“How in the world can you afford to travel for a year?”
Well, to be honest, we couldn’t only a few years ago and we are still leaning heavy into grace, favor, and service for room and board opportunities.
I want to be clear to anyone who cares; we have no intentions of going on a 12 month vacation and have coined the term “The Year of Service” as a better descriptive for this quickly approaching time abroad.
Whether we work in food banks or pick up garbage, take classes, or work as groundskeepers or kitchen staff, we are happily contacting various ministries all over Europe and the Middle East planning for a season of serving without strings.
In passing, we have looked into a TESOL training course in South Africa, although the one in Thailand is probably more likely. Or maybe India. It depends on the dates and the costs. Or maybe not at all.
We are flexible like that.
How do we “afford” it now is largely due to one simple, hard-won, fiercely defended state of being:
We are willing to let everything go and we don’t have debt.
We don’t owe personal, medical, or credit cards, real estate, cars, or even a store card or line of credit. We don’t have any kind of obligation to anyone. Well, except the “debt of love”, y’all. *squishy Christian Side Hug ensues* (Romans 13:8 – Hi-Fives the Apostle Paul)
Now, before you get all huffy with me, please know that we are rejoicing in our status today, but this hasn’t always been true. There have been miracles along the way. Even just today. However, the current state of our life, this brilliant and beautiful truth makes dreaming possible, even attainable, for us.
Sure, we live in a not-so-fancy rental. Yeah, our cars are ALL over 10 years old. Definitely, we wear thrift store clothes and buy most of our tech off Craigslist and eBay. It seems normal that every piece of furniture in my house except for the blanket chest in the boy’s room is 2nd hand and even my wedding ring is a mish mash of found treasure.
Yet, when you come over, I hope you will see God’s faithfulness to provide us with a cozy nest for this season.
That’s all well and good, but giving it all up for a wisp of a dream?
That’s what is hard to “afford”.
After years of praying for rich friendships for our sons, we are pulling up roots in the middle of finding just those relationships and learning to trust God to keep those friends who truly love us while giving grace to those who just saw us as convenient.
The other day, trying my level best NOT to be twitchy on camera, we sat around a single laptop and Skype-talked to a young man for over an hour and a half. We were interviewing for the possibility of a 6 week volunteer position to harvest grapes with local farmers in Samaria. That’s up at 5:30 and working in the fields, living in a single room (hoping we get a mattress because we are old and married, y’know) and sharing a house with strangers. It’s communal living, head coverings, long skirts, and men with biblical beards.
What does this mean to me? It’s head coverings and buying long cotton skirts on Amazon Prime. It’s pony tails, buns, and tank tops under all my shirts.
It’s leaving the little red lipstick in it’s case and being plain and un-jeweled for a season because, in the grand scheme of things, those are just window dressing and I’m going to their party. It isn’t about me being “well put together” but about serving others. Vanity isn’t needed… Besides, there’s always going to be Europe for opportunities to flash the Marilyn Monroe lips and sparkle.
But back to “affording”…
The United States is the 6th wealthiest country in the world. Even our poor are wealthier in assets and opportunities than could even be imagined in developing countries.
Still, we shake our head at bellringers at Christmas and despise the scruffy man on the corner with the battered cardboard sign. I say WE on purpose because I have struggled with these issues right beside you.
Life in a rut of complacency and fascination with all the things we must OWN, slowly metamorphosing from the passionate disciple to the “Rich Young Ruler” who, while adhering to the letter of the law, struggled to follow the Master outside of a well-established comfort zone.
20 And he said to Him, “Teacher, I have kept all these things from my youth up.” 21 Looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him and said to him, “One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” 22 But at these words he was saddened, and he went away grieving, for he was one who owned much property.
Matthew 10:20-22 NASB
I’m sitting in a house full of boxes, rapidly emptying closets and cupboards, thanks to a huge yard sale and Craigslist. The savings account is building and we are seeking God daily for a plan for that day while trusting Him with tomorrow. Just today, TODAY, we were forgiven a major debt by a national company. And wished well on our travels.
I kid you not. Tears, folks, TEARS.
It is a radical adjustment.
But we truly couldn’t afford not to go, my friends. You see,The Master is calling and we have decided to sell it all and follow Him.
Pray for us. We will be chronicling our story on this blog on the page Stone Sabbatical
Let me know if you want to be on our mailing/newsletter list. Send emails to email@example.com and I will add you to our database.