The thought of traveling the world has this elusive appeal to it that sucks people in and causes countless daydreams of far off places. We think of exotic destinations, beautiful beaches, and experiences to remember for a lifetime. Unfortunately, it is no more than a dream for many people – myself included at this point. But I don’t think we need to completely abandon this dream. We just need to re-imagine it!
My husband was born and spent his childhood in Peru. I haven’t been there yet, but I have a sense of what it’s like from spending countless hours with him and his family. Though they no longer live in Peru, they carry its culture with them wherever they go. From celebrating holidays to a run-of-the-mill dinner, there are stark differences between their native culture and my own. And that’s not a bad thing! It’s fantastic that I can get a flavor of Peru just by spending time with Peruvians! Through these relationships I’ve realized there’s much more to traveling than seeing the sights.
I created Must Love Here for a few reasons. One of the biggest reasons was that I wanted to highlight ways you can love your “here.” You know those times when you want to try something new but you feel like you’ve already explored all the haunts worth haunting in your city? Or you’re super bored but you don’t really have the cash for a grand night out? Or when you got away to somewhere sweet but you really don’t have any idea what to do there? We’ve all been there. And I want to help! I love a good dive bar/restaurant and deeply understand the appeal of inexpensive entertainment. With Must Love Here, I'll show you those often overlooked places in various cities, and encourage you to go out and explore wherever it is you find yourself! You can be the hero of your next va- or stay-cation with the travel tips I'll give you here!
More importantly, Must Love Here is about way more than travel tips. It is about connecting with people from all over the world, in any and every “here” you can imagine!
In our day and age we see disagreement all around us. But with 195 countries and 7.6 billion people in the world, maybe that’s to be expected. I can’t even agree with my husband 100% of the time, and we get along really well! I don’t think we’re expected to agree on everything. But I do think we misunderstand each other a lot, which often leads to anger. With so many different back-stories, world views, and opinions, is it possible to move from the common place of anger to one of respect, despite the friction?
George W. Bush once said, “Diplomacy starts with getting to know each other.” I don’t want to talk about the Bushes or any other political figure here, but I like this quote. Getting to know those around us, even those who oppose us can help us understand their point of view. And that helps us serve them better! If people remain faces behind screens and places remain dots on a map, we will never truly understand all the diversity around us or all the world has to offer. And we will never really know, understand, or care about people we pass on the street, let alone those living on the other side of the world.
Through Must Love Here I'm attempting to step into that gap and help build bridges! We all know people that are different from us in some way. Let me help you reach out to them and get to know them better! I'll show you how to make a place to move past our differences and share stories of our pasts, our dreams, and our greatest joys. We will talk, we will listen, and we will grow.
There are three pillars to my bridge building strategy:
The dining table has long been seen as a place where families and friends come together to share a meal and spend time together. Meal times are thought of as opportunities to come together and share details about the day, to laugh together, and to bond. For generations, parents and grandparents have taught their children how to cook and passed down cherished recipes. I would venture to guess these things are important in nearly all cultures around the world. Cooking together is a tradition that happens fairly naturally as well – little kids often want to help their parents as much as they can and some people begin cooking at very early ages. Of course this happens out of necessity in some situations, but in others this is a practice that develops out of a curiosity, and a skill that is developed under the loving guidance of older family members.
To combine these two aspects of meals – cooking and eating – may seem a simple thing. But in our jam-packed schedules and fast-paced lives, sitting down for a meal around the table is becoming a rarity. Even at our house, meals are typically eaten in front of the TV. Setting aside all the distractions and focusing intentional time with others during the cooking, serving, and eating of meals helps reduce stress, cultivate richer relationships, protect against dementia, and nurture healthy and growing children and teenagers with benefits across physical, mental and social development (1, 2).
My husband and I have been trying out recipes from around the world since we got married. In this way we get to steep ourselves in different cultures and experience a small taste of a country’s best food. My dream is to continue incorporating these diverse dishes, but to add in the beneficial aspect of being taught recipes by people from countries all over the world. I want to bring you authentic recipes and open the door for firsthand experience and insight into different countries and cultures.
The most fun we’ve had doing this was when my mother-in-law taught me how to make papas rellenas, a common street food from their home country of Peru. We loved getting to share that time with our parents centered on a food they love and remember from their days in Peru.
Learning about countries takes me back to history/geography/social studies class. Every time I visit I marvel at my brain’s ability to forget all the information I learned there. My dad was actually my eighth grade history teacher, and so to him I apologize for my apathy towards all things history.
If I had cherished all that learning maybe I would know where Azerbaijan is without staring at a map for 20 minutes, or (let’s be real) Googling it. Instead, I now research the different countries we’re eating through each week and try to rebuild that now lost knowledge.
Like history class, there’s only so much to learn from books and Google. We can learn all kinds of information about different countries, but I don’t think it will really sink in until we have an experience to connect. Probably the best form of connection would be to spend a significant amount of time visiting or living in different places. That’s not exactly realistic, at least not for most people. So what’s the next best thing?
How about a local telling you about growing up in Germany? Or their favorite memories from life in Australia? Or the most misunderstood things about people from Ukraine? Maybe we could learn more about our neighbors by learning all these details about their lives.
Not only will I be providing facts about these various countries, but also – as often as I can – I’ll be linking up with people from around the world and allowing them to tell us about their home. Let’s let them tell us what we should know about Germany, Australia, Ukraine, and everywhere in between. An eyewitness is the best witness, right?
I am a Christian, so in everything I do my number one goal is bring honor to God. Must Love Here is not exempt from that mission. Prayer, studying scripture, and telling people about the truth of God and salvation offered through Jesus Christ are essential to this process.
Eddy and I pray for people in each country to hear and believe the good news of Christ! We follow a prayer calendar from Operation World, which provides us with some basic facts about each country as well as specific points to focus on in our prayers. We believe God is at work in the world and will reveal himself to his children. We also believe God wants to talk with us and that he hears and responds to our prayers. And so we pray, and we invite you to pray as well!
In conjunction with praying for the world, I’ll also be reviewing and reflecting on various passages of scripture and explaining each one as best as I can. The bible isn’t meant to explain every detail of our lives or answer all our questions. Instead, it tells the story God wants us to know about how he created the world, how sin impacts our relationship with him and how he made a way to resolve the problem of our sins. It is also a way to talk to God, or rather to hear from him. To spend time in his Word is to spend time with him – to be encouraged, challenged, and shaped by the wisdom and love he offers us.
I believe all people share certain qualities. We are all created with dignity. We all have both hurts and joys. We all want to be known and understood. Through Must Love Here, I am creating a space that allows that to happen more easily. Please join me as I travel the world by sharing experiences with people from all over! There will be stumbles, probably some ruined recipes, and – God-willing – some really great friendships formed!
1. Radcliff, Dr. Nina. “Benefits of Breaking Bread Together - at a Table.” The Washington Times, The Washington Times, 14 Apr. 2017, www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/apr/14/health-benefits-eating-together/.
2. Tarkan, Laurie. “Benefits of the Dinner Table Ritual.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 3 May 2005, www.nytimes.com/2005/05/03/health/nutrition/benefits-of-the-dinner-table-ritual.html.