The Devil is in the…

Over the last three weeks I have been planning and plotting the logistics of my upcoming trip to Northern Europe and Scotland. I leave on September 26th from DFW airport. I’m flying to Miami, then Paris, France. From there I hope to meet with a local pastor for tea, take a quick picture of the Eiffel Tower with my iPhone, and drive across France to Belgium and the Netherlands to meet with two more pastors. From there I plan to fly to Edinburgh, Scotland, for the next six weeks of my life. I have busy plans from October 11-18 but everything else is still up in the air. It’s not from a lack of effort. Money, yes, but effort, no. I just know that I fly home on November 13th.

I’ve been so engrosses in planning lately that when I go to bed every night, I have numbers swirling in my head in three currencies: euro, pound sterling and U.S. dollar. I also have highway names, lodging details, flight numbers, and dates. I’m a mess! Through this process of trying to find transportation and, most importantly, shelter I’ve learned a few things about logistics.

  • First of all, I’ve learned that not having secure and definite lodging is terrifying as Sept. 26th gets closer. The ticket has already been purchased. So that’s a certainty. I’ve been searching and inquiring for weeks now at various hotels, B&Bs, apartment agencies and churches looking for a place to stay in Edinburgh. I’ve been met with utter disappointment so far. I’ve had a lot of good ideas but the cost of lodging is high, even when it’s considered a steal. For example, if I was going on a week’s vacation, I’d die for a bed and breakfast at only $40 a night or a hotel at $49. (Breakfast and quaint 18th Century dwelling included.) That’s awesome! But my mission this time is to use Edinburgh as a living base for 32 days and not seven. I want to embed and interact; to have a place to put my stuff so I can be free to be missional and build relationships. But 32 days is a month’s lodging. My budget is tight at $1,500 for lodging during the entire 46-day trip (if I can raise it). That’s $32.60 a night reserved for lodging that I cannot find. Terrifying.
  • Second, I’m learning that the time difference between here in Texas and Europe is uncomfortable. I have to get up at 2 am if I want to call someone early in their day. By noon (Texas time), most people stop answering their phones and emails. The U.K. is six hours ahead of me and France is seven. International rates are more than $1 a minute for me. Email has been unreliable. So the distance is rather frustrating. I long for the day I can walk into a letting office (real estate) and talk to someone face-to-face, which is what I prefer.
  • Third, I’m learning that faith is the hardest part of planning a trip. I’m going on faith and the Lord has provided for me airfare to Europe and meetings with several pastors in northern Europe. He has also allowed me to meet potential team members via Skype and provided a place to stay in Belgium. But He’s withholding other details from me, if He ever arranged them, that is. I’m not sure if the Almighty is supposed to be my travel agent or not. Oh His ways are beyond me! I’ll have more to say on faith in another post.
  • Lastly for now, I’m learning that having “days to kill” is not fun to plan. I have a few “tween” days during my schedule, rest days, I guess, but days in which I could do something fun. But what to do? How to be responsible? How far can I go? Should I go somewhere? Help! If I was on the road in New Mexico, my favorite vacation spot, I’d just chill down some dirt road in my car and see where it takes me. Improvise for adventure’s sake. My camping gear is in the trunk because that’s my thing, so I’ll be fine in almost any circumstance. But not overseas. I don’t have a car, don’t trust these roads, have a limited budget and don’t know how far I can go and still get back. Too many unknowns for a planner like me. And this time my tent stays at home. Besides, it’s 45-55 degrees with intermittent rain all the time. Not ideal camping weather!

Travel is tough and logistics are hard. I’m going on faith, trusting that the Lord will provide the funds I need to lodge during my trip (sleeping in airports and train stations is not ideal) and the people of compassion to provide for my needs when I get where I’m going. The gift of mercy is like a ruby in the Christian’s crown, and the gift of hospitality an emerald. Blessed are the believers who wear that crown!

Pray for me, brothers and sisters! And If you feel led to come alongside me to help, please click here for information on how.

— John