I have been really excited to ride a motorbike. It’s one of those things that felt really dangerous and impractical in the states and yet completely necessary as a mode of transportation here. I still remember the first time I got on the bike behind my supervisor. She was taking me to the market to get some skirts, and with zero fanfare, I hopped on and clung to the bar behind me for dear life. I remember riding back from the market, my hands now full of bags and having to rest my hands on my legs, feeling like a champion that I was able to keep my balance. Riding behind someone driving became an amazingly cool experience, watching the open air shops and temples pass by around me.
So when I was given the opportunity to learn to drive a motorbike, I was ready. I had been getting tuk tuks to take me around, I had been walking everywhere else, and I was sweating through all my clothes. Needless to say, I was more than ready to give up my shade umbrella and start driving all over the city.
Everyone was ready!…until I actually tried to drive.
A teammate took me to a large empty parking lot to practice and get a feel for the bike. I settled in and took off at a controlled slow gate. Okay. Easy. Then I tried to turn. And I thought I was going to fall over. Every. Single. Time. Every turn I took I sped up too much or pulled the brakes too hard. I nearly ran into the one block in the entire parking lot and instead of hitting the brakes my hands pulled back on the gas and I flew forward! Thankfully I was able to pull the brakes hard before crashing, but that momentum threw my upper body over my handlebars and I slammed into the mirrors before yanking myself back to the seat.
There were some workers watching. My teammate kindly turned away. It was not my finest hour.
Graciously, at the end of my practice session my teammate offered to let me drive home. I told her, “well…I know the answer should be yes. I mean I really want to learn to drive. But maybe…maybe this time you should just drive.” I had been working really hard not to let opportunities pass me by. If someone told me to try something new, I tried it. If someone offered to take me somewhere, I went with them. No matter how new or strange or different, I tried to say yes! And the one time I said no, it didn’t really matter anyway. She took us down a hill and around a few of the harder turns and then slowed the bike down on the side of the road. “Okay. You take use the rest of the way.” I took a breath and we traded places. She took my bag so I wouldn’t have an extra thing to balance and we started.
Well we started, but it was way too slow. The bike shook like crazy, the handlebars going back and forth at an alarming rate. I slowed down more then sped up, then slowed down. “It’s a lot easier to go faster!” my teammate said, both laughing and shrieking as she rode. Finally, I gained speed and the handlebars evened out and we were going straight.
“Wait. What’s the noise?” There was an extra thumping now and my teammate waved a hand to the side of the road. “I think we have a flat. Pull over.” We pulled over (I nearly forgot to break and we almost went down a huge hill on the side of the road. Face palm) We checked. Yep. A flat. (Face palm again). We then had to push the bike down the road, a nice man coming up behind us to encourage us and tell us where to go. He drove ahead to tell a little store to stay open long enough to change our tire. It was hot and it was around 6pm so it was basically already dark. After changing the tire she drove home. I think that was for the best. I’d made enough of an impression for my first time.
A week later, I’m driving the bike to and from school, navigating traffic, and I drove home in the dark for the first time yesterday! No flats yet, but at least I know what to do when I get one again.
“I’ve never ridden a motorbike before…I’ve never had papaya salad before…I’ve never been to South East Asia…I’ve never…” Before I left I told my sister in law, kind of in an off handed way “I’ve never traveled internationally by myself before.” She just laughed and without missing a beat responded, “I think you’re about to do a lot of things you’ve never done before.” She was right. Driving a motorbike is new to me. I’m much better driving my car back at home than driving this new vehicle. But I’ve been driving a car for 10 years. I’ve been driving a motorbike for like…maybe an hour total. Maybe. It’s hard to tell people as I go 20kph below the speed limit that I’m actually a good driver. One, they’re going too fast and two, I can’t speak their language.
All the new can bring some anxiety. I won’t lie to you. The second time I got on the motorbike and drove to school, I was unbelievably anxious. The school is a ten minute walk, less than a mile, and I left early to avoid any traffic, so there was a lot of things to buffer the anxiety, but you’d think that driving in a parking lot would be fine too! When I arrived I wanted to text everyone I knew, I grinned from ear to ear, and I couldn’t stop thanking the Father for his provision of getting me there safely! Going home, I had to have a teacher start my bike for me because I couldn’t figure out the key. I was still thankful. It’s about baby-steps people!
Even writing this, I’m completely in awe that of the things I’ve done. But the awe isn’t so much how I do it, because I think it’s pretty embarrassing how scared I can be when I’m going about simple daily life. I’m in awe because of the Father’s provision. I have a way to get around and I’m figuring it out! The bike opens up so many doors to me, probably more than I even realize right now. I have a home that’s soon to be filled with roommates as of tomorrow! I don’t know them very well yet, but the Father brought them to me through my team and through the school! I don’t know the language yet but I’m trying and working and have a great school to learn.
I’m happy to announce that I’m a perpetual learner. I’m going to continue to do new things. I’m working to build my schedules and develop some routines. And I’m getting a chance to be courageous when it comes to facing my fears. There’s a lot new, but at least one thing remains the same. The Father is proving Himself over and over to be completely faithful and mindful of this particular daughter among sons.