The longitude of Columbus, Ohio – the place I call home – is 83° W. On the other side of the globe, at 105° E, lies Phnom Penh, Cambodia. While they are not exactly 180 degrees apart, they are about as close as they can be to halfway around the world from one another.
Over the past day and a half, a small group of friends I and made the 30-hour trek to the other side of the earth to visit the kids living at Asia’s Hope homes in Cambodia. This trip is unlike any I have ever taken. I have always loved adventure and new experiences. And I’ve been fortunate enough to have traveled a fair amount in my lifetime, having set foot in a dozen countries and a little over half of the states. I am grateful for the opportunities I’ve had to see so many beautiful, amazing places in the world. But my cultural experiences and worldview remain relatively narrow when compared to the vast diversity that exists around the globe. While I’ve crossed the Atlantic Ocean on several occasions, this is my first trans-Pacific flight and my first time outside of North America or Europe.
While this trip may have seemed in many ways to have come out of left field to those who know me, the story of how I got here actually began about two and a half years ago. I am beyond excited about this latest chapter. And it’s a story I think is worth capturing – at the very least, to better remember it myself. But rather than simply journaling, I’d like to invite you to follow along if you’re interested. To be honest, blogging seems awkward to me, as I am generally a fairly private person. But a good friend of mine, who is himself naturally reticent to tell his own story, showed me the value in sharing the things that are important to us. He likes to call it “inviting others into his joy.” And indeed – his joy, passion and purpose have been contagious, and I am here in large part due to the inspiration I found through the work he and so many others in my life have been doing.
I can only hope and pray that my story, too, may have some shred of value to even just one other person. It’s so easy to merely scratch the surface of whatever we do, distractedly jumping from one thing to another without finding any true depth of meaning. I’ve certainly been guilty of that in… well… almost everything I’ve ever done in my life. But I’m learning to commit more fully, engage more deeply, and connect more genuinely with other people. I’m trying to set aside my own selfish nature and make a positive impact on the world in some small way. This trip is one of the latest, and hopefully among the greatest, pieces of that picture.
Taking time to write about this trip will encourage me to focus, organize my thoughts, and better remember this journey. So this is really mostly for me. But if you think you might find some joy, inspiration or encouragement here, you are warmly invited to join me.
So why Cambodia? Why Asia's Hope? Answers to come... tomorrow. For now, I'm putting my head on a real pillow for the first time in over 54 hours. Exhausted, excited, relieved to be here... and eagerly awaiting what lies ahead in the coming weeks.