Monday, March 1, 2010

tourist eyes

With great expectations we pulled into the commuter train parking lot and bought our round trip tickets.  The excitement built as we picked our seats.  The train has hand holds if you stand, and special spots just right for you and a friend.  We had a hard time staying in our seats.  The stops rolled by, new faces climbed aboard and some of us felt a little scared.

What did the man in the eye patch or the woman with the lap top and newspaper think of our giggling excitement and our continual picture snapping?  Who were we anyway to act as though their everyday routine was the stuff of memories?

To appreciate something, look at it as though you've never seen it before and may never see it again.  Today, we decide to do this forour city.  We tour some of the free sights.  We exclaim at the bulbs already forcing their way out in the cold February winter.  We choke up as we encounter a group of missionaries fresh from Russia and the Ukraine sight seeing before going out to selflessly serve.

We gasp as we tread on soft carpets, gaze at enormous chandeliers and examine naked cherubs decorating ceilings.

We stop and listen to an artist at practice on the organ.  Some of us are so impressed, when he comes to the end of his song, we applaud.

 We stop and stop and gaze at a brave Perregrin Falcon as it watches the city from its impossibly high and unique resting spot. 

We dabble in fountains, gaze into pools, and use their concrete edges as balance beams.  
At the museum, the older ones build temples, design stained glass windows, and perform a play of Lehi's dream.  The younger ones feed their nurturing instincts as they dress babies and fill out birth certificates.  Jodi and I watch, encourage, giggle and marvel over how fast this stage of our lives is slipping by.  We mourned the loss of lazy days at the park, play dough, and foam stickers.  We welcomed the new experiences shopping, talking, exploring, and life discovery that our children are moving into.

While supervising my children, I saw a young woman watching me hungrily.  She caught my eye,  I gave a smile.  She made her way over to me.  Why me I wonder.  I make polite conversation.  Jodi asks where she is from.  She shyly answers "Pakistan".  I am stunned.  The Middle East - ancient India, the seat of Muslim and Hindu unrest, one of the most ancient civilizations.  I am so passionate about her people, her history, and her future.  I choke up and tear up as I offer her a hug.  I did not realize there were missionaries in Pakistan.  She haltingly told her story and her difficulties.  I left her my e-mail and phone number.  "Will you remember me after my mission?"  "I will never forget you."  I replied.  "I am here for you and your family.  Whatever you need that I can provide.  I am willing.  I just wish we had hours to talk."

My complaint about touring other countries is that I never really get to SEE a place.  Too hurried, too little time, too little understanding leaves me frustrated and longing for more.  Today though, as we "tour" our own city, I wonder if tourists see more of a place and it's people than its residents who know what it looks like, smells like, feels like, and don't expect to see anything extraordinary.  Today, we had tourist eyes and our city was quite interesting.


  1. Love your posts, as always :)

  2. i agree with your frustration of touring other places and the lack of time and such. with that in mind i doubt tourists are able to appreciate the city and the people as one should. i think a person could even tour their own city as you did many times and still not see the beauty that lies under old bridges, the history sitting with homeless at the corner . . . im getting so mixed up in my thoughts and i really dont know what i am saying. i think its a beautiful thing you did to see your city as though you hadnt before - but i guess im trying to say maybe someone needs to do that more than five times or so to really see the beauty of any place.