I still remember sitting in foreign places imagining I would write this blog from my living room couch. Now, I’ve been here in the USA for three months and I’m finally getting to write. There is so much to be done between now and my next big step. I’m excited to tell you about everything currently going on, and my plans for the rest of the year. First let me tell you about the last part of my trip in Indonesia and Vietnam.
11 April 2015—It’s been one week now since my plane landed in Indonesia. Outside of making friends with a few local surfers, nothing has happened. I could have gone home after YWAM graduation, but I wanted to put myself in a situation where I had no choice but to make it or break it.
I’ve contacted every church, orphanage, and homeless shelter I can find. I even thought about volunteering at a nearby orangutan preserve. Anything to make me feel like I’m not wasting my time or my supporter’s money.
Frustrated and ready to go home, I’m nowhere close to giving up. I know I came here for a reason, and I know that if I stand on God’s promise something powerful is about to happen…
That week, I learned that dreams don’t happen unless you fight for them. You have talents and you are surrounded by people you can help. But there are a million reasons to quit. It gets discouraging. The voices in your head say you’re crazy. But if you hold on, the breakthrough happens.
Take my story for example. Everything I’m about to tell you took place in just 20 days right when I thought my trip was a complete failure! The turning point came when I connected by Twitter with Brian and Essly Harsanto. It turned out they were leaders at one of the largest and most influential churches in their nation. The next day I was on a plane to visit them in another part of Indonesia.
I could never paint a picture of all that happened during that time. It’s going to be hard for someone to read this and truly take it in. Here are just a few of the stories.
I got off the plane looking more homeless than ever, was taken directly to the church where they accepted me as one of their own and treated me like a prince.
After church I met Ayub and James, two other leaders in the church. The next day they showed me around Bandung and they took me into the highlands. We hiked to the most beautiful waterfalls and built relationship. It was awesome to encourage them and be encouraged by them. Ayub is a singer/songwriter and James is the next big architect of Indonesia. [Photo below]
Next I met up with a young woman Phebe. She took me to a mother’s home that welcomes pregnant girls who have been rejected by their families. The girls and their newborn babies can stay there for up to two years until they can survive on their own.
I spent time with a man who built a mega soccer complex, not for money or fame, but to reach out in awesome ways to soccer lovers and to the younger generation.[Photo below]
I visited a village high in the mountains. I spoke there, and met a missionary who gave up his entire life to reach a struggling remote village. I was inspired. [Photo below]
I worked with a photographer who uses his talent to witness for Christ in the slums of Bandung. He takes pictures of people living in the slums and hangs giant billboards throughout the city—to create awareness. He sells portraits and gives the money to slum people. He motivated me to capture rare situations and expose them to the world.
I spent time at a boxing organization. They take in aggressive street kids with AIDS. Through boxing they educate these kids about their condition and teach them how to use their aggression in a positive way. [Photo below]
I connected with a soccer organization that recruits homeless athletes from all over Indonesia. They invest in these people and train them for an international tournament in Amsterdam.
Everyday, I interacted with fearless people like the ones I mentioned, who had a dream and went for it! They realized that they had awesome talents, and they found a way to use them. And because of that, they transformed many lives.
Just like these people, God wants you to do what you love and live for Him here in the USA or anywhere in the world. I don’t just view missions as big time preaching and mass healing crusades. I see it as everyday people like you and me living life to the fullest and being selfless while sharing God’s love. Be a missionary where you are.
Overwhelmed with joy from my time in Indonesia, I was ready to enjoy this last leg of my trip—in Vietnam. I could not wipe the smile off my face and it was spreading to everyone around me. I guess the lesson here is about the power of a simple smile. In a world filled with sad and angry people, you can change the atmosphere with your happiness. That’s what I set out to do in Vietnam. I didn’t realize the favor that would bring me!
