Bare bones outline for the start ….
This story pretty much starts with my dear friend Ashley going down to Guatemala and then starting to date one of my closest friends named Judah . I met Judah when he decided to move from Guatemala to Washington to be closer to Ashley and go to college . I had to check this guy out to see if he was ok to date my friend and I remember the first time I met him I had a Kawasaki Ninja zx10 1000cc crotch rocket and he asked me to ride it... I asked if he had ever rode a bike and he said , yeah in guatemala... it would end up being a few years before I realized the full gravity of that situation . In guatemala they drive like crazy people and the largest motorcyles down there at most have 25% of the power this bike had (at most) . So after he almost wrecked my bike we became very good friends . When he went back home to Guatemala to visit his family he met a woman named Kathryn Mickle that ran an english center in China . He couldn't go bc he was the pastor of a spanish church in Lynden , but he had her email address... that changed my life . In a little over two months from that point I was in China
The night before leaving I almost vomited , felt strange … fears and excitement .
Kelly took me to the airport . Landed in HK … .Crazy lights sounds smells and Jetlag . Met Kathryn and Albert my new bosses . I tried to make the best impression I could while feeling like passing out . We went out to dinner and I was in a dream like state – they didn't believe in sleep . Tai Chee in the mornings . Ate at 5 star restaurants everyday for 2 weeks , saw all the sights of SZ . I had a maid – crazy . The buses going anywhere were crazy
Prepping for the center to open , long days of work , stomach illness getting use to the new intake of rice . Met Lori Zhang a christian at the opening day . Met Byron and Johnson … college students . Made friends with Tom .. soon after Cammy was hired . I remember standing out in the rain with her passing out flyers for the center . Thai Chee in the mornings with Kathryn . Shopping trips to Carefour for all sorts of food . Thompsons Pizza on Tuesdays with a canadian named David . Started doing martial arts everyday . Kathryn and I invited to cammys amazing parents house . I met parents got along well – It was a hot and muggy day... a long taxi ride out . Cammy graduated , I was interviewed by SZPT college for the English section on there radio program , got to talk about building a church in Mexico with DCC . I took a large group of chinese friends to a underground church in SZ . My friend Noah first invited me there . Noah was a chinese christian from SF cali that retired in SZ . I remember singing classic country american songs on a the top of an overpass walk-way at 1am with the pastor and my friend Healthy . Got in contact with a HRWF at Shekou , Jack
Tom and I had an epic day on the beach in China , thousands of people … dirty water but it was like a movie as we talked about our hopes and dreams of the future screaming “One day!!!” down a deserted stretch of beach doing summer salts like kids . This was the first time tom had ever been to a beach . One day at the office there was a large riot as a small battle between civilians and the police erupted , I went down to the ground level and started taking photos but a policeman caught me and I thought I was going to get arrested , my chinese friends told them I was crazy or something and they let me go...One night outside of my apartment in China a car alarm started going off . It was going off for an hour until I got fed up and went outside . I witnessed 4 guards slapping the van trying to get it to stop. I casually walked up climbed underneath the fan and pulled the wire to the horn out . As I got up I could see the amazement from all of the guards and I ended up walking back up to my apartment like a conquering hero and go back to bed . It was pretty funny .
. Met Raghu at kungfu . Went out with a large group of kungfu-mates (all chinese) to a resturant to celebrate me roundhousing an oppenet to submission . My oppenet was a chinese policemen and he treated me to dinner. My kungfu teacher would always say “NO POWER” because that was the only english he spoke and constantly made me do things over again . The dojo was sweaty and gross . Its a wonder I didn't get staff infection from there .
One night after Church I went to visit Walmart with my Christian friend Noah in his classic Jeep . We drove all over town until I realized that he was super low on gas.... I said "Noah , we dont have much left , " ... he said "no we are fine" ... About 5 minutes later on a hill in the city we start sputtering and have to pull to the side ... Im thinking "oh great there is no AAA roadside in China" , and noah pauses to think in his car pondering deeply . We both get out and start rummaging around in his trunk and now I cant 100 percent honestly remember what we put into his tank ... It was something like , half a beer , windex and some other dark substance . As we drive away he just laughs at me and says "its a jeep man , it can run anything!" . He was right , but I still laughed for a good 5 minutes after .
