Georgia to Maine

20150416_140245We applied for a summer position in Maine just before last Christmas and were delighted to receive news only weeks later that we had landed the job. They were even happy about us having young kids to bring along! So, all winter long we parked our little Airstream in northeast Georgia to camphost at Victoria Bryant State Park so that I could finish a freelance project in the area, and we waited for April to arrive. We visited family and friends as much as possible, and we set the day for our departure towards Maine – April 7. Before we knew it, winter was over, spring was upon us, and it was time to set our GPS to take us north. April 7 did indeed come, so we rolled out with a general plan in mind but heaps of room for surprises and adventures along the way. The plan was to head to North Carolina and visit a couple of old friends stationed there with the Air Force, swing through Delaware, spend a week in Washington D.C. to round out our school year, and visit as many free science museums (with our ASTC passport) and free camping spots (with our Harvest Host membership) as possible along the way. We made a Google Map of the best possible route and added all sorts of POI’s along the path, and we were off – out on a new adventure – traveling to a place none of us has ever been before.

It all sounds so magical and abstract, doesn’t it? It’s almost like a separate reality when it makes its way onto the screen. However, the living of it is quite the opposite. It’s actually real life. There are really fun days and really frustrating days. There are wild horses, beautiful beaches, outstanding landmarks. And there are dirty dishes, mounds of laundry, smelly gray tanks, limited funds, and dirty floors. All of which makes me so thankful – thankful that I’m in my place, thankful that it’s not super easy, thankful that I get to be on this leg of the journey, thankful this isn’t just a vacation, thankful I’m doing what I was born to do.

Honestly, I have always loved to travel. Maybe it was growing up with auctioneering grandparents who traveled all over the country and brought back mysterious treasures from unseen lands like “Utah” and “the Great Lakes”, or maybe it was the feeling of those family vacations as a kid to Daytona Beach and Jekyll Island – seeing a place for the very first time. Also, I have always hated going home from the trip. I can vividly remember crying on the last day of vacation at the thought of going home, and as a teenager being a full-blown emotional catastrophe on the last day of a mission trip – I just never wanted the adventure to end.  So a little over 2 years ago, after hearing very clearly from God the words, “What if it’s time to go?” I stumbled upon this idea that it might just be possible to turn my life (and the lives of my little family) into an adventure – a mission trip – a vacation – that I never have to leave. I ordered a couple of books written by folks who had mastered “full-time travel,” and I read their formulas for working remotely, picking up temporary jobs, and writing as they saw the world’s most beautiful places. But for me, it had to be about more than that. And in the past 18 months or so, it has been so much more.

20150413_101722So today we are out there – tackling the open road in a place we’ve never been before. We know no one until we meet them, and things don’t exactly work the same as they did back home. There haven’t been any huge opportunities – no conferences, talk shows, big meetings, large crowds. There also haven’t been any earth-shattering revelations or epiphanies – Just us meeting people one by one, listening and sharing, and trying to find a few churches here and there that have open doors. So, honestly, if this was just a vacation, I might be tempted to go home now. I might just want to keep to myself, see all I can see, focus only on taking care of my family and paying my bills. But it’s not – it’s so much more. There are people who don’t see a smiling face all day long, until they see me. There are people who don’t find a compassionate wave all day, until they find me. There are families who are on the brink of losing hope, until they talk to me. So I’m going to keep on going. Not that I get to have great conversations with people every single day, because I don’t. Not that I get to help every person I meet, because I don’t. Not that I even get to make a new friend or talk to someone about something important every single day, because I don’t. But I’m out there. My door is open. My heart is clear. I am ready. Opportunities come and go, but the readiness and the willingness stay. Not because I’m anything special – not because I have some magic formula – Just because of what God has done in me.

I think this can be said for a lot of us. You may not have the opportunity talk to someone today, but you are ready. You may not have the chance to help someone today, but you are willing. You may not know anyone who needs a friend, a smile, a note that would turn their day around, but you are looking – always looking for someone who needs it. You may not be able to do something “big,” but you are doing what you can. You may not be building a church, but you are calling a friend who is lonely. You may not be going on a mission trip to Africa, but you are taking dinner to someone who has a sick child. You may not be organizing a benefit, but you are having a coffee with someone who is grieving. And you’re always looking for the next step – just like us.

We are happy to be on our way to Maine this spring, but this is just a small part of the road ahead. We’re scheduled to work in Maine through the first part of October, and then we hope to head out west and after that, who knows where? Who knows who might be encouraged when they see our website on the Airstream going down the road and take the time to read some of the blog? Who knows who might give God another chance just because He sent us to tell them He loves them? Who knows who might make a better choice just because they saw this wacky family who has found a way to live with joy that makes them know it’s possible for them too? Even if it’s just one single person – that is what keeps us going, even when it’s tough.

 

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