Why we need to live connected lives

There were no mishaps in the past two weeks of traveling through Israel, and crossing the border into Jordan and Egypt.


Photo credit: Camel driver’s young son


No mishaps landing in San Francisco, getting through customs, or driving north to Oregon. Until.

Until — just ten minutes from home — my tire blew.

While waiting for the emergency roadside service, four young men stopped. They insisted they could have the tire changed in a few minutes.

Cole, Jon, Quinn and AJ lived up to their promise while I stood in amazement. They were polite and smart and worked well together as a team.

“Do you always stop and rescue people?” I wanted to know.

Cole, the tallest, answered with modesty, looking a bit embarrassed: “Yeah, we try to help people who look like they need help.”


 Quinn, Jon, Cole and AJ — knights in shining armor T-shirts


Whoever raised these fine young men: Thank you for doing such a fabulous job teaching them good manners, work ethic, and thoughtfulness in rescuing damsels in distress.

But there’s more to the flat tire story: After my four new friends from LaPine drove away, I got into my vehicle and turned the key. Nothing. Absolutely, completely, utterly dead.

Which means I placed another call for roadside emergency service.

But before they could arrive, a female state trooper stopped and charged my battery.

“Wow, I didn’t know state troopers offered battery-charging assistance,” I said, while thanking her.

“Only for special people,” she replied with a grin.

As grateful as I am for these stellar young men, for this polite and helpful state trooper, it reminded me that in our travels in the Middle East, my nieces and I came across mostly kind, considerate, generous people.

Locals pointed us in the right direction; they made sure we got off at the right stops while using public transportation.

There was the Muslim family in Nazareth, owners of our AirBnB rental, who invited us to share the iftar meal with them, the breaking of the Ramadan fast. Unforgettably delicious roasted chicken, white fish, rice, sauces, humus, pita bread, fresh tomatoes and cucumbers.

There was the Jewish couple, friends of my niece’s friend, who met us and provided a walking tour in the area of our apartment near the Jaffa Gate in Jerusalem.

There was the Palestinian Christian tour guide who invited us to share the noon meal in the shade of their balcony overlooking Bethlehem, prepared by his pregnant wife. More amazing Middle Eastern food: roasted chicken, a seafood dish, lamb wrapped in grape leaves and steamed, a cucumber dill salad.

On our ride into Jordan, I exchanged email addresses with a young German couple who offered to host me the next time I visit Germany, and who I hope will take me up on my invitation to lead them on a hike or two when they visit central Oregon.

While in Jerusalem, my nieces and I toured through the Holocaust Museum. Here was the reminder that atrocities have been forced upon the innocent by monstrous tyrants. Unfortunately, in our travels through this earth, we will meet rude, selfish, hateful people.

But there will also be the kind, the heroic, the helpful, the generous, the courageous, the self-sacrificing, the tireless, the extraordinary, those who rescue damsels in distress.

This from Erwin McManus:

Contact with the world—it’s not optional; it’s essential. We are created for relationship. We are born for community. For us to be healthy, we must be a part of others.

This reminds me of how important it is to get plugged into our local communities. And it speaks to me of the larger world community.

Traveling serves as a reminder that mankind in general—and here I’m not referring to the tyrants or the terrorists—all have similar desires: We want a place of our own. We want freedom and safety and provision for ourselves and our loved ones. We want our lives to matter.

It’s easier to stay holed up in our safe and comfortable spaces. To not meet new people, to not venture out in case we get flat tires.

It wasn’t comfortable, for example, traveling ten hours overnight with frequent checkpoint stops in Egypt, an armed security guard riding shotgun (literally) in the front seat of our van.

And then to climb back into the same van and do the ten-hour overnight trip in reverse back to the Israeli border.

But in between the two tiring all-night rides, we toured through the Egyptian Museum that housed King Tut’s astounding burial bling, clambered onto the pyramids, admired the Sphinx, checked out the Papyrus Institute, and held onto large furry camels as they lumbered clumsily over desert sand.

I think my nieces would say with me: We are richer because of the people and adventures we experienced these past two weeks in the Middle East.

Irwin McManus goes on to say:

Independence is one thing; isolation is another. The more we live disconnected lives, the more we become indifferent to the well-being of others.

I so appreciate that the four young men from LaPine were not indifferent to my well-being on the side of a highway.

I want to live connected; to give back because so much support and care was shown to me as my husband was dying of cancer, as I stumbled into widowhood, and even this week in our travels.

Which begs the questions: Who do you need to accept help from, and who needs your assistance?

P.S. If you found this post inspiring or informational, please share, tweet or pin!