Another night in the dojo I was sparring with a policeman that had been training for 2 years in his Art . I was very accustemed to my teacher(s) telling me "No power" as I threw a volley of punches and kicks as that was the only English they knew (probabley from a Bruce Lee movie) . By the end though of my training I got to spar with him and I landed a perfect round house kick from ear to jaw , effectively taking him out . He looked at me after a few minutes and smiled , then a large group of us went out to dinner (teachers and students!) at a local food stand . Just recently a friend stated that that was "probabley the only time you could kick a communist chinese policeman in the face and him take you out to dinner..." . That is very true .
Riding the subway everywhere… Cammy left to Australia 3 months after . My best student ivanna won 2nd place in Beijing english comp . My friend Pete came down to SZ to get his visa renewed in HK with me . Many an intense talk with him . Cigar smoking with friends as I got prepared to leave to Beijing . Flew to Beijing , got to hang out with Pete , and stay in his class at Beijing University . He taught the Chemical weapon specialists and satelite people etc … essentially chinas brightest English in the Media . Im sure that I met future leaders in that class of China . We would frequent subway because I hadnt had western food in 5 months . Fun nights at Wudokou the hippest college/international spot in Beijing with a bustling music scene and an environment that was completely foreign to me in the rest of china . I ran out of money as WAMU had cancelled my old visa card and replaced them with Mastercard (I still hold a bit of a grudge jk) . Now my debit card was worthless and I had 600 USD to try to find a flight to Australia with . Sick tired and uncertain of the future . Cammy arranged one of her friends to meet me to loan me 1000 rmb … $115 usd? To pay for the flight . The guy that delievered the tickets was late and I remember getting my tickets then booking it to the airport . Taxi driver was friendly … I was on the plane to a new world..
Flew from Beijing to Shanghai... stayed there for awhile then flew from there to Sydney Australia . The air was clean , everything was expensive and I suddenly felt short again . Because of my $$ situation another friend loaned me cash at the airport for a flight to Melbourne my final destination . Sydney was so hot and I had so many bags that I decided not to stay but to just get the next flight out of there . I took the flight to melbourne where I felt my eyes where going to pop out of my head for going up and down in pressure 3 times in the course of one day – most intense pain ever . Got to the ground . Landed at a small airport , took a bus into melbourne then got on a train to ballarat . Exhausted! I was glad that I could communicate with everyone in English again... how strange that was . Got home to ballarat that night , met my new roomates and crashed .
Shortly there after I moved to Swan Hill to work as an illegal on a farm . I worked on various farms for my cambodian bosses (contractors) for the next 3 months . Americans cant get work visas so It was my only option to make money . I went with my Chinese friends as a group of 4 guys . We took a train to a dusty desolate town in the middle of nowhere . Very crockodile dundee . We found are new accomadations to be a dumpy motel that had a pool at least . It was dirty and there where an incredible amount of illegal people living in the hotel . When I say illegal I mean that they had over-stayed there visas in some cases in excess of 7 years and they where always on the lookout for police . I learned a ton about what life looks like for illegals . One time on a farm the immigration police came to check on the situation and I had to run out and hide behind a barn with abunch of malaysians.. they said "Why you run , you white' !!" That was nerve racking as the police walked around the premises and we where deathly quiet. Im able to sympathize with the plight of these people . I met woman that hadnt seen there kids for years but sent money back to malaysia each month to keep them in school so they could have a different life . Incredible! The first day of work my cambodian bosses said “be ready at 6am” ready for what I wasnt sure??... I got a terrible sleep that night invisioning me getting picked up by immagration . Because of that I always wore college shirts like “university of Sydney etc” and honed my skills in on southern australian accent just in case . The first day of picking I was a fish out of water. It was a 110 degrees , im pretty sure the flies where trying to eat my face and you couldnt open your mouth because the flies where attracted to the moisture . It was as close to hell as I will ever be . By 12pm that day I didn't think I could make it without dieing... thanks to the farmer- I wouldnt have to... Some tongans came up (super tall black guys , good for picking) came and asked the farmer for a job . Myself and my three chinese friends where fired on the spot . My cambodian contracter and boss (if you had a car you were essentially a boss being able to move the illegal workforce from one farm to another) cursed me and my friends for being lazy . It was then and there I knew I didn't have what It takes to rough the aussie outback . There are a lot of things that can kill you down there . Like the italian farmers that want the most bang for there buck . Demotivated we went back to our crappy motel room with rotten food from the previous illegals still in the fridge . The cambodian boss promised us more work the next day (they made 2$ an hour off of us so it was there job to keep us in a job) on another farm . God was watching out for me . As we arrived to this new farm the next day my new Aussie boss was obsessed with American Football and had never met an american in his life . We talked about football non-stop and he overlooked the fact that my picking skill where terrible at that point bc I had no experience . He trained me into a picking machine . After that week of getting use to the heat, dust , flies and misc other bugs I got my first paycheck and realized I was happy. I ended up having many conversations with some of the down and out alchoholic aussies that lived in the motel . I picked up the persona “american dave” and everyone knew me . I landed a job on a zuccini farm where I met my good friend Jay from Korea . I worked very hard and that farm kept me for 2 months until there was nothing left to pick .
