Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Deer Trail 9/1/14

After leaving Denver, life seemed to calm down a lot. There just didn’t seem to be a lot of excitement. All the towns were about 10-15 miles apart. And by towns I mean a grain silo, a handful of houses and a gas station if I’m lucky.  So I had to find ways to entertain myself. I don’t know where I got this idea, but I decided I would try and learn a second language via Rosetta Stone. The only thing about Rosetta Stone is it’s so expensive. So I decided to get the less expensive and less good version (yes, less good haha). This video is very funny to me! You can hear how bad my Russian is...Haha.


This is a story that happened when I walked from Byers into Deer Trail, Colorado. Deer Trail is a very, very small town.  If I remember right, it has a population of like 561 (I looked that up...haha). The day I got there, two things were happening.  One, they were having a tractor pull.  In light of that, there were more people in Deer Trail than normal.  Number two, the town was having a vote on a unique proposal that highlighted the displeasure of the government surveillance which would have allowed people to get licensing to shoot down drones in local air space.  So, the little town of Deer Trail was having this big debate.  
So we are walking West to East on Highway 40 into Deer Trail. The city is mostly on the left hand side. The right hand side is really just a field with a gazebo in it. That’s what they call their city park. I decided that I would try to camp under that gazebo because I knew there was going to be a storm that night. I walked over and set my stuff down under the gazebo then sat on my backpack and looked across the street at the city and examined it. Across the street was a diner/bar and beside it was a vacant lot. Next to that looked like an abandoned mechanics shop. I could tell it didn’t ever have gas pumps, but it looked like a place that had fixed cars at one time. There were a lot of trucks pulled up in front, a lot of people outside smoking and they waved me over because they wanted to talk about the goat. It was the same old conversation..."What are you doing? What are you doing this for?"...blah blah blah. I could break the whole dialogue down for you, but I get tired of talking about the same conversation I have with people in every blog. One thing led to another, they invited me in to have some food and have a drink.
Okay, picture it: I’m in the bar with the mayor, some city councilmen and a few locals. To be honest, that was probably all of the people in the city government. First of all, everybody is pretty drunk at this point. They all surround me and mumble out a bunch of questions and I am trying to explain what I am doing. I usually don't take drunk people very seriously.  Once I know they are hammered, I just think "Okay, here we go."  I just don't really invest as much time into the situation.

So, the mayor and a couple of city council members start going so hard about Obama-Care towards me.  Then, they start asking me why I am helping people in another country when we have people who are in need here.  I try to explain that I don't see borders, I see humanity.  We are all humans; we are all alike in dignity.  God created us all alike in dignity and just because they live somewhere else or live in another country doesn't stop me from wanting to help people in need.  It isn't like I don't help in our communities.  I help whenever I can in local communities and serve in any way I can. He starts yelling at me, "You know, we have people in need here," and I say, "I understand that, sir. If you feel so strongly about it, you should do something about it.  You should get involved in your community."  Now, I know in a small community like Deer Trail, maybe it's more difficult to to find ways to get involved, but I was encouraging this guy to get involved in his community. The other part I always tell people is that I am a Christian and this is what God told me to do. So, if you have a problem with it, you need to talk to God about it. I am just doing what I am told.

Then the mayor goes off and somehow this whole drone thing gets brought up by somebody else and it goes crazy! Someone on the city council and the mayor just start yelling about government over-reaching, big brother, total chaos and they look at me and start asking, "What do you think?"  I honestly had no idea what they were talking about.  I kind of get removed from the topics or the issues of the day because I don't really follow the news too closely when I am out on the road; I don't often get a chance.  So, I didn't know anything about these drone strikes in other countries or flying overhead in the United States and spying on people.

Honestly, they were so drunk, they weren't making any sense.  I was pulled into this conversation and I am talking about things that I have no idea about.  The whole time, I am trying to figure out what is going on.  I am thinking, "Drone robots?  Like Star Wars, the drone wars or whatever. I don't get what you guys are even talking about." I excuse myself so I can go to the bathroom…

When I came back from the bathroom I did my best to excuse myself so I could go set up camp under the gazebo.






Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Watkins 9/10/14

Just continuing on my little adventure.  I had just left Denver and I walked through Watkins which is just this little town.  I mean, it was really great actually.  Watkins was probably one of my more favorite towns.  It was in the middle of nowhere with just a truck stop.  Mostly everything was abandoned.  I walked from Watkins to Bennett and this was during the time when they were having all that flooding in Boulder, Colorado in 2013.  There were literally crazy storms going on.  The most wild storms you have ever seen!  Just before I got to Watkins, the storm was so wild.  Sand and dirt were being picked up from the ground and were hitting you as well as rain, just incredible rain.  There was nothing out there; it was just flat.  There were no trees and no shelter.  It was really unique; a really unique time in the project because of all these storms.  Every night, every day, just storm after storm after storm so we were forced to try and get hotels as often as we could just to stay protected during these storms.  One storm in particular, it was so bad I thought that we were in some serious danger.  There was no bush or anything on the ground; there were no trees and there was really nothing to protect ourselves.  It seemed like the storms came out of nowhere.  All of sudden the sand and dust would be blowing over the road and you couldn't see anything.  You literally couldn't see in front of you it was such a bad storm.  The rain was coming down and then it would stop and the wind would come and it was just this mix of rain and dust and sand and wind and it was so chaotic.  This one time there was literally nothing to shelter LeeRoy and I so we went over to this barbed wire fence post and I remember getting LeeRoy kind of underneath my poncho and just hanging on with my hands wrapped up in the poncho and kind of making this little shelter that covered LeeRoy and I.  He is getting freaked out and trying to move around and I am kind of freaked out.  Probably for about 30 minutes it rained and we are just completely soaked; I mean just head to toe.  There is sand blowing everywhere and all over our bodies.  It was pandemonium!  Probably the worst storm we have been in so far.  It was crazy because every morning we would wake up and it would be kind of be bright and sunny, but then I would have all these alerts on my phone that said severe storm warning coming.  Literally every night for about three weeks there were these crazy, wild storms.  It was wild; probably some of the most wild times.



When I was in Watkins, this friend of mine named TJ who makes skateboards had sent me one.   He sent me this skateboard to kind of cruise around the cities.  That was really cool, you know.  I believe that was pretty close to my birthday because I remember at the same time I had received...wow was that my birthday?  Was my birthday in Denver?  I think my birthday might have been in Denver.  I can't remember.  Anyways, I had received a gift from my friend.  Wow, how did I get that gift?  Aubrey Roy, how did you get that gift to me?  Anyways, I had received a gift from Aubrey and when I was in Watkins...I must have got it in Watkins.  Crazy!  Anyways, I was able to get my gift and she sent me some cool things. I hung out and had some fun at the truck stop in Watkins.  You know, it was crazy.  Emotionally speaking, I kind of felt like I was in a weird place.  Looking back, I kind of see my mentality was weird.  I wasn't really focused like I wanted to be. I got this skateboard and cruised around and made a little video about this skateboard.  It was pretty awesome; pretty funny.  I really enjoyed it.  I carried it for a while, I really did.  I carried that skateboard for a while.


Thursday, September 4, 2014

Rap 9/1/14

This is another story from the road. This story is a longer then most of mine others but the end is so funny!

  I think we have had a lot of success lately and a lot of awesome things happen.  For me, I like to keep it balanced. Ha! Ok that is a lie I am not a very balanced person. however in an attempt to be balanced I want to also talk about the "fails".  I mean, to talk about things that aren't just the successes of the project or personal successes or personal growth, but also keep in focus all of the things that could be improved.  I would consider myself pretty good a conflict resolution.  I think, for the most part, I am good in stressful situations and I am good at handling difficult people. However, I am blogging about three incidences over the couple of years  where I could have done better.  To me, honestly, I think these stories are funny.  I look back, and I laugh at myself for acting so ridiculously.

I am going to start off with this one particular moment; again, to me it is just funny.  We are going all the way back to Denver  I was walking down 16th Street in the morning.  I was heading out of town, getting ready to just really make my charge towards Kansas City.  Now, up until this point I have had a great time in Denver.  I had an enjoyable time hanging out with Cash and Jackie and people that came out; Lindsey and just really enjoyed my time there.  Another great person I got to hang out with was Ashley.  She was so kind to me, helped me and LeeRoy out; it was amazing.

