Typical Precautions

There are typical precautions one takes when traveling to the developing world. Or, I should say that there are typical precautions that are suggested or prescribed by various authorities.  There are precautions regarding your health, your safety and your finances.  There are precautions regarding travel arrangements, accommodations and communication.

Here are a few precautions that are typically presented to American visitors to East Africa, for instance.

  1. Make a copy of your passport and put it in a place other than where you keep your passport.
  2. Use a money belt or similar device to protect your currency and other valuables.
  3. Get inoculations for protection against various illnesses.
  4. Use a mosquito net.
  5. Only drink bottled water.
  6. Inform your credit card companies of your international travel.
  7. Arrive early to the airport for international flights.

I am sure that there are many other precautions one could undertake. If you  have traveled to the region, you could probably list others precautions, as well. These precautions are made to help reduce uncertainty and risk while traveling away from home.

I admit that it has become easier for me to ignore potential risks and to take certain things for granted while I travel in Africa at this point in my life.  I suppose that my own familiarity with general situations and procedures in Rwanda and Kenya after a dozen visits gives me a certain set of expectations that allows me to be less cautious.  I also realize that my continued travel to this region has provided me with a number of opportunities to rest easy in the presence of Christ. During my first trip to Africa, about a decade ago, I had a very powerful experience of God’s presence as I stood in an abandoned rail yard in Okahandja, Namibia. Since that day, time after time as I have walked in cities and in rural areas, had conversations with educators and farmers, sipped tea in front rooms and cafes and marveled at the beautiful countryside of the Western Province of Kenya, I have sensed God’s presence.

The darkness of uncertainty persists, although at times I will even embrace that uncertainty. I know that in spite of taking precautions, not all variables can be accounted for. I never really know what person or event will cross my path.  I do know though, that light pushes back the darkness. Today, I read this line from the first chapter of the Book of John:

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

Darkness has not and will not overcome light.  That assertion gives me hope.  I am hopeful within the darkness of uncertainty as I recognize the light of Christ shining there.  At times I find myself wondering why I did not notice the light.  The light was there.  What is it that cause me to miss the light at those times?  We have all experienced the phenomenon of our eyes getting used to the dark.  Our eyes adjust to the ambient light in a darkened room, allowing us to see light that was not apparent prior to that adjustment. In a similar fashion, I think that my spiritual eyes make adjustments, as I become quiet and patient in the darkness, allowing the light of Christ to appear, growing brighter as I become more fully aware.

In that rail yard in Okahandja many years ago, this verse of scripture came to my mind: “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. (Matthew 13:44)”. I meditated in that moment on the meaning of the verse.  What was so valuable that I would sell all I had to obtain it?  I initially concluded that it would be the presence of God.  And yet, as I thought more about it, I recognized that God is always present.  Therefore, what was priceless to me was my own recognition of God’s presence.  As my own recognition of Christ’s light grows, the darkness is pushed back, I have less concern about risk.  Uncertainty is not something I fear, but accept, for all things can be illuminated by the Light of Christ.

Typical precautions are necessary and prudent, bringing some sense of safety.  Recognizing and responding to the Light, however, brings acceptance, joy, and hope.

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2 Comments on “Typical Precautions”

  1. susannasteeg Says:

    Wonderful to read your thoughts, Scot! Praying for you and Eloise as you travel in God’s presence. -Susanna

  2. Anna Says:

    Scot, what a nice contrast between the precautions due to darkness along with the peace due to the Light around you. Save & joyful travels for you and Eloise.
    — Anna


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