2005: Discovering The Importance of Relationship
In 2005 after recently graduating high school I was standing in the back of the church auditorium where at the time I was a music and youth leader. It was during this time of my life that I began to research and learn about immense scope of problems and suffering that is happening in our world with poverty, wars and issues of all kinds. The more I learned and discovered, the more I knew I wanted to devote my life towards seeing people – humanity – set free from all forms of suffering.
Initially, I wanted to understand the problems in our world. I wanted to understand why some of us have so much more than we need while so many more of us lack even life’s necessities of clean water, food and a safe shelter to lay our head at night. I wanted to understand why we as human beings seemed so divided and why with all of the life-giving resources the Good Earth provides so many of us lacked access to the fundamental elements we all need to live.
I packed up my car outside of my apartment in Oklahoma with the few belongings I had and set out to drive eastward across the United States simply to walk the streets, connect with people and listen to their stories to understand how we had arrived at where we are now. I met so many people living on the streets and listened compassionately to their stories of being the outcast of society. I listened to their desire to get a job that seemed impossible given the rough state they were currently living. It was during this time that I began to see a deeper need which is I believe the deepest need each and everyone of us has – Relationship. For many people I would meet I took food or offered to buy them a meal when approached for spare change so they could eat and I coul learn about who they were. I went on this trip across eastern America to meet physical needs, and discovered that what was actually needed was for someone to sit with, talk with, listen and to experience that value and connection with another human being that says “we are all in this together and we are all equally valuable and worthy of respect.”
2010-2011: Discovering The Power & Joy of Walking
In 2010 I went to Seattle with about $100 in my pocket and nothing but freedom and wonder of the unknown in my heart. Everything was completely unplanned and full of possibilities and my eyes were opened to a faith and trust that if one is doing what is truly in their heart to do and living free; things will work out and there is no need to worry. I went to Olympia, Washington, and after several days and now having about $1.50 left, I received a response to an ad I had posted about who I was, where I came from and that I was in need of a place to rest for a few days. Their response invited me to come and stay at their house for a few nights. I entered the doors as was welcomed completely and instantly a deep friendship was created and I felt at home. I was invited to stay and live in this house with several college student and fellows older in age, and in return I was only expected to serve and be myself; contributing to the house in anyway that I could.
Due to a progressive eye-disease my vision is not correctable. Although I continued to drive for years while living in Oklahoma as my vision deteriorated, upon moving to the Pacific NW and discovering how incredible their transportation system functioned; I decided at this time to allow my license for driving to expire and simply get a state ID. My driving days, I believed, were over. I lived exactly 5.5 miles from downtown Olympia and initially would take the bus into town; until one day I decided to see how difficult it would be to walk. That day was profoundly transforming in many ways. I discovered how life moved slowly and how in walking the mind slows down. We can observe so many things happening all around us that most of the time we are moving too fast to see and too fast to see with clarity how much beauty there is around us at all times. Even the sounds of construction work became simply part of the grand chorus of life. So each day, I would walk to downtown, spend time at a coffee shop working from my laptop and attempting to gain website clients, then walk home towards the end of the day. This was my grand routine for an entire year and a time I learned that there is much power in walking, taking things slow and truly witnessing the joyous world and life around us. I learned a new way of living free.
June 2012: Los Angeles to the Oregon Coast and Back Again
I lived in Olympia, Washington for exactly one year when the winds decided to move me back to Oklahoma. In June of 2012 I began to feel that the time was soon coming for another wondrous adventure into the unknown; to walk the streets, connect with people and simply serve and love others in anyway possible. I had thought of different places but one day the thought of Los Angeles most prominently stuck out in my mind. I did a quick check of airline tickets and was surprised that there was one ticket, just 4 days away, for nearly $150 less than all tickets on every other day for the next two months. I thought “well, alright, this seems to be the direction the winds are moving me to go. I will wait, wake up tomorrow, and if that ticket is still available, I’ll be on my way to L.A. in three days.” I awoke the next morning and the ticket was still available, so the choice to go had been made and I bought it. My community in Oklahoma had a grand send-off gathering for me where I felt so much love and encouragement from so many people.
I boarded the airplane and instantly felt a rush of wind or lightness come and reverently felt the most holy of spirits: complete peace and freedom. I arrived in Los Angeles around Midnight, walked out of the airport around 4:30 a.m., felt the wind blowing from the South, which I used as a sign to start walking North and let the wind be at my back as guide. I would spend one week in the City of Angels and every moment was completely full of the wondrous colors of humanity and people and everywhere I would walk there were people to learn about and speak words of love and encouragement. I played guitar on the streets of Venice Beach with groups of homeless people, walked the city late at night with a group of international travelers and each was non-stop interaction with people. After that week I felt it time to continue North and went to Santa Cruz; then San Jose; then San Francisco; then Ukiah; then the coast of Mendocino County where I would begin walking north. I walked the Northern coast of California until finally arriving at that truly golden coast of Oregon. I learned about the Oregon Coast Trail and thought that sounded like what I ought to do.
I continued all through Oregon and over to Portland, then back down I-5 until eventually returning to San Francisco; hiked through Big Sur, back to Los Angeles and back to Oklahoma City – two-plus months of living completely unplanned and present and free with the prevailing drive simply to love and serve with all that I had. It was a most liberating time. But it was also time to return to Oklahoma. I knew that continuously traveling to serve humanity was the deepest call of my heart and how I am geared to spend my life; yet I was not quite ready to encapsulate that dream completely.
Creating Initiatives of Connections
April 2015: Prayer Pilgrim and Walking the Oregon Coast
On April 26, 2015, I returned to the Oregon Coast to begin what I called a “Pilgrimage for Prayer.” My vision was to spend the summer or however long was necessary to walk up and down the 400 miles stretch of coastline which Oregon has so majestically along the edge simply in prayer and service to others. “Prayer” is a word which has many religious connotations. For me it was most simply walking in that peaceful place of awareness, communion and connection with God. It was to inspire discussion about who and what “God” is to both live myself; as well as share with others, what I have come to know as living in a place of absolute freedom, love, peace, joy and other “fruits of the spirit.” Each step of the way I encountered people of all sorts; from international travelers, cyclists, hikers and many wonderful locals of the coastal towns and areas I would walk. I connected with churches and community groups and enjoyed each night sleeping beneath the stars (sometimes overcast by clouds) each night.
I would spend over 3 months walking the Oregon Coast and traverse on-foot over 900 miles.
Prayer Pilgrim is now a ministry that works to connect people with God and one another through prayer.
Learn more at prayerpilgrim.org.
July 2015: Humanitarian Explorer
As the “Pilgrimage for Prayer” continued, a vision began to grow and a dream that had always been at the deepest parts of my heart began to feel like it was becoming closer and closer to reality. For as long as I could remember my most prominent dream had been to explore all of the world; to see as much of this Earth as possible while I am here to see it with my eyes. Deeper still, I have wanted to explore all of the world for the people; to connect with all human beings from all walks of life to bring people together; regardless of our differences to solve global problems.
Humanitarian Explorer was born of a vision to explore all the world, on-foot and in faith, to see that all people have clean water, food and shelter. We connect with non-profit organizations and community groups to learn about specific projects that are working to give people life’s most vital resources and meet essential needs and use the simple act of walking to devote our steps to raising funds and awareness for those projects.
Learn more at www.humanitarianexplorer.com.