Do you enjoy traveling?
Yes, I enjoy traveling. I like to see other countries’ structures, especially in the really old countries.
What are some places you have been to?
I have been to Croatia, Amsterdam, Ecuador, Rome, Paris, Canada, Puerto Rico, Panama, some Caribbean Islands, Mexico, Jamaica, Honduras, and Nova Scotia. Of course I have also been to a lot of places in the USA, including Hawaii and Alaska.
Why did you go to those countries?
A mission trip, a cruise vacation, or a business trip (some of the cruises were ones that I lead for businesses).
What country has been your favorite?
It would be hard to decide my favorite country. In the Caribbean, the islands were beautiful with sapphire blue waters and white sands. But in Croatia they have some really old history in their cities. We saw and walked through a Catholic church that was built in the 1200s. It was so grand. Then in Italy, we saw some beautiful ruins from the times of Christ. We walked into an underground prison that once held the apostle Paul. We stepped on the streets of Pompeii that were just like the cobblestones that Christ walked on. We saw the Pope and many beautiful buildings at the Vatican. In Ecuador, we visited jungle areas and saw beautiful birds, and flowers the size of dinner plates. And in our own country there are so many wonderful sites, such as the mountains in Colorado; the waters, flowers and sands of Hawaii; and the glaciers and mountains in Alaska. Michigan with its great lakes is a treasure.
What things have you noticed that other countries do differently than in the USA?
I think in Rome they are like us - always traveling fast, never slowing down to enjoy what is around them. In Ecuador, the pace is slower - there is very little wealth, so they spend time enjoying what they have. In Croatia, because of the war, they are a sad and angry people. Their beautiful buildings have bullet marks all over them from the war. Instead of crying about it all the time, they spend time with their precious families. Family is very important to them. Maybe the thing I saw most in the older countries (European) is they value family more than we seem to in the USA.
Did you find it hard to be social in other countries?
Well, the language was sometimes a problem, but smiles work a lot in any country. In Ecuador, I could not speak Spanish, but we used hand motions to communicate. Working hard along-side someone speaks louder than words anyway.
What weird foods have you tried?
In Ecuador I ate guinea pig (I thought it was chicken), and some chocolate covered ants. In Croatia I had borscht, which is a beet soup. People make it in the USA, I just never had it before. It was great. In Rome, I tried a lot of different pasta dishes. Also, I had some type of meat that they cook inside of bread. The bread gets really, really hard and they expect you to eat a piece of it along with the meat as a sign of good luck. I had to dunk it into my drink to get it just a little bit soft so I could eat it.
How has traveling impacted your life?
I have enjoyed learning about other cultures, and I think I have become more grateful for what I have. I also think that I am more aware of what’s important in life, like family, not stuff, such as money and material wealth. On the cruises, I became more aware of those who have and those who have not. Experiencing places where this has happened has made me a more generous person.
Can you give me some ideas on how international experiences can change other people’s lives?
Not only do you see the beauty of this world and creation, you hopefully will see how you can become part of helping things change for the better. We seem to always think that we have it bad or at least not as good as others. When you travel to third world countries, you see how blessed we are - and hopefully in your travels you will reach out to help others.
My grandma is well-travelled, and has even run a travel service, called Jackie’s Travel Service, for a long time. She hopes to travel more, and maybe explore inside the USA and find what treasures it stores.