It was a corona christmas (christmas lights in a palm tree) as life started to wind down for me on the farm . Dec 25th was nearly 100 degrees and we had a BBQ for christmas dinner with the owners of the hotel . I was the prize of my cambodian bosses work force , I say this in honesty as I was the only fluent english speaker in the bunch and I got along well with the farmers , in turn making the cambodians more money because I could get more workers of theres in a farm than ever before by being able to plan workers/pickers out for them . The Aussie bosses could relay info to me and I would relay that to the cambodians while my friends from malaysia wouldnt be able to understand the work order etc etc . As three months approached it was time to leave australia to Thailand.
Jan 10 – I flew from melbourne to Phuket Thailand , just 10 days previous there were terrorist bombings and Thailand was on high alert . I found a sleepy beach called Nai Yang and I stayed there for 3 days . One morning I woke up early to watch the sunrise . I snorkeled down a deserted stretch of beach . I swam to a small island with coconut trees and was able to eat fresh coconut for breakfast . I staring in my own castaway movie . I came back to the beach hostel to find that the morning beach was now occupied with half naked old swedish women .. It freaked me out .
I spent some time in Phuket town eating the best Phad Thai imaginable . I met interesting people including a british head of police vacationing there that just got done training the new iraqi police force with his wife . The weather was beautiful but at night the prostitution and witnessing the brothels was disheartining . Thailand is one big disneyland for sin . You can buy anything there. It was heartbreaking to see just the tip of that iceburg .
Late one night after meeting some nice english teachers from China on vacation I walked down to the 7-11 to get the one thing I crave more than anything when I go traveling . Chocolate milk – I don't even know why , its not like I drink it here in the states . As I walked out of the store I witnessed a trunk Thai man beating what I found out was his girlfriend who was in tears . I yelled at him in English as she hid behind me escaping the reach of his stick he was beating her with . His rage turned on me . Ive never been so angry or so ready to destroy someone . He was a good deal smaller than me and I had just come from China studying 2 hours of Martial arts a day . He became the focus of all my rage I had ever held for men that mistreated women anywhere in the world – but somehow I calm came over me I hadn't felt before . As his girlfriend escaped it was just me and him and a large circle of thai people trying to get him to calm down and get me to walk away . I stood there looking him square in the face as he delievered palm strikes to my neck that I hardly felt . I knew exactly what to do to break his arm the next time he struck me but by the grace of God I stood there and was able to absorb the impact of his attacks without returning anything . I cant remember what happened directly after that but I ended up in the american hostel looking for a thai secretary that spoke english and he ended up outside the house next store yelling at the front door to let him in so he could beat his girlfriend more . What I found out later was that was a friend of the woman that felt sympathy for her and let her in and locked the man out . I went into the hostel and couldnt find anyone to translate for me as it was well into the night . The american girls I were just talking with told me not to go to the police because they would arrest me . All in the hostel that were awake begged me to stay inside .. .”this is thailand thats how it is!” I have always believed that evil prevailed if good men fail to act . I decided to risk that and go with God . I went out looking for any resemblance of a police man . I walked silently by myself for about 10 minutes praying and looking for help . Help came in the form of a Thai swat team force practicing maneuvers in a park . After a fun game of chareades with the policemen (none of them spoke english) I convinced two of them to come with me . We pulled into the house where the woman that was hiding her friend was and the woman that was protecting her came out and greated us . She spoke english , but it wasnt that nessecary because of the malice she was spewing about her friends assailent . She then thanked me with all her heart . The policemen ended up shaking my hand and telling me that I was not in trouble because I didn not hit him back . Hitting a tourist is bad for business – not the fact that he was beating a woman . The police went out searching for him and I don't know what became of that man . What I do know was the woman that had been attacked came out and bowed to me . I started crying – we embraced and I had the other woman translate that Jesus loved her .
