It really started after I left college, and tried to live out my dream of starting a ministry in Erie, PA. It was an ambitious multi-year plan. After 4 months, I still didn’t have the job I needed to support myself and I missed my friends from college terribly. I ventured a trip to see my college friends, and it was too much. I decided to move back. I lined up a tentative place to live, and had no job. My parents didn’t think it wise and didn’t want me to go. I went. The place I expected to live fell through.
I was without a home, but this is where I wanted to be, and I believed myself better off. It was hard. It was disappointing. I learned a lot about hospitality, and lack of, over the 2 months I bounced around, finally landing for a month with the family that ran Issachar’s Loft. I worked a few temp jobs, and finally ended up with one that payed the bills well enough. I soon moved to downtown York with a former roommate, and we lived in the inner city for 5 months. He got married. I decided to go back to Erie to give it another go. And failed.
I moved to Colorado after that. It wasn’t a wise move, in terms of preparation. I had $200. No job in Colorado, but did line up a place to live, with a fam who’d help me get settled. Again, not everyone thought I should go. I went. There were difficulties, but the risk paid off. I ended up with better jobs than I would ever had had in Erie and found a church that was good for that season.
I never planned to stay in Colorado, and decided to move back East, to explore living somewhere in Pennsylvania, most likely Pittsburgh or Harrisburg, or possibly go overseas for the first time. I looked at Americorps, applied to some jobs, and really nothing opened up. I lived with my parents for 5 months, and moved to the other side of the earth, otherwise known as New Zealand…by myself.
With a working holiday visa in hand, I arrived in Auckland, and made my way over the course of a week to Wellington. I attended The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King World Premiere with 100,000 other people. I stayed in the hostel there, meeting a number of people, stayed with some new friends for a few days, and went hunting for a job and a flat. That was quite the experience.
Now, let me tell you about how I move and travel. I don’t plan all the details. But I do my research. I prepare. I have maps, an idea where to head, what to look for. Before I went over, I created a website to store copies of documents, and read lots of travel websites. It’s that kind of preparation that enabled me to plan on the fly, as needed. I found a flat with some great flatmates very different than myself in many ways, none of whom shared my faith, which was a first for me, and a good experience. When my money was about to run out, I got a job, a 10 minute walk from my flat, and it carried me for 5 months, at which time I turned down a permanent job offer (which some people think me crazy for doing).
My final month I traveled the South Island solo, taking my time, absorbing all the incredible scenery, meeting interesting people. It got lonely though. There were people to hang out with, but it wasn’t the same as having a companion with me. Again, I was prepared, but flexible. I prefer it that way, leaves room for serendipity. Such as I found at Fox Glacier, as I walked to Lake Matheson on a cloudy day. The mirror lake is a famous photo spot. The clouds parted just as I arrived, and it was one of those moments when I was in awe of God and felt His love. Even on the other side of the world, God is able to sustain.
I returned to Colorado after, where I have been the past 4 years. I’m very different from Chris McCandless, but there’s plenty I can relate to in his journey. I don’t always understand this thing called life. It’s much more untamed than people think it to be, and at the end of the day, that’s the way my heart likes it.