I was picked up from the airport by Trung, a friend of Phebe (from Indonesia). Trung and I connected instantly, like we were lifelong friends. He took time off work to show me around his city for the next three days. I could tell right away that Trung was very stressed about his work and needed this time with me. He blessed me with the greatest tour, and I blessed him with friendship, laughter, and even some relationship therapy. Lol.
On the plane from Ho Chi Minh to Hanoi, the power was flashing on and off like we might crash. I decided to make it fun for everyone sitting near me, and I made friends with Quyet. Then, he saved me from the dangers of Vietnam taxis by offering to drive me around. He invited me to stay at his house, but I already had a room booked at the hostel.
The next morning I took a boat to Cat Ba Island. I had reservations at a hostel. While checking in, I really clicked with the owner and I booked a $27 tour. The next morning he told me that I was upgraded to a $300 private tour of Ha Long Bay. He fed me dinner that night, and then for two more nights. Each night, I bonded more and more with his family. On the last night, he offered me the greatest gift of all: His daughter’s hand in marriage! Haha [Photos below]
I was never alone for the entire trip. I was meeting new people and making new friends. For example, my last moments were spent with a young Israeli guy. We spent the night walking around Hanoi before my 12am flight home. It’s amazing to realize the bond we have with Israel and how much we take it for granted.
As you can see, life is better when you smile and make it happier for the people you meet. To me life is about the stories you have to tell. Smiles make happiness, happiness makes stories, and stories determine the quality of ones life.
Here’s What’s Next
When I got home I did small things around the community to help, but it wasn’t enough. As I searched for ways to increase my impact, the answer came to me sitting in Jakes Bar & Grill when the manager asked me work there. I took this job as a mission and not just a job. It was the perfect way to keep my purpose alive, and earn money for my next mission. The owners are a Christian couple who lost their son serving our county in Iraq. They really made a difference in my life, and they say I made a big difference working there. If you’re ever in town visit Jakes for an unforgettable burger!
With each step I take, the big plan is starting to unfold. Now I’ve seen it first hand: In remote highland villages throughout the world, there is often deep poverty and oppression. The mountains are populated with beautiful, humble people struggling to survive. I want to spend my life helping these people find health, happiness, and Christ.
My plan is similar to the work I did in Nepal. The human trafficking prevention organization I worked with there has one of the greatest mission plans I’ve ever seen.
First, they open a new trek to a highland village. Then they build a lodge to host missionaries going into the village. By doing this, they are constantly sending fun, loving missionaries, they are increasing tourism revenue for the villagers, and they are lowering the chance for oppression from sex slave traffickers and sweatshop owners. I’ve seen it with my own eyes. They bring real life to people who are completely without hope.
I feel like they have discovered the greatest method for reaching remote villages around the world, and I feel like I’m called by God to do something extremely similar. [Photo: Sweatshop children. Photo source: Google]
Since I have a strong love for the people in South America, I’m going to the Andes Mountains in Peru, Bolivia, and Argentina. I’m leaving on September 21 and I’ll be gone for a minimum of 3 months. During this time I’ll be scouting 3 locations to relate with the people and research their needs. While I’m there I plan to help them however I can, and witness about Christ.
After that I will select one of these locations, and I will go there to begin my bigger work!
Partner With Me
I can live on almost nothing and I always make every dollar count. As my partner you can do something beautiful for people you might not ever have a chance to meet. Think about how fulfilling it will be to read my updates and know that YOU are funding me.
For this next phase, I need to raise $1500 in monthly support—a very low amount compared with the impact I’ll have. Monthly support is most important to me now. That’s just 15 people giving $100 per month, or one person giving $1500 per month! (Haha)
I’m late asking for support, so I need to raise my immediate budget for September through December. Please read through the list and donate to something that interests you!
$1800 Round-trip airfare to South America.
$560 Food ($5 per day).
$880 Lodging ($8 per day).
$1500 Flights between Argentina, Peru, and Bolivia.
$750 Transportation and emergency needs.
More than my current mission, you are investing in me, as a person you believe will change the world. I thank you for that and I look forward to taking this journey with you.