One of the biggest incentives I have for taking this trip is to prove to myself and my family that the world is not nearly as big and as bad as we seem to think it is. Though current events are disturbing, they have taken on a different meaning for me since I have been in many of the places they are occurring. In 1999 Tom and I stood at the Israeli-Lebanese border and watched as laborers crossed back into Lebanon from their day jobs in the Golan Heights. In my mind, I can see those same people now fleeing from the invading Israeli troops, just as I would if my home and life were in danger. I have stood in the exact locations in Bali and Egypt where bombings have occurred. I can see street signs, storefronts, and faces. I understand that the people who inhabit these places are much like me. They love their children, wash their dishes, and yearn for a world at peace. As a result, I feel connected to what is happening rather than being frightened or disinterested. Aren’t I worried about the bombings in Mumbai or the uncertainty in Lebanon? On a personal level, no. The chances of my family being affected by a terrorist act don’t seem any greater while we’re on the go than when we’re standing still (we do after all live within 30 miles of the Centers for Disease Control and CNN). On a human level, absolutely. I get that we’re all basically the same, no matter what our garb or dialect. Moreover, I know that within 48 hours I could be almost anywhere on the globe–sharing, helping, experiencing.
Today was a fitting tribute to my burgeoning small world philosophy. Though I’m thousands of miles from home, I got to say farewell to one friend and welcome seven others to their new home. Oscar Moreno is on his way to El Salvador for two years to serve and to teach. His journey begins in Utah, where he will study and prepare for the next few months. The Jensens, some of our dearest friends from Atlanta, arrived on Sunday night to begin their new lives here in Salt Lake City as a result of Mike’s job change. Dax, McKane, and I picked up Oscar at the airport this afternoon, fed him an awesome Greek lunch, subjected him to three hours of shopping torture at REI (the hunt for gear continues), and then delivered him to the Jensens new home. (Mike will take him to the MTC tomorrow.) We visited for a while, snapped a few pix, and relieved them of two kids for the night.
Though we’ll go many months without seeing any of these fabulous friends, we know that the world is full of people a lot like them—people we will love and people we will one day miss. Fortunately, no matter where they move or where we travel, we will always be connected in this wonderfully small world.