I flew from Phuket into Bangkok and met a friend I had been working with in Australia named Jo . Jo picked me up in Bangkok and he treated me to everything , I felt bad being the rich american but that was the custom . A week later San my cambodian friend came and we traveled Thailand together seeing the golden temples etc together . A couple of fun times getting lost and drunk drunk drunk taxi drivers made this trip memorable .
San and I bid farewell to Jo (he was busy with marriage plans) and we headed to Pnom Penh Cambodia . Incredible ! Poorest country I have been to . Off the plane I realized I was in a new world as the airport was falling apart . Im not sure how on the level San is as we waltzed through customs with his friend the director of security … a little bit shady but I didn't complain as my visa was rushed to me and they essentially apologized for my brief brief wait . Outside Sans wife picked us up and we went to his father in laws jungle palace . I went to bed early in a mosquito net tent that was set up traditionally on the floor . As I awoke it was something out of a movie as a group of the female servants where all giggling as I awoke , watching my every move in a group . I was the first white man they had ever seen in real life . I saw a lot of things in Cambodia , like the killing fields , then the richest men in the country . My friend san was very rich and I didn't realize that as he lived very simply in Australia . His wifes family was wealthy and so was his , all being devout buddhists .
San took me all around the country . This was the first time in my life I had seen a real starving person . We bought lunch and sat by the road . A woman came up and stared . This wasnt a tourist village by any means as I had been accustemed to throngs of beggars coming up to me in rich areas of bangkok . She never broke site with the chicken we where eating . I walked over to her and gave her my meal and she just looked away as if shamed and began eating it much like a scared stray dog would . It broke my heart . I gave her 5$ US which was a months worth of rice for a family there to eat everymeal – joy on her face .
San and his wife took me to other side of Cambodia to visit Sans parents and visit the site of his future hotel . On this land there were squatters and he was in a legal battle to get them off but the Police in charge where just as corrupt and new that San had money and they demanded pay-offs to get the people off of his property . I ended up going out that night with an American teacher I met to dinner . We had a great time talking about God and life . At 3 in the morning I woke up with a pain I had never experienced before , I rushed to the bathroom and spewed colors I had never seen before . It was the worst night of my life , alone in a hotel room in cambodia . It was actually very nice in comparison so it could have been much worse . I ruined that bathroom . I couldnt keep food in all as my strength diminshed . The cambodian guy that took me to the resturant got cursed out by San for his “stupidity” , I felt bad , it wasn't his fault . It quickly became the worst week of my life . Traveling on bumpy roads with putrid smells all around would make you cringe without have the worst sickness of your life . I was convinced that I could have been close to death . We were unable to find medicine and the hospitals would probabley leave you sicker than you came in and you would also be missing a kidney or something else that is not that important . We had to move towns so we took the bus to the south side of the country and I stayed at Sans moms hote l . It was very dirty and there where no rooms available . They put me in this extra room over the outhouses and near the kitchen (kitchen waste) . It was terrible . But I was able to get some sleep. No one knew what was wrong with me . I was yellow and I peed a little blood .