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  1. Lonnie Johnson

    That was very very good Marlys, inspiring!

  2. Brenda

    So, beautifully shared. Thank you for the reminder that at the core is so many beats the warm heart of those who truly care.

    It’s been our experience living and traveling abroad, and at home, we all are the same tribe. We love, laugh and look for the soul’s reflection in others. We have been assisted, and offered assistance in times of need. So many stories of genuine compassion and love.

    Keep traveling sweet lady and what an adventure you’ve had! Blessings and, shalom.

    • Beautifully said, Brenda: “We love, laugh and look for the soul’s reflection in others.” Keep traveling and offering assistance and collecting those stories of compassion, my friend.

  3. Peter

    I’m reminded of the two cycle challenges undertaken in ’96 & ’98 in Israel, Jordan & Egypt to support cancer concerns and the word ‘unity’ amongst those taken part was so necessary, each needed the other, no matter where we came from or who we were, we had a common purpose to support and help each other get through these challenges, otherwise the ‘ventures could not have been so successful. So, in our ‘today world’ I do believe we are experiencing more ‘unity’, more ‘caring and compassion’, especially amongst younger people. They are a good example to us all in sharing and ‘being there’ with their love and a need to ‘change this world’ for the better.
    Thank you Marlys for sharing the experience you had in the ‘Holy Lands’. Just a small thing that meant so much, yesterday I sang ‘Jesus on the Main Line’ – Ry Cooder style in a nearby village cafe and there were lots of cyclists present. I explained that on the evening I would be attending a fund raiser for the people caught up in the horrendous ‘Tower Block fire tragedy’ down in London, as our son David is a Firefighter. 5 cyclists said, ‘Sorry we can’t get there to be with you, would you take £5 from each of us as a donation AND “Will you sing that Jesus song for us”. Now, I wasn’t scheduled to be part of the music gig, however I explained to the organiser what the 5 cyclists had asked me to do, so at 9.30pm I sang it, the place was handclapping, singing along with me, dancing, the place was rocking. I could hardly believe what was happening. I got to sing one of my own Gospel songs to say thanks and when I came off stage, I was so drained, I just had to sit down. The highlight was when every singer/musician was invited back upon stage to sing Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Dreams’… 11 minutes later we faded out, young and not so young in togetherness… and all because those young cyclists gave of their kindness for me to share what God would have me do. Sorry for being long winded, but I just had to share with you and your readers. God Bless you all, I pray for a better world for all. Barbara & Peter.

    • I didn’t know you cycled through Israel, as well, Peter. I can’t begin to imagine what an adventure that must have been!

      What an amazing experience you had yesterday. So pleased you had such a fabulous opportunity, and ran with it!

  4. Adopted neice

    Love!! So beautifully written and so very accurate!! Thank you for your wisdom and always positive outlook!!

  5. Tracey

    HI Marlys. How encouraging. I loved the picture of those boys. They have strength and love in their hearts. I also can’t believe you and I both went to Israel and Jordan almost the same time. I would love to go on your next trip you plan. Ireland is next on my bucket list. Hugs and blessings.

  6. Marlys, it is so fun to travel the world vicariously through you. You have so many Indiana Jones adventures! I love the silver lining after silver lining that you find in flat tires, low batteries, and camel rides! Your gratitude is contagious! I’m doing a 30-day challenge (from the Holy Spirit) of listing 10 things a day of what I’m grateful for. I’m grateful for friends like you who help uplift my heart and show me how to have a better attitude. And photos of elegant dromedaries bearing Bendonians, definitely!

    • I love your way with words, Lynn! And I love the idea of listing 10 things a day for which you are grateful. What an awesome practice!

  7. Peter

    Tracey & Marlys…. please don’t turn your back on Ireland, it’s mythical, quirky, generous, beautiful.. why don’t you cycle there, it’s even better. Love, Barbara & Peter.

  8. Roxanne

    Hi Marlys, I was just thinking this morning that I hadn’t seen a blog from you for a few weeks and decided to check my mail and there it was! Sounds like you had a great trip, made some new friends and enjoyed yourself. Hopefully you will share some pics with us sometime soon.

  9. That was very very good Marlys Johnson, its veryinspiring!

  10. Angie White

    Not going to lie. I laughed when I read about your tire. Just so glad it happened in Oregon not Egypt. ? You are right, we see all richer people for having gone on this trip and meeting these amazing people. Your blog was great.

    • I’m sure you were laughing with me and not at me, right, Angie?! What an amazing adventure we had together. I will be grateful for this trip for the rest of my life. (Remember when Bree and her pack were so thoroughly scrutinized at all the borders! Hahahaha!)

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