You’ve never seen potholes until you’ve been to a Third World country. These roads aren’t fooling around. They have potholes that eat four-wheel-drive trucks for breakfast.
But that’s the thing. Those trucks are made to take it.
In my most recent trip to rural Haiti I personally witnessed a little Ford Ranger pick-up weighed down with people and baggage drive down into a pothole filled with water and emerge moments later out the other side, motor growling away and water streaming off.
The past three weeks I’ve been on 12 planes going to two countries and in three time zones. I’ve traveled through the air, down 16-lane freeways in Atlanta and over a rocky dirt track that passed for a road…on a good day. People often think that my job traveling the world and making videos about ministries and people and relief projects is really glamorous. I just laugh.
Because often the road gets a little (or a lot) bumpy. The plane hits turbulence. The truck gets eaten by a pothole. Some jerk cuts us off in Atlanta traffic and everyone has to slam on their brakes. We get hit by a motorbike. (Yes, this really happened). The road washes out and I have to hike up a massive hill in 100-degree heat and 90 percent humidity carrying a camera bag that probably weighs half as much as I do and dodging goats, children, and sewage.
Sometimes the obstacles in the road are unexpected. One day we were delayed because a huge black pig inhabited a massive puddle in the road in front of us. Completely unfazed by deafening horn-honking or the SUV creeping toward him, the pig was only persuaded to move by laughing locals chucking rocks at him.
Other times I’ve been distracted from my journey by sights both startling and rather horrifying, as in the case of this overloaded truck winding its way down a mountain road.
Although truth be told, sometimes it’s those unexpected bumps and obstacles you encounter along the way that make the best stories.
Every journey comes with its share of bumps and unforeseen problems that test my patience and sanity. Sometimes I begin to rethink my life choices. Why do I even try? It’d be so much easier to just give up. Find an easier road.
I could drive home on a smooth highway where people don’t use horns like they’re going out of style and sit at home in my air-conditioning and drink cold water that won’t make me sick. So why don’t I? Because the people at the end of the road are worth it.
These young students are growing up and trying to get an education in the poorest nation in the northern hemisphere. But they were waiting with smiles and hugs and great excitement when I got to the end of that road.
Did they know the difficulty of the journey I’d taken to be there with them? No. Of course, not. I don’t understand the difficulties they face every day, struggling to concentrate because the only thing they’ll eat that day is what the school gives them.
But they’re not any less important to God because their tough journey goes unseen by the rest of the world. And because I toughed out a few bumps, dodged a few potholes and sat in a plane for a few (okay, a lot) of hours, I got to be the one to hug on them and tell their story so maybe, some day, their school, their lives, can be rebuilt.
Maybe you’ve hit a few bumps in your road, or it’s taken an unexpected turn and some strange obstacles have cropped up in your path. Maybe your marriage is on the rocks, a boss or co-worker keeps getting in your way, or the responsibilities of life are trying to swallow you up.
Don’t give up. The people at the end of your journey are worth it.
On my way back from Haiti I flew back to Kansas for a few days and surprised my family and friends. It wasn’t an easy journey. Flights were delayed, I had a bad case of “Haiti stomach,” I was exhausted and the last thing I wanted to do was get on another plane.
But I did. You know why? I knew two of my best friends were waiting at the end of the road with hugs and love and as much Mexican food as I could eat. I knew my mom would come running down the front walk screaming and crying and hugging me like she’d never let go.
I had strength and determination to reach the end of the road because I knew the people waiting for me were worth every bump, every bruise, every long, cramped hour. And I’d make the journey again in a heartbeat if I could. So worth it.
Don’t give up on the people at the end of your road, just because you hit a few bumps. Or a pig. In the end, they are worth the journey.
What bumps and unexpected obstacles are you facing in your journey? What people make the journey worth the difficulties?