I made it to malaysia by plane . I snuck in through border security with a hat on to hide my sickness and yellowness. I emailed my parents to let them know my dire situation , the church was praying for me and im positive to this day that that is why im still here . As I took a bus , I got off in the wrong section of town very late at night . It was 100 percent indian muslim . I ended up getting the first hostel I could find and sleeping very lightly with one eye opened . The next day I took off into downtown Kuala Lumpur and found a real hostel that was much safer owned by cantonese people . I checked in then slept for the next 2 days straight . I was gone . I woke up so hungry I went to a mcdonalds and I craved fatty fatty foods like you wouldn't understand . It was the first time in 5 days that I was able to keep food down . My poop soon after was solid . I was still fatigued but I was recovering and I was able to enjoy myself . I found a good hostel with some canadian/aussie guys staying there . I made a friend name Will from England and we traveled all around the area together . It was here that I picked up on the persona “american dave” from a guy named “canadian steve” that said that you have to rep your country anywhere you go . I brought that to australia with me . From malaysia I flew back to Phuket waiting for my return flight to melbourne 3 days later . I made friends with a nice swedish family (not naked) that took care of my dinner on the beach . I aslo met two eccentric italian guys that raced cars back in verona... that was fun . To save money I stayed in a abandoned hotel on the beach that was hit by a tsunami and the owners didnt have enough money to fix it . In those 3 days I rented a scooter with a australian friend I made . We drove them everywhere and during rush hour in Phuket I nearly got killed by a truck driver that didnt see me or didn't care . I laid the bike down , banging myself and the bike up pretty good . We took the bike to a Hello kitty stationary shop for some paint to match to the scooter – the damage wasnt extensive , just paint scratches... and we fixed that thing right up . I had to hold back some laughter as I returned my bike and the renter gave me my passport back , it was a big sigh of relief .
I flew back home to Australia happy to be alive . When I arrived to melbourne I realized I was broke and needed to get back to work . I spent a week in Ballarat with Cammy and her family as they had flown down to visit her then I packed my bags to Swan Hill once more .
This time I came back as a pro , the same cambodian guy that picked me up the first time now greated me with open arms and wanted to go celebrate my return . He took good care of me . This time I had a 4 bedroom house I shared with 6 people . I had my own room . Amazing . During this time I worked on the Infantinos farm driving tractor and making good friends . I was the first american they had ever met and they had lots of questions for me . I attended a church there but the small town paster was abit stuffy . I devoted a lot of my time to reading about history . I read thousands of pages on chinese history and I also studied the history of the countries I was just in . I remember reading Nelson Mandelas 900 page auto-biography in 5 days as I was so inspired by him and his sacrafices . The last week I was in swan hill my cambodian boss talked with me about urgently postponing my day off to work on a farm that needed extra help . I gave in , as our relationship became more of a friendship . To my dismay it was the same farm that I spent my first day ever at . The farmer didn't recognize me . As we went picking that day as a large group harvesting zuccinni and onions I showed myself to be a good picker . By the time it came to the zuccinnis I was dominating and always finished my row first out of 12 people . The grumpy old italian guy came up to me with a new song on his lips as he sang praises of my picking ability . He offered me a fulltime job there on the spot and asked me why I hadn't been working from him before . I then told him that he was the first and only guy to fire me in Australia , he was astounded and did not remember at all . He said something to the extent that “I probabley deserved to be fired though” , we both had a good laugh and I thanked him for making me a better picker through my first day of frustration .
I went back to Ballarat with money in the pocket and I started working with The Salvation Army . I got involved with there food distributions and food collection . I also worked in the clothes section (much like goodwill on a smaller scale) . I got to play saxaphone in the band on a few sundays and I enjoyed my time tremendously . Commander Dean Sutton (Pastor) and I formed a friendship and he asked me to do Hotel ministry with him . In the back of my head I thought “no problem “ something like the Gideons back home . What I didn't realize as we arrived to our first “Hotel” was that in Australia “hotels” are actually bars . I was being thrown into bar-ministry without knowing it …. but I came to realize that was probabley the best way to start without getting yourself all pysched out . I shared with sober people , I shared with Drunk people and everything in between . Also we raised money and awareness for the Aussie farmers (it was the worst drought in 100 year) at the bars and I was able to use my first hand knowledge to help the cause . I was really enjoying life . I got an email from Rob at camp firwood in Washington wanting me to counsel . I made the long distance call and we prayed about it and I knew my time in Australia was coming to an end .
