So I've been back in the States for a month and a half now and I haven't spent more than 5 nights in a row in the same location. Thank God I'm young, single, and have friends all over the place or it would be incredibly stressful and expensive. Although those factors are also partly to blame for my current unsettled lifestyle.
My travels have thus far taken me from Madison to Milwaukee, Kansas City, Huntsville, Tampa, St. Petersburg, Orlando, Cocoa, Jacksonville, Charleston, Atlanta, Grand Rapids, and Dekalb. I've just arrived back in Madison after a 4,200+ mile road trip that lasted 24 days and I did it all in my 1993 Chevy pickup that literally brings property values down wherever it's parked.
The trip to Kansas City was mostly for my own sake. After a wild end to the year in Zambia, I wanted to take some time to myself to unwind, refocus, and re-integrate into American culture, and I was fairly successful with that trip. I got to spend New Years weekend with some old friends as well as get back to my home church in Madison and then watch the Rose Bowl with some old roommates. I then worked on my truck for three days straight and after that I went to the wedding of a good friend where I got to see another crowd of really awesome people from years past.
The bulk of the epic road trip I just finished was for Overland Missions' annual conference and staff retreat. I gathered with a large group of fellow Overland staff in Tampa to hear from our leadership team and to spend some quality time together. Hearing from the leadership at the conference was extremely encouraging and revitalizing for me and I am so grateful for the time I got to spend with the staff who I only get to see once a year or so. Also, being at the staff retreat and later at the offices for a weekend was an excellent way to celebrate the happenings of the closing year and dream ahead to bigger and better things to come this year.
From there the return journey to Wisconsin took me to visit friends in several places along the way, seeing their new lives in their settings. I even took an intentional detour through the Appalachian Mountains on my way out of Atlanta and I am so happy I did. The landscape along the drive was incredible and I hit it at sunrise no less so it was very much worth the added time and distance. As good as it was though, it still didn't compare to the fruit resulting from the time spent with friends on other detours of the drive. It seemed like everywhere I went, I was encouraged by the hospitality extended to me and by the quality of our time together and I was blessed to be able minister to my hosts as well. As fun as it was to drive all over creation in a $1,000 truck that had to be torn apart in an AutoZone parking lot in Florida, the best part of the journey was being able to see Christ working through my friends in their respective ministries all over the country. It's always a blessing to see the Church in action.
From here on I'll mostly be in Wisconsin although I might head up to Minneapolis briefly. I'm excited to see more of my friends and supporters and swap stories of what God did with this year. I'm heading back to Zambia in early March and I'll most likely not return for 21 months so I want to make the most of my remaining time in the US. The truck is running better than ever at the moment so I might as well drive it.