So, I wake up early and I am heading out of town; walking through downtown Denver on my way out.  As I am walking through the park right before I hit 16th Street, this lady starts following me with her dog.  I keep a eye on  her  mainly because she has her dog, I am always very aware of people who have dogs around us.  I go out of my way to go way around her.  I keep walking and we get towards the end of the park. She started following  me and  keeps following me as I leave the park. I go across the street and head towards 16th Street.  I look back and that  she doesn't have a very pleasant look on her face so I decide to engage her.  I say, "Hey, how ya doin?"  The lady looks at me and says, "What are you doing?"  I tell her my story and her immediate reaction is, "That is not something that a goat is capable of."  I say, "Okay, well we have walked all the way here from Seattle and he has been doing great."  She keeps asking me questions and is really giving me the 3rd degree about the goat and I keep reassuring her that I take very good care of him.  I make sure he is healthy; watch his hooves.  I try to help her understand that I go to great lengths to take care of LeeRoy.   She doesn't seem to be listening to me.  I can see this girl is going to give me trouble.  She finally says to me, "I work for PETA." And I reply, "Figures."  She says, "I am really concerned about your goat."  I tell her, "Well, feel free to call animal control or anybody else that you need to call, but I am going to head on down the road here."

That was the beginning of my morning. It only got worse.  I kept on walking on 16th Street through Denver.  Now, as I am walking down 16th Street, about five blocks  I was surrounded by four motorcycle cops.  No joke!  The first thing they said to me was, "Hey man you were told not to bring your llama down here."  I said, "I am sorry, I don't have a llama."  The guy says, "Listen, you have been told multiple times this is not okay.  You need to leave."  I said to him, "Well I think you have me confused because for number one, this isn't a llama and number two, I am not from here.  I have never been talked to by the cops whatsoever."  He takes my ID.  We are going through the same Ol questions; "What are you doing, blah, blah, blah."  Finally, he gives my ID  back, I give him a card.  He tells me, "You can't walk on 16th Street.  You need to go over to 15th Street."  Then he tells me a  story about a guy who two weeks earlier had been downtown Denver with two llamas and the llamas got away and caused an accident and all this chaos and no one could catch these llamas.  So, since then, they are real strict on having farm animals downtown Denver.  I  laughed.  I said, "He isn't necessarily a farm animal.  He is more of a pack animal or service animal, but I understand and I will make sure to get onto 15th Street and will start walking there."  We end up taking a bunch of pictures together and then I make my way over to 15th Street.

Now, I get towards the edge of 15th Street. There is a 7-11 and I want to get myself something to drink.  I tie LeeRoy to a flag pole out front  go in, get myself a drink, I come out and there are people all around.  As I am talking and tell my story to everyone this lady comes out of nowhere in a full head to toe peach pant suit.  She is a shorter woman, she is probably in her late 30's, early 40's. Again, she is in a full-on peach pant suit with white high heels.  She has white pearls on.  She is yelling! walking up to me  screaming about llamas.  She says, "You were told by the police not to bring your llamas down here!"  I said, "Listen ma'am, I am so sorry.  I think you have me confused with someone else.  This isn't a llama and I was just talking to the police."  She answers back, "You have to get out of here right now.  It is not appropriate for you to bring you llama down here."  I said, "Ma'am, first of all, this isn't a llama, this is a goat and I just talked to the police."  She answers again, "You need to leave right now!  Get your llama and get out of here!"  I said, "Ma'am, THIS IS NOT A LLAMA!  I just talked to the police.  Look, give them a call.  I just talked with them a minute ago on 16th Street."  She replies, "You can't keep bringing your animals down here!"  I reply, "Ma'am, that's not me; I am not that guy!  I am trying to walk across America with a goat."  This whole time, she is yelling at me and then she gets other people to start yelling at me.  She starts yelling at the guy that worked at 7-11.  Now, I know that it is kind of a stereotype to say that 7-11's have middle eastern people workng for them. But this guys was actually from the there.  She yells at the 7-11 guy who is standing at the door and says, "He is not supposed to be down here with his llama."  So he yells at me in this middle eastern accent, "You need to get you llama out of here!"  First of all, when he yelled it, somehow I automatically thought of The Simpson's.  I totally laughed!  Now, he is yelling at me, this lady is yelling at me; I can't even understand what everybody is saying, but they are all basically yelling at me to leave.  So, I start yelling back at this lady.  I say, "LADY, IT'S NOT A LLAMA!"  I yell at her pretty loud and I am getting stressed out!  I am throwing my hands up, they are throwing their hands up and everybody is yelling.  I tell her, "I am trying to leave!  You are in my way!  I have been trying to get out of here.  You are in my way.  I am trying to leave!  It's not a llama!"  I finally just start yelling at everybody, "IT'S NOT A LLAMA, IT'S A GOAT!  IT'S NOT A LLAMA!"  Then out of no where the lady stops yelling and pull out a cell phone to take a picture... I yell "REALLY. YOUR GOING TO TAKE A PICTURE"....  so I posed and smiled with  my thumbs up... Finally, I just start walking away.  I walk around everybody  as they keep yelling random stuff. As I walk away I yell back at the lady "MAKE SURE YOU POST THAT ON YOUR FACEBOOK. NEEDLE2SQUARE!!!". Now, side note--this is one of the  stories  I was going to start out telling.

Anyways I keep walking.  I get about four blocks down the road  and some more cops show up.  They pull up next to me and say, "Hey man, you are not allowed to bring your llama downtown."  I literally laughed out loud!  I am like, "What are you talking about?  This is a goat, sir.  It is not a llama.  I am leaving town.  I have already been talked to."  Again, I keep walking and now I get probably a good  2 or 3 miles outside of downtown Denver on Colfax. Then, another police officer comes and pulls me over.  I hand him a card and he says he has actually heard about me.  He says, "I love what you are doing and I want to tell you something."  He says, "Listen, I am supposed to hold you until animal control gets here, but I am going to let you go because I love what you are doing."  He warns me, "They are coming to ticket you and take the goat.  I am just letting you know."  He continues, "if you can stay away from animal control, you will be okay."  I shake the man's hand, I am very grateful to the police officer and I keep walking.  Colfax is a main, busy road, so I get off and I am walking through alleys.  Usually animal control either has a van or mostly a truck with this thing on the back that has compartments where they can put the animals.  I usually know what animal control looks like.  I am walking down alleys and every time I see a truck or a van, I instantly try and hide behind a dumpster or some trashcans, or buildings so I won't be seen.  So now I am basically running from animal control as I leave downtown Denver.

As I cross into Aurora,  little kids start following me on their bikes.  I  tell them, "Please get away. I don't want to attract any attention right now."   This one little kid keeps following me and every time a car would drive by and stop, the little kid would go over to the car and listen to them call the police.  Then he would ride up to me and say, "Hey, that guy is calling the police."

Eventually, we get to a strip mall just on the edge of downtown Aurora.  Behind this building is just a bunch of people. I know that I can't go much further without resting, but I also need to hide out.  Okay, number 1, this is the God's honest truth.  This is how it goes down.   I walk up behind this building  that has a bunch of people outside smoking.  Now, first of all, I have never heard the "F" word so much in my entire life!  I can't tell if they are mad or freaked out or what; it is just a weird situation.  I roll up to this group of black guys and they are all just talking to me.  I tell them, "Hey, I know this sounds weird, but I am kind of running from the cops right now.  Is there any chance we could go inside and hang out?"  It turns out, this is a recording studio!  We hide inside for the rest of the day.  They take me  into this rap studio.  I mean, this is full on, full scale rap studio status; like hard core rap.  Everybody has a rap name.  The guy who runs it is the Hoodfather.  He is everything that you think the Hoodfather would look like.  He is big and if you can just picture it in your mind; that is probably as close to the reality of what you think the Hoodfather would look like.  Ha-Ha-Ha!!!  Oh man, looking back; such good times!!!  Anyways, I honestly was intimidated. We  are hanging out, LeeRoy is in the studio in the stairwell area.  It's this little entryway.  He is sitting down drinking water; you know he is just chillin.  Everybody is freaking out because the goat is in the studio.  So, while I am there I tell them I want to do a rap song.  We go downstairs into the studios and everybody is rapping so hard; crazy stuff.  It is everything you picture.  It's so stereotypical, it's like a movie! I walking into a movie!  Literally, there are couches and microphones and control rooms where the people who do the recording are at.  There are brown paper bags of liquor  literally; they are drinking and smoking weed and rapping; like freestyle rapping.  You can't imagine how it felt.  I am in a studio with freestyle rappers and there is the goat and it just so surreal, I can't even explain my life.  This is a movie moment!

