Adventure is Out There: Jump On!

Author: Jenna Anderson | @mrsjenna_anderson

When I moved from San Diego, CA to a remote town in Southern Africa after college, it took courage to be sure. I knew God was leading me so I followed with faith and the taste for adventure at the ready. Before too long what had previously been exhilarating and fresh was overrun with the ordinary. At first when I walked down the dirt road to the school where I taught, I was met with droves of cutie children hollering “Miss! Miss!” around every corner. My heart would swell and I’d giggle at the excitement that I was inciting. But then they decided to tar my road. By. Hand. The joy of my journey was quickly stolen and replaced by an awkward walk through the now tar-filled gutters. The thrill was gone.  I remember the first time being at a special event where they served traditional food. My plate was piled high and I felt so brave digging into the unknown. I soon discovered that though I found the food tasty and unique, these five foods would be served at EVERY special event. Turned out, over time they weren’t so very special or unique. 

It doesn’t matter where you find yourself in life-seemingly adventurous foreign countries or the town you grew up in- I believe two things are true: 

  1. The ordinary can numb us for the extraordinary-teaching us to sit back and expect nothing too over-the-top exciting. 

2. Adventure is out there. But, only if we’ll look for it and choose to say, “yes!” 

I loved living in Africa. However, it didn’t take long to find out that even exotic and far-off locations can be devoid of adventure and excitement. As it is with most places, once you’ve spent some time living and working and doing life somewhere - what was once new and full of flavor can grow bland. My Saturdays living in Willowvale, South Africa consisted of laundry, grading papers, and house chores. Thrilling, I know. But one Saturday was different. I remember a group of us missionaries were invited to leave our clothes on the line to travel to rural, rural country to visit some Canadian missionaries. These missionaries were incredible. They had created sustainable income for a variety of their neighbors through creative businesses. Their dung hut was chock-full of inventions and entrepreneurial happenings to better the community around them. Looking around their plot of land thriving with creativity, something new was sparked inside. As was the tradition we took tea and connected over ministries and life. I don’t remember how it happened but at some point during our visit someone asked them if they could ride their wild horses. In the mix of it all, I was surprised to see the sweet, grey-haired missionary holding out her hand casually inviting me to hop on. 

Now this might seem simple to you, but I had never ever ridden a horse in my life or even been close enough to touch one. I grew up a city girl. In fact, my dad had experienced a scary encounter with a horse in a foreign country when I was little. I remember hearing him recount the life and death scene as I took a mental note to steer clear of horses, especially wild ones like these. But there it was. Adventure. Saturday monotony now left by the wayside, here was adventure inviting me to jump on. I was terrified. I mean, there wasn’t even a saddle to hold onto. But something crazy inside of me urged me forward. 

I mounted the horse in THE most awkward way you possibly could. I grabbed the rope reigns while holding on for dear life and tried to smile and act natural. I followed my roomie, who had clearly done this before, off of the property and away from the hut that now held my sense of safety and security. I did my best to recount the nonchalant horseback riding tips mumbled at me prior to my departure. Fear was present, but there was no turning back now. As I trotted nervously along, I finally decided to look up. I wish I could take you there to see it for yourself. 

The landscape was breathtakingly expansive with its rolling African hills sprinkled with straw-roofed huts on charming plots. The sun shone brightly as the wind blew the tall grass here and there. It was picturesque in every way as I sat atop my new horse friend . As we meandered down the tiny dirt path mamas started to don the doorways of their huts. Come to find out later, many of these dear, sweet Africans had never seen women riding horses. They began to holler joyful greetings at us as the laughter became contagious from hut to hut. Before I knew it we were trotting along the wandering hills with the richest sound of laughter in our wake. People waved. Children danced. My face hurt from smiling. It sounds like a movie and, to be honest, it felt like one. This scene, this glorious moment of adventure lays fresh as ever in my memory these 13 years later. In that moment slipping and sliding across the bony back of that horse I felt more alive than ever. Hilariously awkward, but fully alive. 

I didn’t have to get on. In fact, everything in me told me not to get on that horse. But for some reason I did. I chose in an instant to throw aside fear and uncertainty and let this city mouse become a little country. I chose adventure. I chose to interrupt my routine with a little something unexpected. Looking back now I wouldn’t trade those moments for anything. I was fully awake to new things and sensed God’s delight in every trot. 

Friends, adventure is out there. It might look different than you think. It might require a little caution throwing and courage mustering to take hold of it. But it really will infuse your life with a whole lot of joy and a reminder that you can embrace new things and come out with a grand story to tell. 

Go ahead-Float the river, climb a mountain, eat something exotic, befriend a stranger, take a dance class, go the scenic route, ride a horse, or simply do something that you’d normally never do. Be brave. Spice up your life with a little adventure and see where it takes you. You might discover a new passion, an epic tale to tell, or log a hilarious fail in the books. No matter what, saying, “yes!” to adventure will make you just a little more alive than you were the day before. And really, isn’t that a delightful pursuit inside this beautiful life God’s entrusted to us? 

What’s something you could say, “Yes!” to this week that might make your heart beat a little faster or eyes open with wonder a little wider? Do it. Sign up. Jump on. I double dog dare you.

Whitney ParnellComment