A climb over a broken down border wall and I just added to my list of countries “visited” by planting my feet illegally into Bhutan for 30 seconds. My travel partners and I found a breach in the wall and hopped over. We tried to get in legally, but it just did not happen on this trip due to the difficulty and expense for Americans desiring a visa.
Depending on what list you go by, there are between 193 and 196 countries in the world. Even though I do not make it a goal to add countries to my list like lining up trophies proudly on a shelf, when I stepped into Bhutan, it became my 69th country “visited.” Bhutan has a mystique about it that draws travelers to her. The mystique is birthed from both things real (like beckoning Himalayan heights) and things unknown (from a culture clouded in secrecy).
The pastor from this corner of the world we had come to profile lives within shouting distance of the border. He can easily go in and out of Bhutan. We can’t. It was a reminder that American passports are not always to be desired. The power of the little blue book becomes impotent.
But the pastor is not powerless. As an Indian citizen he has the freedom to cross the border without restraint. And he does. He serves the sick, elderly and lonely. I’m glad the doors are open for him.
The important point here is not that I have traveled to 69 countries, but that I (and my traveling companions as well) have been fortunate to tell the stories of people all over the world like this pastor that are giving their lives selflessly to others.
FYI: Because of the sensitive nature of this pastor’s work I may not be able to share his profile on this blog.