So, here is the thing.  Just a side note in the middle of the story.  Being a musician for as long as I have, I really invested a lot of time into music.   I played the guitar, bass, a couple other things, but I am not very good.  I will just say that.  I got pretty lucky in music; not because I was good but because I was just in the right place at the right time.  Anyways, I have a real love affair with music in general so one of the things I do is I find instrumental beats with no words and while I walk, I have been trying to learn how to freestyle rap.  Number 1, picture for a moment, a dirt road, a guy with a goat, I am wearing headphones just rapping about my life with the goat.  It's in the middle of a corn field, in the middle of nowhere.  I think about that thought.  Like if somebody was behind me watching this moment, how hilarious that would be!  Some white kid walking with a goat, freestyle rapping...HA! HA! HA! Oh, it's hilarious.

I had been practicing my freestyle rap.  Truth be told, I am horrible at it!  I might be able to put a couple of lines together that are kind of hot, but you get past that and it just gets really lame.  We are in the basement back room in this rap studio and everybody is just freestyle rapping.  They are all freestyle rapping. They pass the mic to me. So I go for it and start freestyling. I literally get two lines out and I try and pass the mic and they are laughing hysterically because it it is incredibly whack; it is incredibly lame!  One of the kids there  challenges me to a rap battle.  Basically a rap battle is you make fun of the other person and try to burn them and make them feel stupid through rhymes. First of all, I am not that negative of a guy so when I freestyle rap, I keep it positive.  I don't cuss and I try and basically make other people feel good I guess.    So this guy, man I wish I would have video-taped this.  I don't know what I was thinking.  So this guy comes up to me and says, "Alright, let's go, freestyle battle."  I say, "Yeah, alright, let's battle." Actually I am really uncomfortable doing the rap battle and I am not excited. They asked me, "Do you want a beat or do you just want to freestyle?"  I tell them, "You know, I feel comfortable with a beat."  The beat starts going. I think to myself, "If I don't go first and he just tears it up, I am going to feel super stupid." I tell them I will go first.  So, the beat is going and I am just bobbing my head, everybody is silent, and I just keep saying,

"Yeah, ok, here we go.
Alright, yeah. Uh-huh, okay.
Wait just a second, I am almost ready. Yeah, uh-huh, okay, word.
 Alright, I am gonna go in, here we go."

Then, I don't exactly remember what I said, but it was something like,

"My name is Steve and I walk with a goat.
I'm trying to do some cool things, bring some hope.
 And you're real cool, I like you shoes.
Please don't beat me up because I am white in the hood..."

 or something.  That was it, I couldn't get further than that and everybody just starts laughing hysterically.  I start laughing; I am totally embarrassed.  Then this guy goes. He calms everybody down and starts his freestlye.  He is legitimately making fun of me  just going so hard at me.  It was one of those things where you know you are getting made fun of, but it is so funny that you laugh.   I was laughing at maybe some of the meanest, first of all, most  racist stuff I have heard said towards me, but somehow it was funny in that moment.  Somehow that made me a part of the group.  We were all just laughing and had some fun.   One thing led to another and I told them, "Listen, I want to put a rap down."  I had this beat and they loaded it up and I just went into the studio booth and wrote this song.  We spent like five hours on it.  I think its  pretty funny; I like it.  At the end of the night, it is getting dark and I ended up getting a ride to a host family and that was the end of that day.

What is the point of this story?  My point of the story was going to be talking about how I could handle conflicts better, but instead I just ended up telling you about my last day in Denver.  So, anyways, yeah; good times!

this video is about me in the studio...




Sunday, August 31, 2014

On my knees

Something that I try to do, but haven't been so successful at in the past; but something that I am really trying to do this year is trying to invest a lot more in prayer.  I would like to say I am good at praying and I pray often, but I'm not.  I'm weak; my mind scatters quickly.  However, on the way into Boonville, I felt I wanted to pray for the city in general. Here's a fact about Uzima Outreach. It started in prayer.  In fact, my best friend ST and I just had a talk about this.

He said to me, "Uzima started with a few of us on our knees in prayer before the Lord. We are getting back to that and I can't tell you all the crazy things the Lord has been doing because of it."


To be honest, Needle2Square didn't exactly start like that. But that is how it will end. With me and all the staff of N2S on their knees.  With that said, I have really invested into praying just before I get to a city.  Specifically praying for the city and the people and for opportunities to share.  I honestly have seen a difference .  Now, I never really know what to expect so I try and be ready for anything; whatever is going to come my way.  While in Boonville, I had an opportunity to stay at this host family's home.  They have tons of goats.  It's a beautiful farm.  They fed me.  They were amazing and kind and generous and fun and happy.  Towards the end of one of the nights, I got to talk with one of their daughters. She is about 20; she is going to school--super smart, very creative, very artistic.  I mean she can draw just about anything.  She is a really happy person.  Her room is filled with hundreds and hundreds of books, any kind of book series; all the popular ones...books everywhere.  She also has over 500 movies, and she has watched all of them.  We were talking, and what I love about my project is the "why" question.  Because I get to explain and bring my faith into the project.  You can't talk about my project, you can't talk about Uzima, you can't talk about Needle2Square really without getting to this point where people want to know the underlying, What is all this about?"  I always get to come back to my faith and, of course, that always brings more questions and we get to go into deeper issues. There are always questions that people have about the Gospel.  It has forced me to have a deeper knowledge about it.  If I don't, people are quick to dismiss what I say.  And then, it's my turn to do some questioning and ask them some questions.

One night we were up late talking; talking about the Lord, sharing my faith.  What I hear so often is people want to be happy.  But I propose this, you can't have happiness without purpose.  You can't just live a cushy comfortable life and be happy.  That's not the source of happiness.  You need to have purpose.  Purpose, identity is what gives you happiness.  She talked about school and what she is going to do when she grows up but in her answer I could see this deep sense of  not knowing.  I could also see that she was trying to make here family happy. People want her to be a nurse, people want her to do this or that.  And I felt like it was my opportunity to kind of share what I know about purpose.  I explained to her that I lived a pretty good life for the most part.  Playing music and touring.  It wasn't without its tragedies, however, it was pretty good.  I explained my relationship with God and  about faith.  We talked about the Gospel.  She used to be Catholic and she finally broke down at one point and said she was angry at God.  She talked about wanting to commit suicide.  She had attempted it five times.  She talked about seeing people be hypocrites in the church.  And that is something that I always get, this hypocrite kind of comment.  "There are so many hypocrites in the church."  And I always think, "Was your faith based on other people or based on your personal relationship with the Lord?  Is it based on what the pastor tells you or do you have a personal relationship with the Lord?"  Because if it's based on what other people do, like your pastor, or your friends, I am convinced that the weeds of life will choke out the seeds that were planted in your heart. In fact, that is low-hanging fruit for the Enemy.  He sees that and thinks, "Their faith won't last"! Are the roots of your faith planted deep enough?  For me... it doesn't matter what everybody else does.  There is a song that I remember back from the late 1990's, early 2000's within the church community, and there is this line that says, "Though 10,000 fall by my side I will still stand, for You are my God." So here's my question to you.  If your pastor falls, do you fall?  Are you following God or a man?"  People always say, "The church hurt me."  Okay, but did God purposefully try and hurt you?  Is this God trying to hurt you or did a fallible, sinful man or group of people hurt you?

I had this girlfriend once who had a sister and the sister and I never got along.  In fact, the whole family didn't like me.  But does that mean I am mad at her (my girlfriend) and I take it out on my girlfriend if the family doesn't like me?  Does that mean since they don't like me I don't like her?  My point is this, I wasn't in love with her dad, I was in love with her.  I wasn't in love with her sister, I was in love with her.  Are you in love with the people of the church or the programs at the church?  Are you in love with the pastor or... ARE YOU IN LOVE WITH GOD?  That's the reality.  That's the question.  Long story short, that night we debated a lot of different things and in the end we got out her Bible that had never been opened.  Brand new.  Beautiful.  I put a marker in Psalm 103 and I handed her the Bible.  I said, "Listen, the enemy is going to come for you now.  He is going to try and steal the Truth that has been spoken into you tonight.  The enemy and sin will keep you from this Book and this Book will keep you from the enemy and sin."  I told her, "This is the Lord's love letter to you. This is His love letter."  And I watched her grab it and there was that moment where she held it tightly and I prayed right then, "Lord, please don't let the enemy steal this moment.  Don't let him come for her heart."  She told me, "I don't want to wake up in the morning and not feel this way. I don't want to wake up; I don't want to lose this."  And I just pointed her to God and that Book, the Bible.  Lord, please keep her safe.  Protect her heart and mind from the enemy.