For the last few days there I spent them in Melbourne with Cammy . Enjoying the sunset on the beach not knowing at the time that that was going to be the last memory I ever shared with her .
As my 13 month journey came to an end I flew from Melbourne to Honolulu (its cheapest to stop in Hawaii before australia for your future reference) . As soon as I hit Waikiki I knew I needed to get out of there , way to touristy for me . I bused it to the north shore and found a cool hostel . I slept for hours after being jetlagged to pieces . I met a cool guy name Danny that was laying low and having a really hard time with a recent divorce of his . We spent the next week talking about God and his plan for our lives . I told him about the trip I had just took around the world and he was Inspired . He would later say that I saved his life in Hawaii as God made our paths cross. We surfed , we cruised down the Aloha freeway at 12am in his jeep just taking in the beauty of life . I almost got eaten by a shark when I was out snorkeling , not paying attention to my location in the reef as I was so intoxicated by the beauty of the underwater turtles . All in all it was an amazing experience in Hawaii and I slept a few nights on the beach . When I finnally flew into Seattle at the end of that week (FREEEEEEZING!!!!) the only person that knew I was in the US was Vern Frykholm as I had kept it all a big secret .
You should have seen the look on my parents face at 1am as I knocked on the front door . The next day I surprised my sister in Bellingham for her birthday as I had not seen her for over 400 days . What a trip.
On October 1st 2008 myself and my 2 friends Ben and Jake set out for South America . We flew into Texas then into Santiago . I don't remember the flight at all as Jake showed me the wonders of sleep aids on flights... I essentially woke up in another country rested . As we landed in Santiago we met up with some french people that showed us a neat Hostel called La Casa Roja . There we met the US special Olympic Ski team and so much more . That night (within the first 12 hours of the trip) we were truly disappointed with Santiago and how we thought there was rockclimbing everywhere . We decided to go out and climb a brick building which turned out to be an overwhelmingly stupid idea . In about 20 minutes we were apprehended by police and I knew we were going to get robbed blind then left for dead as we where in a dark deserted ally way . Neither happened . The police didn't speak English and we had to play dumb and apologetic . All of our possesions on us were emptied on the ground as the policemen frisked us looking for....? At one point the officer put Bens money back into Bens pocket and we knew we were dealing with good cops . Jake looked over at me as I smiled , he said “This is amazing” . Long story short we are not allowed to climb buildings anymore in Santiago .
We took a gorgeous bus ride through the andes to get to Mendoza Argentina . We stopped in a mountain barracks that looked something straight out of a James Bond movie . At this point Ben, Jake and I were the scruffyiest looking guys around and people wanted to take pictures with us . We spent the next week in Northern El Salto where we camped out on rocks that we climbed during the day . We found that the small town we were in was on a siesta until the next weekend and we found ourselves out of food and water . We decided to risk it all and climb to the top of the mountian where we found a magical brewery . I say magical because it would be the same equation to the Hansel and Grettel story as the brewmaster as the witch . I say this because 2 days without food or water that Brewery symbolized survival and food . It was a joyous trip back down the mountain and shortly therafter we found a store that was open .
One night we slept on a outcropping and some locals could see our fire on the mountain above to them far below us . They shined lights up on us and we were convinced we were going to get murdered , but somehow we fell asleep that night then looked for the next small bus out of town . The next day we waited 8 hours for a fabled bus that ran through the town every once and while . As soon as we were on it we went back to mendozza sleep deprived and hungry set on the biggest steaks in town . That night there was a feast . We kept trekking south down the country , visiting large glaciers as well as meeting notable characters like a drunk Irishman and fun gang of high-school street kids . I witnessed the glory or the Perito Moreno Glaciers , the desert of Patagonia and even the epicness of the Andes mountains we climbed in Usuhia Argentina , the southern most city in the world . At the very end of our trip It snowed for the duration as we camped outsided , cold , bitter and nearly out of food . Tensions ran high between the group as we neared 30 days together . I remember it as if It was yesterday when on Halloween we ran out of food had to trap bunny rabbits and kill them then cooked them over an open fire . It was one of the best moments of my life . We all danced around the fire , crazed from the kill as the days previous tensions melted away .
