We interviewed award-winning travel blogger Katie Cook of HopeEngaged.com to share her experience of serving overseas. Sounds inspiring to us—we’re sure you’ll agree.
You’ve had the job of being a professional traveler…how cool is that?!
I feel so incredibly blessed to have the opportunities I’ve had. My husband, Kevin, and I love to travel, and are always scheming up ways to get our backpacks out and go exploring! We’ve been to almost 40 countries. We enjoy seeing the world for all the reasons people normally do. But we’ve been especially impacted when we’ve ventured out on missions to share God’s love.
I’ve taught English in Thailand and worked for a non-profit in Kenya. Kev coached a university basketball team in Indonesia. And, when we were newlyweds, we spent six months living in Nepal!
What are some fun highlights from your time in Nepal?
Here are just a few of the “firsts” I experienced while living in Southeast Asia:
– Eating with my hands
– Taking microvans and tuk tuk’s to get around the city, and ox carts in the country
– Pumping water out of a pump
– Attempting to converse in Nepali, and learning Nepali dances and worship songs!
– Wearing a shalwar kurta and a sari (so so much fun!)
– Regularly eating Dahl Baht Tarkari (the regional staple of lentils, rice and vegetables)
– Trying to dodge cows while I walked down the street
– Carrying a load of grass on my head
– Spending 24/7 with my husband, whom I adore
What was it like to serve in Nepal?
It was amazing. Nepal is so different than America, so it allowed me to have a totally different kind of rhythm and life than we do at home…mainly a slower paced life. The electricity was off a good chunk of the day, so I couldn’t be on the internet, and I had to learn how to use candles when the lights were off, and how to cook when we couldn’t plug anything in! But the most wonderful part of our time in Nepal was spending time with the girls in the aftercare home we were helping to set-up.
The home where we worked housed a handful of the most precious girls you could imagine. These girls were once in horribly abusive situations, some trafficked across international borders, and had been rescued and brought to the home. Kevin and I had the incredible privilege of spending many of our days with the girls, teaching English, planning movie nights, taking them on excursions, playing games and just listening to them.
Were you ever nervous to be so far from home?
No, not really. I believe that Christ delights when we step out and risk and try new things… After all, He’s the most adventurous of us all, right?
I think the greater battle is for inner why not look here courage. To face your past with grace and allow the wounds to heal no matter how painful they are. HE makes us brave and He’s fighting for us every step of the way.
This is the living bravery I witnessed in the girls every day. Watching them choose to trust and love and to not to let their pasts define them.
Did anything about doing missions surprise you?
In moving to Nepal, I think I had the idea that we’d be “giving out” so much energy and time. And while this was true, I also found that the slow pace of life was restorative. For most of the day, there was no electricity, so using the internet was out. This, combined with how few people I knew there, gave me a lot of time on my hands. Because of this, I did very revolutionary things…like rest and read and pray 🙂
How were you changed / impacted by the experience?
Seeing the love of Christ permeate the lives of the girls in the aftercare home was absolutely incredible. Watching these girls come into the home with little hope, and then seeing them transformed by the love of Christ etched in my heart how powerful God’s tenderness truly is.
These girls were coming from Hindu backgrounds surrounded by darkness, and when they experienced the light of Christ it was life-changing. I felt like I saw God in a new way through the eyes of the girls.
What would you say to someone considering short-term missions?
GO! God works in such beautiful ways when we are out of our comfort zones, revealing new parts of Him and His Creation. When our eyes are opened to the world, we begin to see things differently, our perspective shifts and something inside of us opens up to the Lord in a new way. We get out of our bubble, and see that God’s kingdom work is going on all around the world in such unique ways, and we begin to see how we get to play a part in that!