Circle of Death

The next day I met up with this woman.  Her mom had met me probably about two months earlier in Steamboat or maybe a month earlier in Steamboat Springs and I will never forget it.  Her mom and her sister were driving a big white dodge and they pull up right in front of me and they step out and they hand me a very large sum of, well not a very large, but they handed me a big donation.  They said hey, I am going to tell my daughter about you when you get to Denver.  So when I got to Denver, she had already looked me up and we had met at this place downtown.  It was great.  We just sat, talked, shared stories; it was epic.  I have a lot of fun talking to people.  As we are walking it is starting to get dark we are going to go down town.  I was supposed to meet Cash at this event called the Circle of Death. The Circle of Death is a bike ride and everybody meets at the end of this bike ride at this park downtown Denver and I guess they just ride around in a circle.  Well, I ended up going to this Circle of Death and it was awesome.  But on my way there, we were walking up 16th street during the nighttime.  So, I was walking up 16th street and 16th street is the place where all the happening things are; bars, people hanging out, everybody having fun.  We walk right up 16th street.  She is with me, people are taking pictures and a guy on a pedicab pulls up next to me and he says, "Hey, I remember you.  We met in Steamboat Springs."  There is a common theme to these stories.  I met a lot of people in Steamboat Springs.  He says, "Hey, I met you in Steamboat Springs, I would like to give you a free ride up 16th street."  Of course I say, "Yeah!"  Now if you don't know what a pedicab is, it is a bicycle that has one front wheel and two back wheels and across those two back wheels is a bench that you sit on and has a place to put your feet.  Well, the first question is, how do you get a goat onto a pedicab?  What we did was, my friend and I sat on the bench and LeeRoy stood where your feet go on the pedicab and this guy rode us up 16th street towards the Circle of Death.  It was HILARIOUS.  Everybody was coming out, losing their minds that this guy was giving a ride to me and my goat.  People were taking picture after picture, we were surrounded by people.  Any time we had to stop, people would run out and take our picture.  They would get in the way of pedicab so he couldn't go anywhere and take pictures.  It was HILARIOUS.  It was so much fun.  We had a blast.  I can't tell you how much of a thrill it was.






 We get done, we get off, I shake his hand and say "Hey man,thanks."  He says, "No, thank you for what you are doing man."  I get that a lot.  "Thank you for what you are doing."  I don't know how to take that, but I take is as a compliment I guess.  "Thank you for what you are doing."  It was cool.  We kept on walking.  Eventually we get to the Circle of Death.  It's kinda weird.  It looks like kind of an old, almost like an outdoor amphitheater kind of thing.  It is a circle that is sunk into the ground.  There is a way that you come in and then there are steps, big steps that you sit on.   So it is about five rows high and you sit on these steps and in the middle is a circle.  At one end of the circle is a stage where people hang out and talk and stuff.  So we had gotten there before most of the fun happened.  At the other end of the entrance of the circle, there is this big long concrete path and it has all kinds of vendors.  It is about 11:30 now and all the bikes start showing up.   There are probably like 200 bikes and they start riding around in this circle and then there is music playing, a rapper shows up, and everybody starts getting off their bikes and start dancing and it fills up quickly.  It was epic and you can imagine that a guy with a goat at an event like this is a BIG HIT.  It was a hit.  People were coming from everywhere.  I made a bunch of new friends.  People who still to this day send me care packages.  It was such an awesome time.  Eventually I met Jackie and Cash there and I stayed with Cash another night and he drove me out to his place.  It was great.  The very next day I saw the opportunity.  Cash was leaving for the weekend so I couldn't stay at his house anymore so I made plans in my head...well to be continued...

BACK IN DENVER.

I wrote this blog just before starting back up this year...

I am a cigar smoker, it's true.  You know out here in Kansas, there is a high cost for cigar smoking because it is cold...cold and windy.  I don't think I am going to enjoy  this cigar right now.  I want to, but it is just too cold.  So now I am just going to sit inside and I am just going to hold this cigar.  I know people judge cigar smokers and I don't understand how smoking cigarettes became the cool thing to do and cigars were looked down upon.  If you go into a place that has smoking and you pull out a cigar, the reaction is, "Oh, how dare you."  But cigars are so classy, so much more classy.   Cigarettes are kind of, I don't know, ghetto.  I don't know.  Anyways, I am a cigar smoker.  I think it is because it takes time, depending on the size of the cigar. With the fatter ones you gotta take your time with it.  To get all the good flavors out of it. You can't just smoke it fast like a cigarette.  For a cigar that is fairly large, fairly thick, you take one puff every minute, so a big cigar takes a long time.  It takes patience to get a good flavor.  It is not a habit.  Cigarettes are a habit.  Smoking a cigar is a hobby.  Smoking a cigar is like, "Okay we just finished this big project, let's settle in, let's think about it, do some thinking."  It is like emotional yoga.

 Anyways, I am cigar guy.  I don't smoke them often; maybe 15 a year. There is something about it. I feel sophisticated.  I know that sounds stupid to people that don't smoke cigars, but I do.  I like to sit somewhere outside, maybe in a quiet place and just puff on a stogie. I wanted to do that right now.  I wanted to go sit out on the porch.  I'm here in Kansas.  Here in a small, small town outside of Topeka, KS called Silver Lake.  I am in a big, old blue house right on the edge of a big corn field.  Tractors are in the background, a tree every now and again.  A small town, peaceful, kinda quiet area.   Not the life I have normally lived.  I wanted to sit on the porch, smoke a stogie and have some coffee and tell stories about the road, but instead I am trapped inside, drinking coffee because it is so cold and windy outside.  It just chills you to the bone.  The wind that just bites at your nose.  It is only a month away until I start walking and I am starting to worry because I don't want to walk in this business!  On with the story...as I have been enjoying my time out here in Kansas, letting my trip to Africa settle into my mind; lots of big changes have gone on with the organization.  I have been really excited and I have taken some time to reflect.  And when you reflect, there is no better way to do it than with a cigar.  Ok, I'll stop talking about cigars..... CIGARS.... so I will reflect cigarless.

I am going to take this story all the way back to Denver which to me was a small victory.  You know the last major city I was in before Denver was Salt Lake and it didn't go so well; I had made some poor decisions, but I was determined to have Denver be different.   I set my mind ready to make some better choices.  I was prepared.  I didn't want to go through those same mistakes again.  So, I walked into Denver boldly, excited; walking down Colfax street.  It's one of the major streets there.  It is the kind of street where you can see the social economic situation of that particular area.  When you first come in, it's really nice, then it drastically drops off into more low income and then you go into the downtown area and things start to pick up.  Then you hit Aurora and it gets pretty bad.  Just on the outside of Aurora, it gets really nice again.

Anyways, I ended up spending over two weeks there in Denver and it was an epic adventure.  It was so fun.  It was the best.  It redeemed the big cities for me.  It redeemed the time.  I had plans for later on in the week to meet up with some friends and go to a baseball game, but for right now, I was really just hoping for a place to stay.  I met a guy named Bud back in Steam Boat springs. His parents live in Denver.  I ended up staying  at his parent's house for a few days..  LeeRoy stayed in the back yard and ate up all their bushes.  What's so interesting is I went out with some friends that I had met in Steamboat Springs.  We hung around, they showed me the city, spent some time downtown Denver.  It was alright, nothing special.  At some point we ended up and at these two guys' house.  Ha-ha. I have never been into drugs.  Not that I'm above it in some way; I just never got into it.  I don't know why. I guess that D.A.R.E class in the 5th grade worked.  Anyways, we walk into the apartment. it was a house apartment ... you know the type .. a big old house that had been divided into apartments.  It was a total frat house vibe it smelled like old stale beer, cigarettes and weed.  There were dirty dishes piled in the sink, clothes and random stuff everywhere; old speakers... bongs and pipes everywhere.  Now, when I walk into these kind situations I'm not scared or freaked out.  I just kind of drop my shoulders and hang my head and take a big breath; because these are more annoying than anything...


