Dis-Orientation - July 1, 2013

They call it “Orientation,” but I think it’s really the opposite. The five days at Cornerstone of West LA and the two days at Alliance Guest House in Bangkok were more of a Disorientation than anything else. Scott Bessenecker, the "father" of the Global Urban Trek, told us that one of the reasons we’re here is for detox. We’re here so Jesus can pull us off the addictive and destructive patterns, substances, and techniques that we use just to get by day by day. Disorientation and detox, I suppose, are two ways of expressing the same thing. Exchanging one “center” for another. Exchanging my own insatiable desire for the fulfilling embrace of Jesus.

During “in-country orientation,” we repeatedly ventured into Bangkok’s city streets in small groups with just enough cash for a meal. No plastic cards, no staff, and no guidance.

One night, Alex, Hanniel, Emily, and I shrewdly spent only part of our dinner stipend. We had each used 35 baht (about $1.25) for our meals, which for the area was on the cheaper side of reasonable. All told, that left us with around 30 or 40 baht for milktea. We had no idea where to find any, so we just strolled. Finally, we found an European-style coffee house (meaning, among other things, higher prices). We luckily had just enough for one cup. Walking back to the guesthouse, we passed the delicious milktea back and forth between us.

As we were walking, I realized that this was a little unusual, at least for me. Had I been out with my friends back home, I would have found sharing one cup of milktea between four people hopelessly unsatisfying. I would have wanted a milktea of my own to possess, to drink at my own pace, to drink as much of or as little of as I wanted.

And yet we were perfectly happy to share it. I know it’s a small thing, but perhaps it is a sign of the detox, or the disorientation, we are undergoing. A sign that as we are stripped of our belongings, our personal space, and our cultural intuitions, we are stripped of deeper disease as well: greed, domination, and pride. And hopefully, just as Scott hopes in Chapter Seven of The New Friars, “mine” can spontaneously transform into “ours.”

-Ryan Hammil