The first three hours flew by. (Literally.) It was hour 14, 15 and 16 that got to me.  By that point, sleep was not going to happen.  My neck hurt.  My back hurt.  I was starting to go a little stir crazy.  In case you were wondering, row 56 seat E is not a first class seat.  
I was somewhere over the middle of the Pacific Ocean, roughly 7,764 miles from home (but who was counting!)
We boarded two different flights totaling about 20 hours of flight time – not including the layover in Taipei, Taiwan and the car travel from Eau Claire to Chicago.  By the time my plane landed in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam I had traveled over 8,300 miles and had been traveling for close to 30 hours.  
One of the interesting things about our travels is we crossed the international date line.  So we left on Sunday at 12:10am Central Time but arrived in Vietnam on Monday 10:05am IndoChina Time (a full 12 hours ahead of Wisconsin).  We lost a day.
My first memory of Vietnam was it was hot. The humidity was like nothing I had felt before.  I felt like the air was thick enough to swim in.  
As I remember my trip I want to share a few experiences with you.
The Memories
Let’s take a walk through memory lane!
Walking in a river in Mui Nay…

Swimming in the Pacific Ocean…

Walking through the Cu Chi tunnels…

Getting to experience a Conversation Room at the Master’s Cup Coffee Shop (A Conversation Room is a place where Vietnamese people come and practice their English)

Cafe Sua Da…(It’s so good… Who would have thought coffee, condensed milk and ice went so well together.)

Vietnamese spring rolls, cha gio (pronounced like “cha saw”)

(I may have eaten these everyday I was there…)
Teaching English
On Tuesday, August 8th, our team was able to work with a consulting firm that helps teach English to kids.

The picture shown is of a girl named Sarah, I was helping her with English vocabulary.  One of the words we came across was “lion”.  She then reached over, touched my beard, looked me in the eye and said “lion”.  She called me lion the rest of the time we were there.  My heart melted.  
The director of this consulting firm shared with us how important education was in Vietnam.  He also shared how important learning English was for these students.  The kids we were working with were having trouble in school and most were in poverty.  If they didn’t get an education they would continue the cycle of poverty, or worse, they’re risk for being trafficked increases.  It broke my heart.  I realized how important the director’s work really was.
The Challenge
It may come to a surprise to you, but I am not adventurous by nature. In fact, I am the opposite.  I am cautious and love to be at home.  However, I will say when ever I get out of my comfort zone and do something like going on this trip to Vietnam I have always seen growth in myself and in the team that came with me.  This fall, I want to challenge you to do something out of your comfort zone.  Vietnam did that for me in so many ways, between travel, eating, and cultural norms.  Growth happens through intentionality not through happenstance.  I want you to be intentional about your growth.
You may be asking yourself, “How do I get out of my comfort zone?”  Let me give you two examples:

  1. Pay for someones Starbucks who is in line behind you.
  2. Go on a missions trip.  Whether it is local or international, go.

Have fun this season getting out of your comfort zone!