The next day I picked up LeeRoy and headed back downtown; started walking into town.  On Colfax there is a 7-11 west of downtown and I walk to the edge of that 7-11.  It's hot! I am going to get myself a soda.  While I am out front tying LeeRoy up this guy pops out of nowhere and starts freaking out.  He is stuttering, "Hey, you're the guy! Oh my gosh, it's you!  You're that guy! You're famous!"  He scared me, he startled me. He is yelling.  He is talking fast.  He has his hands directly up in the air staring at me, eyes wide, super excited.  I looked back at him, a little panicked.  I see black slacks, a 7-11 employee shirt, a name tag and a really shabby goatee.  He might have been 24, but he was looking at me like I was Denzel Washington.  He was just like, "Hey I love what you are doing."  He knew my story, he loved what I was doing.  He had seen pictures of me.  He was so excited.  He wanted to meet me...he wanted to meet me.  He wanted to see me.  He goes inside because he has a customer.  He is the only one working and I follow him.  I grab myself a monster energy drink and head to the counter.  He is still losing his mind.  He can barely focus, he can barely talk.  He says to everybody that comes in, "This guy is famous!  You're famous on Facebook!"  Which I don't know how to take that statement... I'm famous on Facebook?  But he is yelling, "This guy's famous!  Take his picture!"  I am starting to get embarrassed.  I am feeling shy; uncomfortable even.  "This guy's famous!"  We take pictures.  It's great.  I tell everybody the story, collect about $5 in donations and I keep walking.


The sun is hot and I am headed to REI.  REI is kinda like Dick's Sporting Goods, except cooler.  It's a place you go to get recreational equipment and so I headed down there.  Now, the way I am taking, I have to get across the freeway. So as I am coming from the west side, I come over the freeway and right on the right side of the road is an aquarium. The left side has a Mexican restaurant, then there is an abandoned field.  You keep going and there is a bridge in the background, and on the other side of that bridge, on the other side of that overpass is a Starbucks and REI together!  It's like Heaven!  So I walked down there and I sat outside the Starbucks.  I used the internet.  See I had made a plan.  I thought to myself, "There is no way I am going to be able to walk all the way  through downtown, so what I am going to do is try to sleep in this field next to the aquarium, right by the overpass."  Now I am literally maybe eight blocks from the very center of downtown Denver and it's one of those things where you gotta make bold moves.  So my plan was, this is where I will camp tonight.  I went into REI, I had to get a couple of things and then I spent the rest of the day sitting down in Starbucks, chilling, telling stories, meeting people, talking, using the internet; getting ready.  Then, I met a guy named Cash.  Cash is a really awesome dude.  We got to talk a lot.  He eventually invited me to his house that night.  His cousin was a barista at Starbucks so we talked with her for a while too.  We all became pretty close, you know, friends.  You know, just a side note, I say friends, but what I really mean is acquaintances, I think.  I would say I only have maybe three or four  friends, but I have a lot of people that I know that I am acquaintances with.  We are, I don't know, what's between acquaintance and friend?  What is that word? That's what we are. We are not quite friends, but every time I see them, it's like, "Cool, hey it's good to see you, let's catch up."  But, as far as a friend-friend, like ST friend, you know, Noah friend, no they are not like that.  They're not on that level.  So, whatever that word is, that's what I would apply to them.  Not an acquaintance; more than an acquaintance.  We debate theology and we talked about all this stuff.  Long story short, I end up staying at his house.  That night, I drove LeeRoy back to his house.  It was great.  He actually lived right by that 7-11.  We got to his house and it was small, in a quaint little neighborhood.  Not small, it was in a quaint little neighborhood.  They had just moved in, him and his wife.  Really sweet couple, both of them.  I think she was a dental assistant.  We just kinda hit it off.  Cash was a really good guy.  In the back yard, as we are tying up the goat and starting to get kinda more personal with our conversation, I tell them my story.  I tell them my stuff.  And his cousin is sitting there and she is about 19 or 20.  She is listening to all of this.  As I talk about my difficulty with women and how I have been not the best at relationships Cash goes inside to grab a bowl for LeeRoy and she looks at me and I saw the moment, I saw it.  She says to me, "we have a similar story."  And you know that moment in the movies when somebody is about to tell you something really important, but they don't because somebody interrupts them.  It was that moment.  She had something that she wanted to say.  She had something that she wanted to tell me, but we were interrupted.  I take mental note of those moments because I know that is an opportunity; that is an opportunity to share.  We kept going through the night, talking, having fun, hanging out.  I woke up, hung out at Starbucks.  She ended up coming with me the next day and we walked through downtown Denver together.  She walked me through the area.  TO BE CONTINUED??? Actually, that is not what happened.  The next day, I mostly hung out at Starbucks, just resting.  I was meeting with some people...hold on, we are going to put a to be continued on this a start a new story.... haha ... ADD IN EFFECT

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Norman and a Horse 5/13/2014



STORIES FROM THE ROAD....


 I had people come out and visit me from Higginsville. People were bringing out donations and it kept seeming like people from towns I had passed through were coming out to find me.  And that was really encouraging.  I enjoy that.  I enjoy talking with them and sharing the stories.  Saturday I moved on, kept walking. We got caught in wild storms Saturday. I'm looking down the road and literally right off the freeway, maybe 30 yards away lightning strikes and both LeeRoy and I freak.  We panic!  It was shocking.  I had never been that close to lightning!  I was getting text messages and phone calls that there is a storm coming, there is a storm coming, find shelter. We were racing against the clock in my mind.  I am trying to find a shelter.  And there is nothing out there.  I am walking on I-70.  My plan was if worse came to worse, I would flag down a car and maybe they could take us somewhere safe.  But I didn't find any shelter.  So it seemed like the storm was passing just north of me.  So, I thought, maybe I would just catch the edge.  To my right was clear skies.  To my left a wild storm.  I found out the next day there were actually a tornado up there.  A couple towns got hit with a tornado.  Kinda freaky!  You definitely feel helpless, but I decided when I was in that moment, I am going to put up my tent and just ride out the storm; not understanding how serious it could get.  I don't know, maybe I am just naive to this stuff I guess.  Anyways, we set up our tent and I could hear, right before I get in my tent, about 50 yards away lightning flashes then thunder hits.  Four lightning flashes in one area and a fire starts.  And I just felt so insignificant in that moment.  Like, my life is fragile.  It could be taken in an instant. It's wild.  We didn't get any rain.  LeeRoy and I just camped about 20 feet off the side of the freeway in some bushes. The second my tent was up, I instantly fell asleep.  Like I had no problem with the semis loudly racing by.  I instantly just crashed.  In fact, it's one of those things where I went to take off my shoes, but I didn't get it all the way off and I still had the water spout for my Camel Bak in my mouth when I woke up.  Just falling asleep mid-drink.  Oh, it's so funny.  I wake up in the morning, my feet hurt a little, but that's ok.  I'm ready.  We push, we walk strong.

 I get a phone call early in the morning and it's sounds like an old lady.  It's Sunday morning and she is like, "Where are you at?"  It's from an unknown number. I just answer, "I'm on the side of the freeway."  She says, "I know, but where?"  I said, "I-70."  She says, "What mile marker?"  I say, "89."  She replies, "Okay, well, do you remember that old man and that old lady at the restaurant last Sunday?"  I said, "Yeah."  Her reply, "They want to come meet you."  She says, "The old man wants to come meet you," talking about Norman.  And I said, "Okay, well, there is a Dairy Queen about two miles up on my map."  I said, "I will meet you there.  We can have lunch."

So we get there and as we walk in people are coming out, taking pictures of the goat.  It is just the same ole, same ole.  I feel like I shouldn't even write these in these blogs anymore because wherever I am at, just know there are people talking to me, taking pictures, ya know, like it's routine now.  Norman and his wife show up and he is a WWII Veteran and he's got plenty of incredible stories. We are just chit chatting.  I am telling them about the road and he's telling me about animals.  He was into horses his whole life.    He rode trick horses.  He trained them.  He rode dressage and Western and three-day eventing.  He told me this great story about his wife and how they met.

