There is a lot about travelling to Zambia, that is not comfortable. To start with a journey that lasts a full 24 hours, in conditions that stretch the definition of ‘glamorous’.
It doesn’t take long to re-acquaint oneself with the challenges of simple living. For the best part of a year now, the rehabilitation of the town’s water supply system has meant that the water to the house has been sporadic and low in pressure, meaning that normal routines have become challenging and in some cases, impossible.
Arriving with a team of nine people, therefore has been more stretching than usual. It has therefore been refreshing to see and hear the reactions of the team to, what is for many of them, their first experience of what we have known as home for many years.
Our long haul flight to Nairobi was delayed significantly because of a diversion that had to be taken around some conflict zones, and so as we landed we knew we only had 40 minutes to make the only connection of the day to Zambia. We had to be terribly un-British and force our way through the crowds of people backed up for the security screening, to ensure we had the best chance of making it.
Hauling bags and tired bodies through such a situation is not what could be called enjoyable, or what came to mind when contemplating travelling the globe in the dreams of our youth.
We managed to get through and onto the flight to Ndola. Spread all round the plane in different seats I was seated next to a young man from Kenya. I asked him a bit about his trip. He told me it was his first time visiting Zambia, but had decided to do it simply because he knew he had to stretch his horizons. He told me most young people he knew only wanted to go to parties and sleep. His dad had told him that if he wanted to grow, he had to get out of ‘the comfort zone’, and so he said that was his reason for travelling, to get out of his comfort zone and to see what existed beyond his world and experience.
I reflected on what he said for a while. I realised how prone I could be to complaining about inconvenience or discomfort. How difficult I could find it when things didn’t go according to plan, or when they were challenging, as most of our journey had been.
I then thought back over many years, more than this young man had been alive, and realised that actually by the grace of God, I had discovered that what this man’s father had told him was absolutely spot on.
As I have gone on to thoroughly enjoy the reaction of our team to the wonders of Zambia, I have come to realise that it was numerous decisions to step out of ‘the comfort zone’ that has made such an experience possible.
There have been so many points of decision in our lives when we could simply have said ‘no’, and instead have just done it anyway, that mean we have been immeasurably enriched, and now we get a chance to pass that on.
There are people with us who have definitely stepped out of their comfort zone, on our invitation, trusting us that any uncertainty will be outweighed by the incredible life stretching, life enhancing experience of being here.
And so I have decided to banish my ‘grumpy old man’ in favour of an enthusiast who will say ‘yes’ rather than ‘no’, because so far, as I approach a fourth decade of ‘giving it a try’, I can honestly say it beats the safety of the ‘known way’ hands down.