Wednesday, December 4, 2013

This. Is. Important.

Today we applied for Laila's passport.
It is suppose to arrive on Christmas day.
There is no better present I would like to give my children.
I told Laila today, "This means the world is now your playground! Where do you want to play first?"
She robustly responded, "Smart Cow!" (our local frozen yogurt shoppe.)

So maybe she doesn't quite understand the magnitude of the "whole world" yet. But I know she will.

I told David, this is such an important day for her, as important as the day she gets her drivers license, or even gets married. It is so significant. (He knows I'm fairly dramatic.)
Helping my children understand the world, and explore it all, has always been a huge goal of mine. Some of my best memories, and perhaps some of the most defining, in my life all correspond with a stamp, sticker, or punch in my passport. 

To me a passport is a really big deal.
I got a little emotional when we left the office.
To me a passport means... the world!

My parents did a wonderful job of helping my sister and I explore the world. And my grandmother has always been the source of my "gypsy blood" as my mom calls it. You see, she told my grandfather that she would not marry him unless he took her on an airplane. He was a man of his word, so they wed in July 1947 and hopped on a plane from Oklahoma City to Tulsa.
And she hasn't stopped since. She has been to all of the continents, and has taken her grandchildren with her to many of her destinations. When I was eleven she told me to pick anywhere in the world, and we would go. So we went to Spain, Portugal and Morocco. We still talk about that trip. And a few special stories.

It was on that trip, after a particular meal of pigeon and leeks in Morocco that many of our tour group mates were grumbling. When we returned to our hotel, which had open windows as the sand and winds blew in off the Moroccan coast, a woman in our group started complaining to my grandma about the sand on the floor, my grandma tells the story of me looking at the woman and saying, with all the innocence and honesty that eleven year olds produce, "If you wanted this to be like America why didn't you stay home?"

I remember being a little scared but mostly completely fascinated as we watched the easter parades in the streets of madrid (Think KKK meets bloody jesus statues, and ornate floats being carried on the backs of hundreds of old men).
I remember riding a camel into the sunset in Morocco, and being on my first nude beach.
I remember wandering the markets of europe with my grandma following closely behind me hoping I would remember the way back as I searched for the perfect gem to take home.
I remember riding the bus into the cobblestone streets, sure we would be wedged between the buildings.
I remember eating olives off the trees in Portugal and standing in the same spot that once Christopher Columbus had stood.
I remember watching snake charmers in Africa.
And tortoises in the Galapagos.
I remember my sister and I trying fruits we'd never heard of in Ecuador.
I remember her and I swimming with sharks and holding hands squealing into our masks.
I remember standing in the Colosseum and shuddering.
I remember feeling the walls of the catacombs in rome and crying.
And sitting in the ruins of a public bathe in Sardinia.
Mostly I remember the palpable feeling of history, of depth, of understanding, and purpose.
And each time, my world being put more and more into perspective.
Whether I was hiking the Great wall of China, or feeding orphans in Africa, the world was becoming smaller.
With each trip, stamp, and sticker, I saw God's plan. I saw God's people. I saw what was important and what wasn't. The cross-cultural importance of relationships, family, education, and unconditional love. Every trip helped bring me back home. To what matters.

As a teenager, I would say without a doubt, it was through my travel around the world, and my faith, that I realize how unimportant highschool really was, how important and wonderful my relationship with my parents and family was, and how much I really loved my home.

I still have my passports from growing up, my very first one that was issued at around four months of age, to the one I had to get extra pages for in my busy traveling years, to my current one. And I still look through them all! Each of those stamps, stickers, visas, and punches has a lot of power. A lot of stories a lot of meaning, a lot of depth and purpose.

I want my children to be citizens of the world. Not in a new world order kind of way. But in a, I live my life with perspective, kind of way.

The perspective that only comes from experiencing other cultures and realizing how small it all really is.

This is so important to David and I.

Do you have something that you want to instill in your children, something that is so important? How do you signify it?

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