So this is the story about Norman's wife.  Norman is this amazing guy. When he was young he was at this horse show.  He saw the most beautiful horse.    "It had  a beautiful gait," is what he says.  And I don't even know what that means; I am assuming it means it walks well.  He is watching this horse, and he is wishing so bad he could have it.  This girl comes up to him while he is watching this horse and she says, "You like that horse?"  And he says, "I sure do."  And she goes, "Well, I got a better horse than that."  He goes, "Is it a Thoroughbred?"  And she says, "Yeah."  He says, "Well, is he broke?"  She says, "Yeah."  He says, "Does he have a gait like that?"  She says, "Yeah."  He says, "Do you ride him?"  She says, "No."  He says, "Well, why?"  She says to him, "Too much horse for me."  And so he replies, "Well, I would like to come and meet this horse."  So they set a date, he goes out, he looks at the horse and it's everything he dreamed of.  It's a beautiful horse.  Perfect gait.  Beautiful; everything that he has wanted.  He desperately wants this horse.  He says to her, "Will you sell it to me?"  She says, "No, it's not for sale."  And he said he knew right then that the only way for him to get this horse was to marry the woman.  Ha! Ha! Ha!  So he marries her and right then, we just laughed.  We busted up in the Dairy Queen.  In the middle of us laughing, his wife goes, "Well the joke was on him, that horse didn't like men."  And then he told me all these stories about how difficult it was for him to work with this horse because he just didn't like him.  I love meeting people.  I love hearing their stories.  At the end of our lunch, he gets up and I just catch a moment of him and his wife together.  He hands her the last bit of his Coke so she can drink it.  She gets him a walker and together, they take care of each other as he scooted his walker with just a grin from ear to ear.  And I thought to myself, that's it.  That's what I want.  It's a beautiful thing; love.  And they have had it.  Something like 70 years together! Thats what I want.

Text message

Awhile back I received a message from a friend and it was so touching ... 

Friend: I just want you to know, I had the shittiest day today, lots of "I can't do anything right and I'm an Asshole in everyone's eyes" , and as I was dwelling on everything, I read some of your blogs and they made me feel better. So thank you for writing them.


Me :Thank you that makes me happy.

Friend: It was one of those days where you look at your life and wonder how you got where you are.... thank you!
                              
Me: I'm there sometimes on a daily basis.

                         
Friend :Me too, but yesterday was bad. I went through a super suicidal time in July. Yesterday was a close second. And, your the only one that understands that, that is why I turned to your writings to get my mind somewhere else


this is so HUMBLING...


Thursday, June 12, 2014

Kyle


I am in Boonville, MO.  It's about 2:16 and the date is May 13, 2014.  I'm at a host home. Today I am taking the day off.  I've been  put down a lot of miles and it has been really awesome.  One thing that you really have to watch when you put down a lot of miles with a goat is you gotta make sure you watch his hooves; make sure they wear evenly and right now LeeRoy is looking like a champ.  He is walking faster.  In fact, I would say this is the fastest start we have had.  The first two years we did this were pretty slow starts.  I think we have gotten almost, well shoot, I think we got about 100 miles down, I don't know, maybe more.

A couple quick little stories.  When I walked into Blue Spring, I stopped at a restaurant called Hot Pot Cafe. In there I met a bunch of amazing people, but one couple in particular, Norman was his name and I can't remember the wife's name, Sarah is her name...  but they had me sit at their table and talk with them and we kept on being interrupted the whole time. I didn't really get to learn much about them.  They asked me a bunch of questions and again I was being interrupted so much that we really didn't get a good conversation going.  However, we did connect a little bit.  So, I left Blue Springs and I kept trucking and meeting people and it was awesome.  Also, when I was in Blue Springs a couple, Kaci and Kyle, passed me and they wanted to talk to me.  But we never got a chance to meet up. they found me on Facebook and we started messaging.  We became  Fast friends, Kyle and I and Kaci. Side note.  There are so many people that I have already met that I want to talk about.  Everybody has a unique story.  Everybody has a unique story that I want to share.  And, I am not that good of a writer, nor do I have the patience to sit down and chronicle every single amazing story that happens.

I left Blue Springs, I made it to Bates City.  I was in Bates City, slept behind a dumpster at a gas station.  I kept walking; made it to Concordia.  I took a day off in Concordia.  I was having knee and hip pain and it was because I didn't have the right shoes and so that really affects me in a huge way.  Especially with the weight of my backpack and my body mechanics are already  horrible.  I look like Quasimoto walking.  I get a real good waddle going back and forth.  My right foot points out and I kind of get this weird peg leg looking kind of walk going.  Especially towards the end of the day. One of my things that I forgot about is that at the end of the day after your body starts to cool down and you sit down. When you finally have to get back up to go to the bathroom or you have to get up to get something; I stand up and I feel all of the miles all at once.  My feet are swollen and they hurt and yeah, it's just not comfortable.

So anyways, last Wednesday, Kyle came out and we had BBQ.  We sat together and talked and debated different Christian books out there and a little bit of theology.  We talked about his family and his wife, Kaci. It's interesting how quickly you can become friends.  How quickly you can connect with people and get to know them.  So then we made a plan for him to come out Friday.  He came out and we walked that whole day together and it was amazing.  You know, it was good to have company on the road; we chit chatted and he got to experience the eight or nine miles of a walk on that Friday.  People wanted to get a picture with me and him while we were eating.  This often happens, while I am eating people will come up to my table and say, "Hey I want to get a picture of you."  So, I'll be in the middle of a bite and I'm looking up at the camera and they take a picture of me.  And then they turned to Kyle. This is his first time having this experience and I could just imagine what he is thinking.  He kinda gets this look on his face like, "Man, this is so awkward.  I am not even a part of the project.  Why are you taking my picture?  Does this happen all the time?"  And yes Kyle, yes my friend, this happens a lot to me!  Ha ha!  You can see the uncomfortableness and I realized how far I have come.  I'm okay with this.  I'm okay with people just coming up to me and taking my picture.  I am used to it now.  I've gotten thicker skin and that's kind of interesting.


Sunday, May 25, 2014

Spiritual hunger 5/5/2014

It is May 5th at 9:35.  I'm about two miles west of Odessa, MO sitting on the side of the freeway in the shade.  It's not a very hot day, which is good.  As I have been reflecting on conversations I've had with people along the way I have started to notice a theme that is emerging.  I don't even know how to explain it yet, but I see a problem. The problem I see is that people care so much about the physical needs of those in need, that they forget about their spiritual needs as well.  They think the answer is to throw money at the problem.  Even this morning as I am walking between Bates City and Odessa, I met a gentleman with a similar hypothesis.  That if we send enough money to all the countries in need, then no one would ever suffer. He literally said. "If Bill Gates and Apple and Starbucks and all these major corporations gave half of their profit or something like that to organizations overseas, then we could solve the world's problems".  The idea that if their physical needs are met, then the world's problems would go away is just completely wrong.  The Bible says that man will not live on bread alone, but by the Word of God (Matthew 4:4).

Matthew 4:4

New International Version (NIV)
Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’


In fact, I'm reminded of a story where there are these two guys and this sick man and they carry him to go see Jesus. Jesus is in this house and it's completely packed out.  They thought, there is no way we are going to be able to get to see him.  So, what they did was they tore the tiles off the roof and they lowered the man in through the roof.  They lowered him down to see Jesus and the first thing Jesus said to him was, "Your sins are forgiven."  (Luke 5:19)

Luke 5:18-20

18 Some men came carrying a paralyzed man on a mat and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus. 19 When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus.
20 When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.”



He deals with the spiritual matter of the heart first and then he heals him; and then he takes care of his physical needs.

Luke 5:22-25


22 Jesus knew what they were thinking and asked, “Why are you thinking these things in your hearts? 23 Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? 24 But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the paralyzed man, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” 25 Immediately he stood up in front of them, took what he had been lying on and went home praising God


  What I think sets Uzima apart from a lot of organizations or a lot of different humanitarian efforts, is that we/they care for the entire child; the entire person.   We take care of their physical and spiritual needs at the same time, but our main focus is on nurturing their spiritual needs.

 I was speaking with a lady at a restaurant called Hot Pot Cafe in Blue Springs, MO.  She was telling me a story about how she was helping out someone by paying their rent and buying groceries.  She said something really insightful, "You know, it seemed like they were always looking for the hand of God, but not the face of God."  That kind of struck me. I have never heard that before. I thought of my own needs. I don't want to be always looking for a hand-out from the Lord instead of a relationship.

 This is my point. I am a firm believer that you need to deal with both the physical and spiritual malnutrition when it comes to helping those in need.  You need to provide for the physical needs, but first and foremost the spiritual needs. An emphasis, I believe, on the spiritual needs.