As we flew north to Buenos Aires biding the cold farewell we landed at 7am . Tom , Jakes dad was flying into Buenos Aires that day as well but at the other airport at 12pm . We decided to catch a cab that we were all sketched out with at the beginning . All of a sudden he stops in the middle of the road and holds up a finger . He then walks out and goes to the trunk . We all knew for sure we were going to get mugged . Then he comes back into the car with a lone cd and puts it in . At 7:30 am in Argentina we were blasting Creedance Clearwater Revival with all the members of the car singing and the cab driver honking at everyone . A taxi cab full of girls pulled up next to us and we waved . We evententually made it to the airport where we picked up Tom then we went back into the heart of the city to find a hotel .
As I bid my friends farewell , I was preparing to fly to Guatemala for the mission leg of the trip. I paid for a taxi that took me to the airport , but when we arrived he demanded more money … it was a big scene with us yelling at each other in spanish as he tried to take advantage of me . I ended up just running into the airport and hanging out in a perfume shop for awhile . I flew into florida , got a slice of pizza then flew from florida to guatemala . There I met Judahs sister and her husband . I immediately felt the love . I was shown my room and I got comfortable with my new family . I worked at a camp that stretched me more than anything I had ever known . It was like firwood for those in Wheelchairs . There I fed parapalegics , played basketball games agains the womans guatemalan basketball team and had children as well as adults pee on me . I had to get over a lot of hygiene issues to be there . This is where I learned what being a servant really looked like . In Guatemala it was life or death , you either believe in God or you don't and it was here that my faith exploded into what it is today. God proved himself time and again . I worked in a wheelchair shop as a mechanic and when different groups would come down to visit for a week I would help them with building houses . I took spanish from Mario 4 hours a day for a month to help me get around town . I made numerous house calls with a man named Dick Rutgers to remote places all over guatemala to fix chairs and drop off supplies . One of the best moments ever was when I got to play with a bunch of HIV-positive orphans that lost there parents to the disease in a place run by nuns . It was underfunded in comparison but the love I saw there shown by the nuns to there children was incredible. My apartment that I lived at was ran by the wife of a man that lived in Los Angeles . I lived off the side of the building (my own room) with Her and her 3 daugthers and 1 son . The youngest of the daughters has only seen her father a handful of times as he works legally in Los Angeles as a dishwasher and sends the money back to his family . During the new year he comes home and visits his family . You should have seen the celebration that was held and the excitement of the family . It was electric as father came home!
A lot of the things I picked up in Guatemala like having a “Friday night cooking party” at my apartment with food for my guatemalan friends have continued with me today – We would go out into Chimaltenango and play arcade games for 5 cents and have a ball around town eating at all the outdoor food stands (a lesson I didnt quite learn from Cambodia) . I got to work with a beautiful baby girl with a cleft pallet named Helen in Antigua twice a week as well as others . One day a group of doctors from the US came down and fixed Helens pallet , and she was the most beautiful little thing I had ever seen . As I fed her I prayed over her life – Without warning she was taken back to her village and came to the Hermano Pedro orphanage that day to an empty crib . I cried , but then saw her nametag with Snow White on it and I quickly stuck it in my pocket and it remains on my desk at home to this day. There are to many neat stories in here to fully describe them all , I will have to work on this section later . For the major events at the camps we would take all of the handicapped people and there attendents on a short cruise across lake Tenochticlan . This was no small task as the job of loading and unloading every member in attendance by hand into a bus was devastating to the lower back . Then the strenuous job of loading the wheelchairs on top of the 3 full size school busses was intense . That procedure was repeated 4 times (Loading, unloading , loading, unloading) and at the end of the day you would sleep like a champion . Making the 2 hour trek to the lake with 3 busses provided a more than fair share of obstacles . Anywhere from herds of animals in the road , to wrecks to low hanging power lines . Everyweek it was my job to climb a top of the bus with a broom to help guide the power lines away from snagging the wheelchairs on the top of the bus . Im not sure if the reader can picture this but it at times was unerving . I would climb up the bus then crouch to avoid powerlines that kept coming like a game of horizontal tetris . The bus driver would creep slowly forward underneath the powerlines as I held them up with the broom while moving on the top of the bus . This all required my full balancing skills as well as reflexes and all of my attention to not get knocked off the top of the bus by a powerline that close-lined my neck and undoubtedly being fried by the less than insulated power line .
