This is my 4th week of volunteering for Rio Coco in Utila, Honduras. Next week I will be heading to Vero Beach, Florida. So far, in the 23 years of my life, I have never had plans change as drastically as they have this year. Right now I am supposed to be in West Virginia hiking to Maine on the Appalachian Trail raising money for AmberFund Scholarships. One of my greatest passions is hiking, enjoying the beauty of creation, and today as I sit on the back porch of my current residence I am overwhelmed by the view. A vast body of water of which I live right next to. I have had the joy of snorkeling, swimming and paddle boarding on the clear waters of the Caribbean for nearly 4 weeks now. During which I have had plenty of time to ponder. During the months of March, April and May I felt as if my life was on hold. My knee was ruining one of my greatest dreams. A dream that I had been thinking about everyday for almost 2 years. I am not a person who gives up and for one of the few times in my life I felt as if I had been beaten. I was injured and was put on the bench until further notice. X-rays showed nothing wrong with my knee. My MRI showed nothing wrong with my knee but lo and behold when I hiked 3-4 miles with ascents and descents the pain started and to continue forward was a battle I knew I couldn’t face, especially for 5 months on the Appalachian Trail. So my starting date of April 15th passed by. With no clue where to go from there I applied to 5 ministry jobs. 4 of which I got called back for interviews and 1 of which I was offered. I applied out of a feeling of lack of purpose. Once I realized that a ministry job in the states could be a reality I prayed for direction. To my dismay I felt sick to my stomach about taking any of these jobs. There was no peace. 1 month later I found myself still in Vero Beach, Florida. While hardly making any money I began volunteering at a “Humanic” Coffee Shop. Rio Coco Beans. The first I had heard of Rio Coco had bean an early morning in college over 2 years ago. I woke up to the smell of my roommate making coffee. He offered me a cup. I noticed the words, “Rio Coco” on the bag of coffee beans, drank the coffee, and went to class. Who would have thought that just 2 years later I would be overseas volunteering for that very coffee shop.
This has been a tough few months for me. However, since my time here I have realized a few things.
1. Purpose is not found in a well paying comfortable job. Yes, logically I know this is the truth. That purpose is found solely through Jesus Christ. I’ve known this for quite a while. However truly applying it to ones life is a different ball game. Knowing its completely safe to jump off a bridge with a bungee chord attached to you versus actually jumping off that bridge with the chord is much different. Intellectually understanding that purpose comes only from Jesus is one thing but Mentally applying it to your life is another. It requires you step off that bridge. Which can be terrifying.
2. I am not as flexible as I would like to believe. I grew up in a church with the Acronyms COP which stand for Cathedral of Praise. All of those heavily involved knew they stood for something else, “Change Of Plans.” I’ve always assumed that I am very flexible because of the practice of change I received from my home church. I was wrong. I learned how to be flexible with things that aren’t of high personal importance. Such as changes in music, messages, chair arrangement, meeting times, etc. These things were never truly changes in my plans but changes to a group of peoples plans. When my personal plans of hiking the entire Appalachian Trail went out the window it was very difficult for me to cope. No one could really tell but inside of me was a overwhelming theme of, “unsureness” which threw my mind into chaos.
3. Sometimes what I want is not what God has for me. Some of the greatest advice I received was from one of my worship pastors back home. When I didn’t know what God wanted me to do with my life I went to him and asked for his advice. I told him I had prayed and prayed and prayed but had not received an answer. He said to me, “Nick, what do you want to do? Because when you are close to God, his desires become your desires.” I took that advice a little to far. Staying close to God and reaching for my desires while rarely asking him for direction. I still think this is great advice however I would add that sometimes it is the wrong advice. Sometimes what God has for you is not what you want for you. God knows me better than I know myself and I wonder that if I would have truly sought God on the decision to hike the Appalachian Trail in one go if I would have had a peace about it. Asking for God’s direction, staying close in a relationship with him and chasing healthy desires both mine and his are all vitally important.
As for now, I have 1 week left here in Utila. There are so many people here that I connect with. These people are backpackers. They come from all over the world. New Zealand, Australia, France, Israel, Chile, Argentina, United States, Canada, England, and many other places. Their stories are riveting and sometimes shocking. Many of these stories I am trying to grab on film to show the world. I have 9 days left and would like at least 3-5 more interviews. So if you are reading this pray that God intervenes and brings to me people willing to share their stories so I can share them with you.