Living With No Cell Phone and Other "Essentials" - A Luke 10 Journey on the World Race
After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send workers into his harvest field. Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road.”
Before the World Race, I thought a lot about Luke 10. How radical is that - being sent out to do missions barefoot without as much as a purse? And why?
I talked at Training Camp about how I would love to go on the World Race with just a daypack - having the freedom to travel lightly, to only have a few things in my bag, to completely rely on God to provide whatever it is I need. I hoped that at some point on the Race, I could ditch some things that were weighing me down and live in a bigger sense of freedom. Living out of a big backpack and a smaller daypack was already pretty extreme, but I knew there were some things I was hanging onto that I needed to let go of.
Although I didn’t choose to live this way, God has led me to a Luke 10 journey in a way that has been totally unexpected.
You may have read my blog about being robbed at last month’s debrief. A little fabric backpack that came with my big pack was stolen - along with several items inside of it. My bible, cell phone, point and shoot camera, a few clothing items, my Eos lotion and lipgloss, hairbrush, suntan lotion, my passport, pictures of my family and a letter from my niece (the thing I think I’m the saddest about), a silver cross given to me before the trip, as well as my debit and credit cards and the cash I had on me were all taken.
The next day, I figured I might as well embrace what was already started - so I went through my pack and decided to mail home some things and give away some others. I passed on my GoPro to a friend who didn’t have a camera or the means to buy one but who wanted to tell stories through video. Last I heard he was using it every day. :) I also gave away my dressy pair of shoes and set my Chacos on the free table. Two of my squad mates decided to take turns wearing them. After starting with four cameras (my point and shoot, my GoPro, the camera on my cell phone, and my Canon DSLR), I’m now down to just my DSLR. I’m also down to just two pairs of shoes - flip flops and some tennis shoes. It’s definitely lightened my load and eliminated some clutter.
But stepping into this space of simplicity has allowed God to show up in big ways and ultimately, drawn me closer to Him. I first worried about my passport - as we were leaving the country in a day and a half after my things were stolen. My squad of around 40 had bus tickets purchased and honestly, the last thing I wanted to do was to stay in a hostel in Johannesburg, I just wanted to get out of South Africa. I had no idea how I would get a passport in literally one day - and our squad Mama Sharon had worked to get an appointment at the embassy and found there were none available. But one of our squad leaders (Leanne) and I headed to the U.S. Embassy in Pretoria anyway. After begging the guards at the front to let us in, I was allowed up. I have no idea how this all worked out, but after a trip to the ATM, a trip to get a passport photo made, and several hours waiting, I walked out of the building with a temporary passport in my hand. I’ve also been able to get a permanent one made in Botswana (I even got one with 52 pages - holla! Maybe one day I’ll fill them all).
The night after the robbery, a squad mate came into the room where I was staying. She had a handful of cash and handed it to me. I almost started crying - she said she didn’t want me to miss out on anything in between the time that I waited for my new debit card.
My teammate Taylor’s parents so kindly reached out to my parents right after it happened to tell them I could use Taylor’s bank account. My parents have been able to get money to them and very luckily, I’ve been able to have money on the race.
Sharon also gave me her sunscreen before she headed back to Texas which, again, almost made me cry.
My friend Julie has loaned me money for adventures in Victoria Falls and countless other people have stepped up to help out in big and small ways. I can’t even list them all but I’ll think of all the little acts of kindness and it just puts a big smile on my face. God was redeeming almost everything I had lost.
Except my iPhone. At Training Camp, Seth Barnes invited us to think about not bringing our cell phones on the race. He said one of the biggest regrets he heard from returning racers was that they’d spent too much time on their smart phones. I felt a tug and a conviction to leave mine at home, but I ignored it. But after having my phone taken from me, I knew I wouldn't replace it until I felt like it was time.
At first, I panicked every time I thought about contacting someone from home and realized I wasn’t able to, at least not at the precise time I wanted to. We only have wifi here at our ministry site, and at that it’s extremely slow. I’m used to texting my parents and friends from back home every day and at first I felt so uncomfortable not being able to. But once again, God has shown me that growth isn’t always pain-free. I’ve started praying for my family more and realizing that God will take great care of them while I’m gone, even when I’m not able to check in every day.
I’ve also realized some things about myself that aren’t so great. For instance, the first week or so that we were in Gabarone, I wasn’t able to get Facebook or any other social media sites to load. I realized I was more frustrated with this than I should be and eventually realized that I seek a lot of approval through social media. So perhaps this unintentional social media fast will be a great thing for me. God is showing me time and time again that my value and worth should come from Him and Him alone.
Not having an ATM card has been hard for me. I’ve rarely budgeted in my life, I usually just have a general/vague idea of how much money is in my account and if I’m broke, I don’t buy anything. I’ve realized now that I do need to start writing down where I’m spending money and holding myself more accountable to even small things I’m buying. Taylor has been amazing for working with me on my spending money but I don’t always want to bug her for money - but again, I’ve also learned something from this. I don’t always need a coke or a snack every time I’m craving one… and it’s okay to feel a little hungry from time to time. God will provide, and there have been times when I have been craving a cold soda or juice and have just had one handed to me. Pretty cool!
Also, when we were in Victoria Falls, we all woke up with nasty bedbug bites all over our bodies. When we got home, we’ve had to bag up everything in black garbage bags and set them out in the sun. Hopefully those suckers are dead now because bedbug bites are not fun! We don’t want to infest the apartment our friend Sadie has so kindly allowed us to stay in. So - basically everything we took to Victoria Falls is out of the mix for us to use or wear. That means no towel, pillow, bag or purse, and about half of my clothes. I’ve had to borrow things I thought I would never have to borrow before, but it’s making us rely on each other more - and it’s also kinda fun borrowing clothes.
?Living in more simplicity has also pushed me into a bigger mindset of community - literally having to rely on others to survive. I’ve been so far out of my comfort zone, but I’ve grown in leaps and bounds in ways I never expected before the race.
By the way, I’m writing this in Gabarone, Botswana in our apartment, listening to the neighborhood children sing songs outside the window. Our neighbor has a huge great dane named Jamal, who isn’t in the least bit threatening. He’s a big baby and scared of us. His owner, Freddie, is 19 and lives with his aunt and his little cousin, Junior, a little kid that always has a huge smile on his face and who claps when we come home. We’re leaving here in a week. I’ll miss Botswana and the people here.