"To me, my greatest accomplishment is that I filled all the pages of my passport before it expired," stated OMer Renette. "Sometimes when I feel like I haven’t done any real ‘adult’ stuff I open my drawer, find my travel pouch, take out my passport and flip through the pages. Sometimes I flip through fast, imagining a man is jogging on the top right corner of the pages. Most of the time, I just look through each page remembering the trips I took, the space I was in when I travelled. There are so many seasons captured in those passport pages."
I have a roommate. I am 27 and I have a roommate. I share a house with other girls. Keeping the pool clean is my responsibility. I walk to work every day. On the way home from work the other day I wondered what I would say at my 10-year school reunion…
“No, I am not married. No, no kids. I walk to my job every day.”
“No, I don’t own a fridge. I’m renting a room and now sharing it with a friend.”
“Oh, what do I like to do after work? Uhm, I watch t.v. series and eat popcorn…”
To me, my greatest accomplishment is that I filled all the pages of my passport before it expired. Sometimes when I feel like I haven’t done any real ‘adult’ stuff I open my drawer, find my travel pouch, take out my passport and flip through the pages. Sometimes I flip through fast, imagining a man is jogging on the top right corner of the pages. Most of the time, I just look through each page remembering the trips I took, the space I was in when I travelled. There are so many seasons captured in those passport pages.
One of the first trips that earned a stamp was a month-long family road trip through Namibia to escape the craziness of the FIFA world cup in South Africa. It was the trip where my mom decided to leave her crutches and climb a dune; determined to see the dead valley in Sossusvlei. And afterwards, too tired to walk back down, she just rolled down the dune. Classic!
Then there was my first ‘out of Africa’ outreach to Sri Lanka I went on with my sister. For a month, we stayed in a home for sexually abused girls. The girls didn’t speak English and we sure didn’t speak Singhalese so we played card games. First watching how they played the game and figuring out the rules until we felt comfortable to play with them.
The next few pages are all Brazilian stamps. I extended my visa a few times and they made a few mistakes that had to be scribbled out and redone. I loathed going to foreign affairs – no one spoke English and there were never clear instructions on what was needed or where to go. I cried a few times in that building.
And then I started traveling in Africa. From South Africa to Zambia, you get four stamps. I once did five countries in a week – that’s a lot of stamps!
I love my African stamps, not because I have so many, but because each border crossing tells a story. There is the border I crossed on foot, then the border with a ferry and oh the border where I crossed into the other country, turned around and went back in again. But my African stamps remind me of my peace season. The season I am in now. I have seen so many people, cultures, markets, border crossings, public toilets and weird things sold on the side of the road.
In all of the moving, packing, repacking, visa applications and trainings, one thing is with me through all of it: peace.
I have peace.
This is where God wants me to be and how He has designed this time in my life. He took me from a difficult season where my mom was in a wheelchair to seeing the smile on kids’ faces when I understood their card game. From navigating foreign affairs in Portuguese to traveling in Africa.
Now it would be really easy to say I’m fine with not having the traditional adult things and that I’m totally at peace with being single and having a roommate BUT that would be a lie.
It’s hard, it always will be. It comes and goes, it’s life, it’s my life. And in those moments of crazy insecurity, I have to take out my spiritual roadmap and go to all the promises God has written for His children. I have to take my passport out and put it next to my Bible and remind myself of all the promises God gave me that have come true; all the times He has showed me His wonders in nature, His grace at foreign affairs and His mercy on bad roads.
The God whom I serve is much greater than me owning a fridge.
My passport is my roadmap. It shows me how far I have come, where I have walked and what I have experienced. It reminds me of the lessons I’ve learnt, the situations I have survived and it gives me hope. It gives me hope knowing that I am only 27 – how will God use me in the next 27 years? Where will He take me? What will be the memories I have when I flip through my next passport?