

...wonder if there is another place you could go where you could actually walk around at night and take public transportation without finding a token man to accompany you and where you could maybe do some shopping AND some enjoyable activities?
    (You are not alone! Continue on to paragraph 6.)

6. Suddenly, you find yourself opening up Kayak flight search engine and randomly putting in the names of cities in nearby countries. After you pull yourself off the ceiling when presented with the fares, your mind begins to race through a litany of questions—Which country? Which city? Which time zone? Where will I stay? What do I need to do—shopping? medical appointments? Which place accepts my insurance? Wait, how does the exchange rate work? Where is my credit card anyway? What time of year should I go to get the cheapest rates?  Will I know the language? How will I get around? Do I need a car? What’s my budget? How much luggage allowance can I have?  How many days of travel to get there? Where do flights connect? What do they wear I even have the appropriate clothes? How cold is it?

Your vacation-planning has turned the corner, now rivaling the complexity of a quantum physics manual. Do you...

...consider flying to your home country?
    (Why not go see your family and save much of the planning unknowns? Trek onwards to paragraph 7.)

....decide to tack on your out-of-country vacation with your next departure  for home assignment (a year and a half away) and just stay put this year...(return to Part 1, paragraph 1).

7. You merrily begin to dream about returning to your home country (perhaps the United States)—why not take a full month? After all, it’s so incredibly expensive, that you might as well try to get as much bang for your buck for those thousands you’re spending on the holiday. But, you are worried a bit. You're 17 hours ahead of your hometown, which means you’ll have to cross a lot of time zones...and everyone knows that the jet lag is much worse travelling east. You might even lose a full ten or more days to foggy memory and strange sleep cycles. Add that into the week of travel, and you only have 13 days of holiday.

Subtract at least three days of culture shock, one day dedicated to doctor appointments, and two days to buying lots of things and packing them in luggage or shipping them by sea freight. Don't forget that since your friends and church haven’t seen you in years, you probably will be asked to meet a few for dinner and lunch and coffee and perhaps give a quick testimonial at church and a Bible study--at least two more days.

So now you have five holiday days left to spend with your family, which may or may not emotionally tear you to pieces because before you know it, only moments after you said hello, you are flying across the ocean for a departure of another few years. Do you...

...decide that it’s all worth it—after all, you’ll see family!
    (Congratulations! You’ve had your holiday! Now you’ll need another one when you get back to your work country...)

...shed a tear or two, and move on to a different holiday plan....perhaps somewhere like Australia—cheap flights, same time zone, and speaks English?
    (Don’t worry, you’ll find the perfect holiday someday! You might have to take some time off of work to plan your vacation...but it’s all worth it in the end, right?)

Okay, well, it’s not always this difficult...but let’s just say the truth can be stranger than fiction! As for me, after five months of planning, I finally finalized my holiday plans for 16 days in Australia next month. Yippee! It will be an adventure!