Asia, Auto, Food, Health, Missions, Religion, Travel

Not of this World

I’ve done it, guys. I think I finally have mastered the art of riding side saddle on a motorbike. Hands politely in my lap, balancing carefully as we go around the corners. I’m officially a Southeast Asian lady. 
So far, I think I’ve had my picture taken about 73 times since I’ve been here. This morning, I saw one of the ladies in our nutrition training session trying to take a picture of me as we were preparing to begin. So, I stopped what I was doing and stood still to smile for a picture. Because, if you’re going to take my picture, I atleast want it to be a good one. Then, that opened the door for personal pictures, so some of the other women took pictures with me. 

I forget sometimes that I stand out here. I’m trying my best to blend in. I wear the Lao skirt. I sit side saddle on the back of the motorbike as we navigate the streets of the town. I know their greeting, so I greet the people that I meet in their own language. I fold my hands and bow politely when I meet someone. 

Today, one of the women brought me a Lao traditional basket of black rice (because I had asked some questions about it yesterday), so I took it for lunch. As we were walking from the hospital back to the motorbike, with my Lao skirt on, carrying my Lao basket of rice, I thought to myself, I am blending in. Adopting a few of the customs. Dressing like them. Eating like them. 

Then, I looked up, came out of my day dream, and realized that I am a blonde girl, who is about a head taller than everyone here, and people are still staring at me. Actually, they’re staring at me more than if I were dressed in my normal clothes.


Because they can see by the way I look, by the way I act, by the way I speak, that I don’t really belong here. Not that I’m not welcome here. I feel very welcomed here. But, by taking on some of their culture and adapting to some of their ways, they’re wondering even more: who is she and what is she doing here? She’s obviously different, why is she trying to be the same?

The Bible speaks about this phenomenon a little bit too. In Romans 12:2, the apostle Paul urges the believers to not conform to the pattern of this world. Again, in John 18:36, Jesus reminds us that His Kingdom is not here in this world, but beyond. 

As believers, we are called to be different. The way that Christ lived, the example that He gave for us to follow, doesn’t look anything like what this world promotes. Where we want to hate, Jesus said to love. Where we want to judge, Jesus said to forgive. Where we want to fight, Jesus said to make peace. 

Like me in a Lao skirt on the back of a motorbike, true believers stand out, even in the midst of the world all around us. Why?

Because we don’t belong here.

Asia, Missions, Travel

Let’s Ride!

Arranging for group travel is always fun. But, the least advantageous in said arrangements is being the youngest or the smallest in the group. Which is usually me. In a car, you are put in the middle seat. In a van, you’re put in the farthest reaches, climbing over seats and other passengers to your tiny corner in the back. In Costa Rica, I was put in the tiniest seat on the bus, right behind and above the driver, for the three hour ride. In a little fly in plane in Canada, I was stored in the back with the fishing poles and duffel bags. And here in Laos, it means I’m put on the back of a motorbike. I heard rumblings at the other end of the table of this conversation about transportation at our lunch. Everyone else was accounted for, but we had one extra person, so what should we do? Oh! That’s right, Brittney can ride on the back of the motorbike. Problem solved!

Not so sure about this

Not so sure about this

I would dare to say that motorbikes are the main means of transportation around the world. (That’s a Brittney fact, not a real fact, so don’t quote me) But, we do see them everywhere. There’s not much you can’t do and not many places you can’t go on one. You can carry things on them. I’ve seen a full grown pig being hauled on one, tied with a rope to the back. No big deal.¬†Families ride on them together. I think the most I’ve witnessed is 6 at a time.

Motorbike parking

Motorbike parking

There is a mental lag that happens with seeing bizarre things on motorbikes though. Usually, one will go by, and you will see it. Then, two seconds later, you’ll process what you saw and think: did I really just witness that?

Baby’s hungry? No problem! Sit side-saddle and feed on the go!

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Just got an IV? Just hold the bottle up and climb on, you’ll be fine!

Yes, that bottle she's holding up is an IV. This is actually a pretty common sighting.

Yes, that bottle she’s holding up is an IV. This is actually a pretty common sighting.

I finally talked myself into it.

I finally talked myself into it.

I did finally talk myself into riding, holding on carefully, in the most American style. Mastering the side saddle will have to wait until next time.