Jet Set Trips: Learning to Go ‘Just Slow’

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Since 2009 we have been helping church leaders experience for themselves what it means to be sent. We accomplish this through 7-10 day trips to major global cities.

These "traveling think tanks" are called Jet Set Trips.

Each trip is designed to expose participants to global missionary skills and a network of global missionaries, allowing church leaders to more effectively build a culture of local and global mission at their church. It's like a vision trip guided by Upstream leaders.

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My life is fast-paced with a full schedule, endless to-do lists, and strenuous due dates. I struggle with task management, time management, saying “no,” and–if I am honest–FOMO, the fear of missing out. I fill my days (and sometimes my nights) with work, play, people, noise, and movement. I know that rest and stillness are important, but it’s difficult to make myself take the time to experience these things.

Can you relate?

So an invite to attend a Jet Set Trip to southeastern Europe with a group of girlfriends took this overworked, overstressed, overplanned woman and turned her into an adventuring pilgrim. For ten days, I learned the ways of a slower-paced, wholesome, and “salt of the earth” way of life.   

Upon arrival at a mountain village I was greeted by gardens filled with herbs and flowers. Native wood hung on the sides of the dwelling–nature put on display like great works of art. Large vats of homemade Kombucha with bees swarming the lids were lined up against the back of the home. I knew that I was about to meet some interesting and beautiful people!

The owners of this farmhouse open their home to visitors to learn a simple way of life and experience what it means to live off the land. I was there to spend time with them, to learn about foraging, and to see how people in this village live their daily lives. Little did I know that the lessons would be so profound.  

The morning started with a farm-to-table breakfast served outdoors on a homemade wooden table with tree stumps as seats. We were served a variety of homemade bread, jams, yogurt, and other native dishes. As I sat surrounded by my girlfriends at this banquet table with the backdrop of trees and mountains that make up this beautiful, quaint village, it was like something out of a travel magazine!

After our meal we traveled up the mountain by car and then proceeded further on foot. Some of us went foraging up the river for mountain tea, while the others searched the high plain fields for mushrooms. I was in the mushroom group. It was described as having a gentler slope, so with my bum knee I thought this would be more manageable for me. I struggled to keep up, but not wanting to be held back, I pushed myself. Our guide stopped the host and in the native language told him about my injury and my need to travel gently. Then, these simple words came from my mountain friend: samo polako. He said them straight to me, and I heard them, not just for the physical meaning that they held, but even more so for their application to my entire way of life. I looked at our guide for the interpretation and he said, “It means just slow.

Our host began to walk at a turtle’s pace and repeated with each step, “samo polako, samo polako”. As we strolled, I realized how much more comfortable the pace was, how my breathing became easier, how the pain in my knee released, and how enjoyable it was to look around and really take in the beauty of this place. The task was to forage for mushrooms and, at this pace, I actually took time to carefully step from foot to foot and watch for them sprouting from the earth. I could hear the breeze brushing the pine needles together nearby and feel the warm sun on my face. And I couldn’t help but think of my Creator, forming these things for our enjoyment and sustainability. How much he must love us to create such beauty, and how it gives us a glimpse of who he is! It was an afternoon I knew that I would never forget.  

It was a special moment in the mountain village that day. We laughed, played basketball with pine cones and an old wire wrapped around like a hoop, drank the mountain tea and ate the mushrooms that we had foraged for, and heard stories from our hosts about their childhood and what it’s like living in a place like this. But the words that still stick closest to me were the simple ones spoken by a gentle new friend, assisting an overworked, overstressed, and overplanned woman up a mountain: samo polako…just slow.