I was on my morning walk through the neighborhoods where I live. The sun was young in the sky and the air was cool. I had just left the bus stop where my kiddos boarded their bus for school and the chug of exhaust from the diesel engine of their bus began to take me back…
I will always associate the exhaust of diesel with travel. My first memories being when I was a young girl growing up in Idaho when for three weeks of our summer we would travel to Arkansas to visit my grandparents via the Trailways Bus system. Usually it was my mom, my brother and me, as dad stayed behind to work. The trip would take us three days and two nights changing buses in various cities and sleeping akwardly in bus seats that reclined very little. I remember the stations…Salt Lake City, Utah being one of the largest. Here we would disembark from the bus onto a parking area full of other busses ready to take their travelers on. The diesel fumes were heavy and they all said to me…travel!
As I was musing on this memory, there came another memory also including a diesel bus or two, but this one was the city of Belo Horizante, Brazil. I remember being in the center of town in the summer of 1995 surrounded by thousands of people walking the streets and sidewalks, punctuated by mulititudes of homeless street children. Four year old girls carrying around 8 month old baby sisters or brothers on their hips. They ran in and out of the streets between cars and busses. Once in awhile I would catch the glimpse of a young boy standing on the back bumper of a city bus, holding on tightly as it wound through the streets. This memory made my heart ache again as it did in 1995 and stirred me to prayer again.
Walking past a home now and again where the aromas of their breakfast wafted out into the street reminded me of restaurants in Mexico. I smelled meats and spices and remembered the wonderful memories I made in that country with my husband and children. I loved walking through the streets of Zijuatanejo, eating in the little restaurants, talking with the merchants and locals and feeling God’s heartbeat for the nations. He loves each person He created and that love is enlarging in my heart.
There were the smells of the foliage in the morning dew which caused my mind to travel back to Switzerland…another beautiful land where the landscapes took my breath away. I felt thankful that God gave me the opportunity to travel there when I was 18. Everywhere His handiwork declared His glory!
I pass another home where the smells from their washing and drying laundry are identical to my next door neighbors laundry smells and I think of this place where God has placed me. Even my neighborhood is full of diversity…I have neighbors from the Bahamas, the Philipines, Mexico, and Pakistan. My responsibility is to be Jesus with skin on to as many of these as I have the opportunity.
I drink in the morning, relish the memories and pray. I smell the exhaust of another diesel vehicle passing and think of travelling again…Italy comes to mind and I pray for my friends and co-laborers in the gospel over there.
A scripture that has been burning in my heart that my friend Joy Chastagner brought to mind some months back is this: Acts 17:24-27
24“The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. 25And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. 26From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. 27God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us.
May God remind me in my walkabouts that He loves the nations He created, that He is particularly fond of the men, women and children whom He fashioned in His image with His own hands, and that I am called to prayer and service. vs. 28 says ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’
I am grateful for the ways God stirs my heart as the sun rises higher in the air and begin the walk back home dreaming of travelling again to another nation, and another city where I will see God’s fingerprints all over His people.