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Bachelor Trips to Brag About

Bachelor Trips to Brag About

Bachelor trips have a bad reputation. Vegas means gambling away money. Amsterdam means a drug reverie. Just about any destination could mean gratification of wild, twentysomething sexual desires. But bachelor trips don’t have to fit these stereotypes. Let me introduce you to two 25-year-old guys who made their bachelor trip, a two-week Europe adventure, one worth bragging about.

Josh Shackelford and Nels Trygstad met their freshman year at the University of Wyoming. They have both graduated and now work as engineers by day and youth directors at their churches by night. Josh lives in Cheyenne, Wyo., and Nels in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Now that you know the basics, I should mention how I’m involved in this story. I am Josh’s girlfriend. I realize I am too close to these guys to be objective, but I want to share their story anyway because I discovered that God used their bachelor trip to mold His sons into more observant, compassionate and confident men who strive to lead lives of Christ-fueled integrity, men who will be leaders of church and culture. I write because too often people use vacations to forget their faith rather than use the time of rest to strengthen it.

Josh and Nels are quite different. They may share Christianity, engineering and a call to the ministry, but they approach life with polar-opposite personalities. Before jetting off to Europe on Nov. 24, 2004, Josh bought a new bag that would perfectly fit everything he would need. Imagine a 6-foot-1-inch boy scout. Nels decided he didn’t need anything that wouldn’t fit into a daypack. Josh had the original desire to see Europe and all the skills to easily book flights and hotels, but he needed a willing companion. Enter Nels, always ready for an adventure, always laid-back. Opposites attract, they say, or as Josh and Nels put it, “We couldn’t do a trip like this with two Nelses or with two Joshes.”

And so, the bachelor trip commenced. They flew into Frankfurt, Germany, then Eurailed through seven countries in 14 days. They strolled through quaint Fussen, Germany. They indulged their crazy, snow-loving selves with a day of snowboarding in the Alps. They lingered in Rome, Italy, marveling at this city of umbrella salesmen, scooters, gelato and grease-smothered pizza. They observed engineering gone wrong at the Leaning Tower of Pisa. They stopped in Switzerland, Belgium and London before returning to the United States on Dec. 9, tired, shaggy (I’d dared both to abstain from the use of razors), story-laden and changed.

“So, boys,” I ask, “how do you keep a bachelor trip clean?” Josh chuckles. “Don’t stay in a hostel with a smelly Scotsman” is his immediate, off-the-wall answer, alluding to his very traumatic experience of sleeping above a bunkmate with a serious case of B.O. However, both Josh and Nels understand the weight of the question. They quell their memory-driven laughter and speak with me candidly about every man’s vulnerability to sexual temptation.

“Europe is more open about sexuality than America,” they say, “but that is not why we went over there.” Even so, they had to keep each other accountable. For example, when a TV commercial for jeans showed a girl wearing ONLY jeans, they changed the channel, not allowing such an indulgence for even a moment.

“You can’t go over there with the attitude that what goes on in Europe stays in Europe,” Nels says. “Yeah,” Josh adds, “don’t think of it as an opportunity to get away with things just because no one is looking.”

Josh says you have to remember that “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it” (Psalm 24:1, NIV). Realize that you have the opportunity to put Americans and Christians in a better light by the way you behave. Be kind, generous and sensitive to the people you meet. “Know that a smile goes a long way,” Nels advises.

Even though these two bachelors explored great wonders of the ancient world, they discovered that their friendship was more wonderful, more worthwhile. “It’s cool to see things like the Coliseum,” Nels says, “but the time with Josh was worth more. Some of my favorite times were the train rides, where we could just talk.”

And talk they did. They used their time to discuss and pray about not being bachelors, to form a game plan for how to have an ideal relationship with a girl, one that will hopefully lead to a solid marriage. What a great time to share and form thoughts about this HUGE area of twentysomething life! Girls, be encouraged and know that guys have great aspirations for their lives with us. Guys, don’t be afraid to pull for each other as you strive to become Christ-fueled husbands.

Unfortunately, many bachelor trips do become stereotypical drug and sex orgies, stale and unfulfilling, but they don’t have to. Stereotypes beg to be broken, so rise up and obliterate them. Discover the world, and discover the fulfillment found in cleaving to a Christian brother. Josh and Nels did. They journeyed together, struggled together, got lost together and found truth together. I know they would urge every guy to do the same—as would I—because their bachelor trip changed my life, too. Let them go, girls. And remember, guys, don’t stay in a hostel with a smelly Scotsman.

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