Travels Filled with Treasure

When I was 12, my parents gifted me with a beautiful wooden jewelry box. The lid has an elegant flower design etched on it, inlaid with mother-of-pearl. When the light catches it just right, the flowers gleam and glow. For over 30 years, I have stored my little treasures (not just jewelry) in it: particularly lovely seashells from various beach walks, pebbles of various shades and shapes, a butterfly broach that belonged to my great-grandmother.

(Listen to the audio version of this article:)

By Bekah Farber

This past July, as my husband, three girls, and I started out on our first long trip “out East” to visit ministry partners and family members, I felt both anticipation and trepidation. I knew that I was looking forward to seeing each of these families again, but how were my children feeling? Only my oldest had any true memories of the last time we had visited these families (four years ago!). For my other two children, the people we were about to visit were mostly strangers. And how would the girls deal with the many hours of sitting in the car as we traveled hundreds of miles?

Somewhere along the long, flat roads between Ohio and Illinois on the return trip, I realized that the Lord had gifted us with a trip filled with treasure. What we found were doors that the Lord had opened for us: a farmhouse door, a small-town America front door, a suburban house door. Inside those doors, God had prepared gifts to share with us.

Bekah Farbers daughters
The Farber girls at the end of special day by roasting marshmallows at their great-aunt’s home in Clifton, Virginia.

The treasures were as varied as the houses themselves: a sheepdog with enough fluff to lose your hands in; elusive cats who might or might not want to be petted; delightful, out-of-print books you’d be hard pressed to find in a library; a motorized chair to ride up and down the stairs; learning how to drive a golf cart; racing on foot trying to keep up with that golf cart; playing hide and seek in the church graveyard; a knitting lesson.

There were treasures during the drives, too (thanks to Audible): we secretly rejoiced as Fantastic Mr. Fox found food for his hungry kits, and laughed at the bumbling farmers trying to stop him; we yearned for reconciliation between father and son as we heard Caleb’s Story; we understood the homesickness achingly etched for us in Skylark.

But the real treasures were the people whom we met. So varied! So different! So unique in their personalities, their interests, and their experiences. But each one was so loving, so caring, so thoughtful and attentive. Not only did they talk with my husband and me about our ministry, but they took a genuine interest in our three girls, asking them thoughtful questions, and some even giving the girls small gifts as we left for our next stop. Their love poured right out of them and filled up each one of us: one, two, three, four, five.

The hospitality and generosity of our ministry partners, as they shared their food, homes, and selves with us, was just what is described in John’s third letter:

“Dear friend, when you extend hospitality to Christian brothers and sisters … you make the faith visible … It’s good work you’re doing, helping these travelers on their way, hospitality worthy of God himself! In providing meals and a bed, we become their companions in spreading the Truth” (3 John, verses 5-8, The Message).

Besides hosting a missionary for a night, there are many ways to become a “companion in spreading the Truth”: welcoming a missionary back in person, or sending them off again; shopping for groceries for their first few days back in the country; asking about any particular needs and sending the list out to your congregation; or even offering for them to join your mobile network’s “family plan” while they are on Home Assignment.

Lest I be guilty of painting too-rosy a picture of our travels, I will also share that the trip was not without its challenges: it was a loud, unhappy hour when my youngest could not find a beloved stuffed animal; road snacks do eventually all start tasting the same; and it is a trial to sit in the car for x number of hours, even when you love your siblings/children/parents/spouse.

But the treasure outweighed the trials. I’m looking forward to opening the remaining treasure boxes in the next few months.

The Farber Family

About the Author: Bekah and her family live in Thailand. She and her husband, Brian, were part of a church planting ministry in Central Thailand for a decade. They’re now in Bangkok working in discipleship and an equipping ministry with Thai churches. Bekah grew up in Indonesia and also spent two years teaching in the Philippines. She says, “Although I have not always been faithful to the Lord, He has always been faithful to me.” Learn more about the Farber’s ministry in Thailand.

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