Itinerating is really, really fun

Yes, that’s what I said. Fun.

Dearest Trinity Bible College, you were one of the best things that ever happened to me, but you sadly deceived me about itineration. I was led to expect it to be one of the worst things that could ever happen to a poor, innocent little missionary, and instead I’m having the greatest time ever.

Sunset near Havre, MT

Sunset near Havre, MT

First of all, I get to travel all over Montana. I’ve lived here nearly my whole life, but I never fully realized how extraordinarily beautiful so much of it is. I drove the most breathtaking road in a blizzard along a narrow, long lake between Eureka and Troy (click small pictures for the larger version):

I drove under a sky between Roundup and Billings that made me realize why it’s called Big Sky Country.

Big Sky State

Big Sky Country

I encountered all kinds of interesting buildings in all kinds of unexpected places.

I could upload a thousand more pictures. But what a magnificent time I’ve had driving.

Speaking at the missions banquet at Christian Life Center in Missoula

Speaking at the missions banquet at my church in Missoula

And then, second of all, I get to do public speaking. Preaching, even.

Erm…shouldn’t I hate that? I’m supposed to hate that. I’m an introvert. Stereotypically, I should not like speaking in front of groups of people. But I love it.

I’m a good speaker. I can craft a good speech/sermon/presentation/message because I’m a good writer, and I’ve done enough acting that getting up in front of people has become easy. I know how to tailor my message to age groups, different group sizes, and the length required by any given church service, and I still love what I’m talking about. I tell people my story, quite honestly and transparently, and they love it. I bring them encouragement, inspiration, and a perspective that, quite frankly, most people have never considered. And of course I talk about missions in Europe, and most people have not thought much about that, either.

Third of all, I meet people. Honestly, that’s one of my least favorite parts. It’s one of the most difficult parts. I find it a trifle uncomfortable to meet new people and try to think up things to say to them. Someone is sure to monopolize me with a story about her hip surgery or what his nephew is studying at the University of Montana, and there is always a woman who asks how old I am and is shocked by the answer and always a man who says “It’s all Greek to me.”

Christy McDougall in Gallifreyan

My name in Gallifreyan. Yes, that’s a language.

But at the same time, some of my favorite memories are of people I have met. A young man in Cut Bank gave me my name in Gallifreyan (the language of the Time Lords in Doctor Who). A mother and daughter in Havre had truly lovely discussions about missions and literature with me. I went exploring antique stores in Laurel with a woman who, with her husband, opened their house to me for four nights. An old man in Thompson Falls who looked like Peter O’Toole flirted with me and gave me $1000, just because he could (I would have flirted back, but my flirting needs work; I’m not a flirter).

In between, I get a few days at home, in my own comfy bed, with my own washing machine and my own kitchen and my lovely bicycle, and I don’t have to do anything except paperwork, try to schedule more services, write thank-you notes, study Greek, read books, and write them. The traveling, speaking, meeting people, and conversation-making-with-strangers can get very tiring, but the days in between more than make up for it.

Three months in, itineration is grand.

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