Tuesday, March 28, 2017

The Freedom to Serve

One of the joys of traveling full-time in our RV is seeing friends and family on a regular basis.  When catching up, I’m often asked if I still enjoy what we do.  My optimistic instinct is to quickly reply, “Oh, sure.  We are loving it!”  But have I given it any real thought, or do I just spout off the answer?  Because honestly, what kind of fool would I have to be to say, “No, we’re quite unhappy, but we’re choosing to suffer through nonetheless.”  No answer but a resounding, “Of course!” is appropriate.  But I have given it more thought recently, and like most areas of life, it’s the relationship between expectations and reality that creates a satisfaction or dissatisfaction with the current situation.  If I expected the RV life to allow me to go fishing every day, but I’m not able to do so, that would create potential for dissatisfaction.  If I thought I’d be able to spend more time with the kids, only to find that I spend ALL time with the kids, that could (and is) a great positive. 

We certainly had lofty expectations when first discussing the full-time RV idea.  We would travel far and wide across the country, volunteering our time in whatever capacity was appropriate.  Our kids would learn the value of serving and loving others.  I would spend several months a year building up my own handyman skills with Habitat for Humanity.  Brynn and I would help with local orphanages, homeless shelters and wherever else a need existed.  Maybe even be able to do short term mission work in other countries.  A week here or there.  Nothing big, but enough to make a difference in the lives of those we serve, and to be forever changed ourselves as a result.
This concept was probably what we were most excited about.  With no house or full-time employment to tie us down, we could park the RV in a storage lot, and within days be prepared to travel anywhere in the globe to accomplish whatever God had in store for us.  We could stay for weeks or years, however we feel led.  With no house or job to tie us down, we’d be free to serve in this world in an extraordinary way.  Would we end up working with children in Haiti or India?  Aiding communities in Africa, or maybe mission work within our own borders?

Alas, none of the above has happened.  Three children is a considerable “anchor” to prevent the random mission work, or at least I perceive it as so.  Though I don’t work fulltime, the work I do in the Reserves is enough to make me have to consider the career impact of some sort of long term mission work.  So when mentioning the grand mission work expectation to a close friend or family member, I usually share it with the slightest hint of disappointment.  We haven’t become missionaries in some far off land or even in our own backyard.  I haven’t even managed to wield a hammer for Habitat for Humanity.  We’ve fallen short in this area more than I ever expected.

Or did we?

A few weeks ago I was slapped upside the head with something so obvious.  No, we haven’t left the country.  And even in traveling all over the country we are rarely more than bicycling distance away from our mobile house.  But mission work has become a daily part of our routine, and it happened without me even realizing.  

Shortly after Brynn and I left our careers and sold our home, then hit the road with the three kiddos, an opportunity arose.  It wasn’t to move to West Africa to raise orphans, but an overwhelming sense of calling came upon Brynn.  She became a Compassionate Entrepreneur with Trades of Hope.  Through something as simple as marketing handmade items in our country, she has had and continues to have a positive impact on women in countries all over the world.  The mission work that I thought we might one day do, made possible by our “no ties” RV life, has become a reality through Trades of Hope.  It’s kind of crazy to me to think of how all this fell into place so shortly after we began this phase of life.  I roughly estimate that Brynn’s work as a Compassionate Entrepreneur provides sustainable business for at least 6 women each month.  These women are able to feed their children, provide a roof over their heads, clothes on their backs, and even pay for school for each member of their family.  These are things that may have been nearly impossible otherwise, and Brynn manages to make this difference in their lives while living the most unique life of her own.  If we’re on a 6 hour jaunt in the car, there she is with her lap “desk” covered with paperwork, postcards and the tablet, making it all happen.  Even as I write this, she sits at the dinette and is working her business, directly supporting the business of another woman somewhere far off in the world.  Pretty cool! 

So when I’m asked if we are still enjoying RV life, I can quickly and honestly say, “Yes, absolutely!”  The RV life has brought about the great opportunity and blessing of Brynn being a Trades of Hope Compassionate Entrepreneur.  Her involvement in this company is a big part of what makes our full-time RV life so successful.  It creates purpose and excitement to our lives beyond the joys of raising children, and provides a substantial income while doing so, all while on the road.  I’m not sure where the road may lead most months, but I know wherever it does, Trades of Hope will be a part of it.

If you’ve ever thought you want to make a difference in this world, but your life has too many obstacles of its own for you to step out to help others, don’t be discouraged.  Being a missionary in the slums of India isn’t the only way to make a difference anymore.  You can make a difference right where you are, right now, no matter your position in life.  It doesn’t have to be through Trades of Hope, but this company has shown me that it really is possible little by little, to make a difference in this world.  Trades of Hope just makes it easy.

If you want to learn how to help or be a part of Trades of Hope yourself, get in touch with Brynn at www.mytradesofhope.com/brynnwhitehurst