Last year I was handed the keys to a beautiful, brand new company car…with 6 miles on it. My phone automatically synced with the radio when I climbed into the plush driver’s seat. Car washes, gas, and maintenance were completely covered. Today, I am driving a borrowed 1997 passenger van, with unknown mileage, to shuttle volunteers all over Puerto Rico. I only have access to the keys some of the time. The AC doesn’t work, the inner tread on the front tires is worn badly, and I have to physically pull on the cable behind the plastic door cover to unlock almost every door. The push button start doesn’t work either.
Last year I had a 401k package, a bimonthly pay check, access to great technological equipment/programs and experts in the field, and a lot of flexibility. This year I have been chipping away at my life savings. No pay checks, no packages securing my future; instead, I pay to volunteer at a missions camp. There are no “experts” in this field. There isn’t much time for flexibility during the busy season. As far as technology goes, somehow, thankfully, my 7 year old Dell is still allowing me to type.
Some days, and a lot of nights, I question what must have been going through my mind for me to decide to leave the job I started right after college. It was a good job. It had nice benefits. I had planned to stay there for my entire career, right out of the chute. I enjoyed the hands-on aspects. But I wanted to be around people. I needed to be around people. And these last several months, I have been around people day and night, weekdays and weekends, in bars, cafes, restaurants, churches, buses, cars, trains, planes, kitchens, living rooms, passenger vans, city squares, ancient ruins, at fire pits, concerts, birthday parties, festivals, public parks, hostels, on balconies, the beach, trails, rooftops, and hoods of cars.
When I think about all of this, I know everything has been worthwhile. I think about every conversation. Every interaction. Every opportunity to show compassion. Every time I was able to meet a need, share my testimony, talk about Jesus, or experience something new; these things are what make life abundant. My life was abundant while working my old job. I had new experiences, and I made use of the interactions…but I knew I needed to live as I have for these past several months. I am thankful for all the provision, all the meals, all the hugs and handshakes, every warm welcome, new friends and family, the sites I was able to visit, and the cultures I have been able to truly experience. I am constantly in awe of God, and the way He shows His faithfulness, even as I stumble.
I am thankful for the last several weeks I have had here in Puerto Rico, after all the backpacking excursions through Europe and the time in Africa, and a few days at home. My time here will be up in a few weeks. I’ll make a visit home, hopefully catch up with several of you, and be back to “it,” this life I have been living these past few months. My current hope is to start writing more, in significant quantities, on significant topics. I would also like to take some time in October (and maybe November) to travel the US. I have an old truck, and an old camper, and I think they would survive. I would like to visit church groups from the states that have visited Puerto Rico while I have been down here, maybe share with some of the youth groups and discuss missions. I also hope to visit national parks, visit cities, visit friends, and visit family.
As for what is to follow that: I am looking. I am praying. Part of me misses risk and loss prevention engineering, part of me wants to look at design opportunities to more directly utilize my mechanical engineering degree, and part of me enjoys the thought of missions. If you would, please keep me in your prayers.
If you would be interested in having a visitor stop by your church (I’d love to share also), please let me know.
Hope y’all know you are greatly loved, by God and by me.