A final thought. I think that when we just go overseas or we go on a mission trip and we just take care of their physical needs as in, we build them a house, or we give them food, we reduce that person to a one dimensional person.  That they are just matter.  That they are just a culmination of physical desires and needs and it's not based on the total character, the total person; mind, body and spirit.  Uzima, Needle2Square, our total purpose is mind, body, spirit with a HUGE, HUGE, HUGE emphasis on the spiritual aspect of a man.  There is a hunger within a man that is much, much stronger than an appetite for food.  There is an emptiness that food can't help.  There is an emptiness and a hunger that's more than just the stomach, it comes from the spirit.  There is the spiritual hunger that we need to feed.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Dinner Party 5/4/14

It is May 4, about 1:02 p.m. and I am walking.  I think I am in Grain Valley, MO which is east of Kansas City, MO.

I love to tell about the unique things that happen to me on the road.   Here is a funny one!  On my way to my starting point for this year, I had to stop by the bank to take care of some business.  When I got to the bank, I was driving around the parking lot to find a place to park the truck and tie up LeeRoy.   What I did not know was a guy had been following me in his red truck.  I parked and  jumped out to head into the bank. I was greeted by a gentleman in his late 50's named Mike.  He introduced himself to me and immediately started telling me he was having a supper club party and wanted my goat there. The party was going to have a western theme.  He had hired a country band and wanted to get a horse just to come hang out at the party.  He told me it was impossible, no one was just gonna bring a horse to his party. To be honest, to me, inviting a horse to your party seems a little strange, unless that horse is Mr. Ed.  But, whatever, to each his own.  So, to him it was destiny just to see a goat riding around in the back of a truck. He explained to me that the party was on Saturday and he would do anything to get LeeRoy to be a part of his event.  I told him what I was doing and Mike said he would make sure to give me some time to speak.  You know me, I answered not just yeah, but hell yeah!  We made a plan for him to pick me up the next day wherever I was on the trail.

On Saturday, I walked about ten miles and ended up on this back highway called AA. What I find so interesting is sometimes you run in to the most random, I don't want to say the word trashy, but just a dive bar in the middle of nowhere on some old highway.  I was stopped at the Ranch House, however, they spelled it R-A-U-N-C-H House (really).  I sat out front for about 45 minutes while people came out and took pictures.  I handed out cards and even collected a few donations.  When Mike arrived, we loaded up quickly and headed out.   We drove back to his house and on the way, he tells me that he hasn't told his wife about this.  He says it's going to be a surprise to her.   In the back of my mind, I am thinking, "This probably won't be a very fun surprise for her."  I'm sure she is going to be confused. "Why would you want this crazy guy with a goat that you picked up from the side of the road to stay at our house."  So I was nervous to meet Diane, however, she was so gracious.  She is an English teacher that seemed to be well-read (duh).  Mark Twain is her favorite author.  My adventure was right up her alley.  After our introduction, they showed me to my room.  I gotta say it was a lot nicer than sleeping behind a random building the night before.   I jumped in the shower and got ready for the dinner party. While the band was setting up, I started introducing myself to some of the guests.  Before I got there, I was thinking it was going to be about eight or ten people but it ended up being way more.  It was about 60 people and they ranged in age from about 30's to I think one was in his 80's.  Most of them were retired teachers.

We sat down and had a beautiful meal; chicken wrapped with bacon, pork-n-beans; oh it was so delicious.  The whole thing was incredible.  It felt like out of a movie; a big willow tree at the end of a deck; bigger than most.  All the women were drinking wine and the men were drinking beer.  The women all sat together at one table and were talking about the latest grandchild, whose next child was to get married and all the hot family gossip.  I was sitting at the table with all the men and there was a scintillating conversation about one of the older gentleman catching a raccoon in his attic.  "I spent $500 catching that damn thing and the little dickens tore a hole in the roof."  He ended up driving it out to the woods and releasing it to the wild.  As I am sitting at this table with old men mostly in their 60's and 70's I thought to myself, "Is that what I am going to be talking about when I am old; coon catchin'?"

 The band started playing while we were eating and more people started showing up and I'm like, man this is a lot of people.  So I started getting excited while I am waiting for my chance to share.  Me, feeling like an outsider, my thought was charm and disarm; I gotta be funny.  I want to make sure and inform them, but this isn't the place to be explicit with all the gruesome details of the slums.  I want to try and put my A game together.  I should probably have my A game every single time, however, sometimes people just want entertainment.  Anyways,  I start out with some jokes to soften them up.  I entertained them for a bit and then I get into some facts of what I am doing.  I had five minutes that turned into 15 and they loved it.   I got done and I started handing out cards.

THIS IS WHERE IT GETS INTERESTING ... there was this blonde girl in particular who was my age. She really took an interest, or so I thought. Here's the thing.  When a woman comes up to me and she says these words in that kind of really passionate, emotional voice, "Oh I just have such a heart for Africa." I automatically know that she has ulterior motives. I have a term for these kind of women. Gypsy Witches.  What's a Gypsy Witch you might ask... well let me tell you... It's a cross between Yoko Ono and Hillary Clinton.  She will break up your band and try and rule your world.  She will find a way for you to get in trouble.  She will seduce you.  Strip you of all your dignity and take your manhood.  She is a black widow of sorts; or a praying mantis that will EAT YOU.  In the past I used to think that they all dressed a certain way. And yes the most obvious ones do... buuuut there is an even sneakier kind that are really hard to identify.  They have learned how to blend in with those who truly care.   They have copied the genuineness of people that truly care and know how to put on a good show.  I will give you a few tips on how to separate the gypsy witches from the rest.

Tip # 1
Watch out for the ones that say any variation of this. "I was so touched by what you said.  Will you come outside and pray with me?"  Don't ever fall for this one... the goal is to get you away from the herd so they can devour you.

Tip # 2
The look.  Now this is one that is not easy to escape.   The look of adoration can make you feel real good and safe and in control.  But the truth is, you are prey and she is the one in control.  It's much like the Alligator snapping turtles that use their tongue like a fishing lure to seduce their prey right into their mouth... then with one bite, eats them!!!



Ok, back to the story.  The blonde girl.  She says, "You know, I just really would like to hear more about your story."  THEN she says, "I have such a heart for Africa and for orphans."  And yes, these are all classic Gypsy Witch tactics.  Normally I would have seen right through this.  But we weren't in the normal Gypsy Witch environment.  I didn't think much of it.  I said, "Well, yeah I would love to tell you more about the story, but I want to greet everybody else and hand out these cards."  And so about 45 minutes later, I get a chance to talk to her again.  We talked for a few and I honestly thought that maybe I had her pegged wrong.  She asked me if I would ride with her to the grocery store to get something for the party.  ANOTHER classic Gypsy Witch move.   Separate from the herd.  I say, "Yeah, sure, I'll go." I KNOW I KNOW.... you don't even have to say it... I get in her car and she starts driving horribly.  I mean, absolutely horribly; almost hitting the curb, almost running into other cars and I keep grabbing the safety handle on the car thinking, "Oh my goodness,"  I can't tell if maybe she is drunk or just a terrible driver.  She is acting completely normal.  She is talking clearly, she doesn't look like she is intoxicated or anything.  I don't know what's going on.  So, I finally ask her, "Are you okay?  You are kind of driving erratically.  You're kind of freaking me out."  I asked her, "Are you tipsy or drunk or something?"  And she just looks at me and smirks and just says, "I'm fine."   I'm like, oh no, this isn't good.  I'm thinking she probably is a little drunk.

Ok now, here's the deal,  music can take my attention off anything.  From time to time I'll be talking to someone and in the middle of a word or deep important conversation a song will come on and I'll stop mid-sentence... it grips me- I have to focus on it. I just get into a groove, a vibe, sometimes I even dance.

Let me paint you this picture.  I am literally freaking out about this lady's driving when this song I never heard before comes on.  Artist : Disclosure, the song was Latched.  I literally stopped.  I stopped caring about the bad driving.   I start asking, "Who is this?"  We put the song on repeat, turn it all the way up and now I am having the time of my life.  The song is going... I'm deep into it.   All the windows are down.  By the fourth time through the song we are both singing at the top of our lungs and dancing like crazy.  All of a sudden  I snap out of my trance and realize we keep passing store after store so I asked her, "What store are we going to?"  We end up pulling into a neighborhood and into her driveway.   This is the exact thing I am trying to avoid on the project; awkward stuff like this.  I planned on staying in the car, but she wouldn't let up, "Come in, come in, come in."  I did have to go to the bathroom, so I agreed.  We go into her house!  And I'm like, OH NO the Gypsy Witch has me!!!  Oh this is not good.  She filled up a paper bag with something. I assumed it was alcohol; I could hear the bottles clinking together in the bag.  We got back in the car and headed back.  Clearly, whatever she had last drank was hitting her pretty hard and she was having trouble getting back to Mike's house.   She was speeding.  I stopped talking to her and turned up the music trying to escape from the moment.  I thought to myself, "If I am going to die in a car crash, I might as well be rocking out to some good jams on my way to heaven!"   She clearly doesn't know where she is going.  She keeps driving around in circles.  She is going extremely fast and I am telling her please slow down, slow down.  And she just says, "I am just doing that to mess with you."  I say, "Well, it's messing with me."  She pulls into a lane that has cones blocking it off and in front of us is a sign that says NO TURN" that is blocking the road.   I yell, "You can't go this way!  Stop, stop, stop, you can't go this way!"  So she just plows over the sign and knocks it over.  I make her pull over the car immediately. "Hey, hey, hey, pull over, pull over right here, please."  She pulls over the car. I confront her, "Look, can I please drive?"  And she says, "No. I'm good."  I said, "Please let me drive."  She says, "No, no, no. I'm good.  Don't worry about it."  I GPS where his house is and it's only a few blocks away.  I'm like, "Okay, please go slow.  In all seriousness, I am not kidding you, I will get out.  I will get out of this car."  She says, "Oh, don't worry.  I'm good."  We drive the few blocks back to Mike's house.  She is getting so close to parked cars that the mirrors hit, but don't break.  The whole time I am telling her, "Watch out" as I am grabbing the wheel.  We pull into the drive, I get out and I run away from the car.

Now here is the icing on the cake!  In my two years of doing this project, there has been one quintessential line that has defined the worst of the worst when it comes to the Gypsy Witch.  If you say this to me, I know what your intent is and depending on what kind of mood I am in, I probably will make fun of you.  Before the party ends, I am sitting in the back listening to the band play a slow ballad. She sits next to me at the table and she hits me with it,  "Do you ever get lonely on the road?"  I literally laughed out loud; so loud that everybody looked at me and I totally interrupted the mood of the soft song that the band was playing.  

The party ended, she left, I felt good.  Felt good that she was gone.  So, that's my story with that.


The next morning I got up and Mike and Diane had breakfast and coffee.  They took me back to where they picked me up.  He was such a gracious host.  I had such a good time.  People had donated to the project from the night before that heard me speak so it was really just a beautiful time; other than that car ride.  There is a silver lining to this crazy car ride.  The song that we jammed out to is at the top of my play list and I literally have listened to it over and over again; it's my new favorite song.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Bench Mark

The benchmark of success is not how many countries we reach.  It truly isn't just how many kids are in our orphanage.  There are organizations that thrive on that.  They thrive on the fame of "look at how many kids we saved".  They thrive on the fame of "look at how many countries we have reached."  That's not us.  The benchmark of success for our organization is how faithful can we be to the call that God has given us.  The benchmark of success for our organization is look what God has done through faithful people.  It is not just how many kids we save or how many kids we have in this home or how many orphanages we have started or how many countries we have reached.  It is about faithfulness to God, faithfulness to the call and that's it.  God didn't say you are going to reach hundreds; God said you are going to help those in need.  God didn't say you are going to go to all these countries; God said you are going to feed the sheep.  The reality is, people want these huge callings in life to show that they have been mightily used for the Lord.  Our benchmark is not so you can think how holy we are or how much God's presence is on us, its not about that.  If God gives us very little ministry, we are going to be faithful to the end of that ministry; nothing is going to stop it.  Nothing is going to stop us.  Obedience and faithfulness is the benchmark for our ministry.  That's what is successful to us. That is what we are going to do.

 I want to quickly answer a question about why a goat and what I know now compared to what I was thinking in the beginning is completely different.  How I would have answered that in the beginning of this project was I was looking for a pack animal and looking for a friend to come along with me, but the reality is I didn't really have a reason.  I just wanted an animal; I wanted to bring an animal and a goat is a sturdy animal; they are self-sufficient, they eat what is along the side of the road.  It was a convenience decision for me.  But what I now know, being two years into this project, is this was God's profound grace and influence in my life that I couldn't even see.  What I now know is that God was setting Needle2Square apart from other ministries.  You know when I first started looking into organizations and raising funds and how to do that, I came across a couple of websites and I came across a couple of YouTube videos that bummed me out. There was this phrase that was being said more often than not and the phrase was "competing for the charity dollar."  Those words, that phrase scared me because that is not what I want to do.  I don't want to compete for the charitable dollar.  I don't want to compete for other people to donate to Needle2Square instead of other organizations.  I don't want them to donate to me and not to another organization.  I am not going to compete.  That is not my heart.  The Lord always knows what He is doing.  My problem was... How do I set myself apart? NOT to compete but to at the very least to be noticed. It was almost feeling like David and Goliath; among the sea of other well-deserving projects.... LeeRoy is all the difference.

 I think it is important to note that I had no idea what I was doing at the beginning of this project.  If I would have known what was to come, I probably, and I know people say this often, I probably wouldn't have done it; I would have done it differently.  The reality is, I was weak.  I was the wrong person for this job if you were to ask anybody with any kind of wisdom.  I was the wrong person to step into this place and try and run an organization.  I have very little administration skills, very little.  I have no college education, really.  I went to school, failed most of my classes.  I went for four years off and on and wasted a lot of my parents' money.  The reality is though, the Lord put me here.  A thought I often question him about.  The one skill that I think the Lord has blessed me with is the ability to articulate a message.

I am not trying to put myself down. I really want to point to Jesus.  So, what I have  been learning is that my weakness is what is setting this apart. If you were to somehow evaluate on a chart, a pie chart "oh he has this much integrity, he is this much smart, he is this much whatever," my pie chart would be 90% dummy and about 10% funny; that's it!  That is all that is on my chart; that's all I got going for me.  But in that is the most beautiful thing I think about this project.  In that mess of a person is where God gets all the glory; and He gets it all.  Only by God's mercy and grace has this organization not fallen thus far. I am not the right guy for this job.  You know when I think about that last statement, that I am not the right guy for the job, I start to think of every other story of success that I know.  Every other story of church planters, missionaries or just anything that I can think; other peoples' stories.  When you hear them talk about their story, some crazy journey, they always start out with the disadvantages.  You never hear a story like "It was always easy. I was just talented  No struggles, no difficulties just smooth sailing."  Every single story of consequence, every story I can think of in my head, of anybody that has done a crazy amount of things for the Lord or has been used mightily in some way, always their stories start out with the disadvantages.  Their stories always start out with what was not right.  "I went to this town, I knew nobody, I had no money, I had no opportunity, I had a stutter when I talked, I don't know the Word very well, I'm not very good at articulating the message, I didn't have a college education, I didn't have the money or resources, I didn't have the time, I was not good enough. I had no talents."  That is how every story starts out.  So when I think about that right now, I feel like I am in good company.  What I want you to understand is that I hope that is the beginning of your story.  I hope what happens in the beginning stages of whatever the Lord is calling to you always pushes you to the foot of the cross saying "I can't do this, I need your help, please Lord you are going to have to make something happen here."  That is where I am on a daily basis.  "I cannot raise this money by just walking across America with a goat.  I can't make this happen Lord.  You are going to have to do something.  You are going to have to do something only You will get the glory for, that is all about You, has nothing to do with me.  I can't do this Lord."

Friday, May 9, 2014

Dad 5/2/2014

You know, May 2 is the day that my father passed and this walk isn't about him in any way, but it was a way that I could kind of, you know, remember him.  Let's see, it's been 22 years now, I think.  Yeah, 22 years since he has passed and I feel kind of guilty today because I didn't think of him much.  I know that I'm busy and I got a lot going on and all, but I don't know, I guess I just, I miss him.  And I love him, I do.  Maybe this is what it's like, just 22 years later you start to forget.  I don't know.  I've been busy, you know.  And yes, I have whatever, "daddy issues," I keep saying that.  Maybe I shouldn't talk about it anymore, but, I don't know.  The memory definitely isn't as fresh, that's for sure.