Every busdriver needs a guide . Roads are steep , the path is narrow... to guide the bus I would stand in the front door of the first bus holding on to the two metal poles that help you up the stairs. I would watch for animals and powerlines etc . I would plant both my feet firmly on the bottom level and lean out .... outside of the bus! doing 30-50 mph . This must be the way dogs feel as they ride in the back of a pickup truck . It was exhilerating.. the feeling has not ever been duplicated again as drivers in the states would flip over safety violations .
One day while out driving in the countryside with Dick I asked him the question “should missionaries tithe?” … I was rather low on cash and I looked at it like I was tithing my time and life essentially... not so much the money . He responded with “You can't out give God” . That left me dumbfounded as I knew it was true . That weekend at church I gave my alloted budget of 3 dollars (which was huge at the time!) to the offering . I said “God im not sure how im going to eat but I trust you “ . At 4pm that day my friend Giovanni called me up and invited me to pizza and icecream . Praise God!!! An answer to prayer . As we went out that night I ate at different food stands as it was near the Christmas festival . I was fully excited on life . At 2am that morning I woke up feeling terrible.... Food poisoning …. great I thought to myself . I rushed to the bathroom all night and it was not part of my apartment but outside of it so I had to put a towel around myself and rush to the toilet . I thought to myself “great thanks God” I trusted and it got shot down . Now I have to buy medicine thats going to put me way past my budget . That monday as I lay week in Bed I read my bible for hours , I had never read or prayed so much before then for the next 3 days . On wednesday night I was feeling abit lonely and depressed as I was couped up in my room . As I sat there feeling sorry for myself , I got a knock on my door . 2 guatemalan girls from my church stood in front of me . There father had heard my plight and there they stood with my favorite guatemalan street food and 100 quetzales which is about 14$usd … a huge amount of money! There I was getting money from the guatemalans … incredible . As they left I broke down and cried about how God had taken care of me when I didn't deserve it . I was in awe . As tears poured down my face I decided to call Judah from my cellphone . I began to tell him what happen and he said “great dave , but your not going to believe this....” Oh no I thought to myself what? “This sunday at 2am in the morning I woke up and God had put it onto my heart to pray for you and send you 100$ USD “ . I had to set the phone down. That was a miracle . Right at the time I had diarhea and at my worst God was there looking out for me . It was the most amazing God moment I had experienced until that point in my life .
On my way out of Guatemala I stayed over with some missionaries in Antigua that had a house to themselves . It was incredible to be in a real house again . I helped them setup there website – I spent over 20 hours in 2 days setting up 3 websites but they more than repaid me with food and lodging . Antigua was a stark contrast to the poverty I had experienced and it made me feel abit uneasy being there around tourists with lots of money when there was starvation and poverty going on just outside of the city limits . During my time in Guatemala I climbed a volcano with a Honduran youth pastor and I went to Tegulcigalpa honduras to visit him .
As I took the Bus into Tegulcigalpa I realized that Maiko was not there to pick me up . Then I found that I did not have the correct number to his cellphone or the correct currency and nowhere to exchange my Guatemalan money . It was late , dark and I was in a very bad section of town . I sent a few quick prayers up and they were answered quickly in the form of Anais , a girl from Honduras that was studying in Los Angeles . Her and her boyfriend saw me and she said “are you lost-do you speak English?” I said yes to both . She offered to let me use her phone , but the number I had was wrong by one digit . She then offered me to come to her house and use the internet to contact Maiko … I was never so relieved my whole life . I went to there house and shared Christ with the family and what I was about . Anais's mom was a French Proffessor at the Uni and we had a great conversation . As soon as Maiko came to the house , we were all laughing about the situation as I was brisked away in Maikos car safe and alive... He said “we are going out for baleadas now!!!” (honduran burritos!)
The week I spent in Honduras was the best week of my life . I was stretched to my limit , I got to be apart of street missions there in a very dangerous section of town . We painted a church in rural Honduras , and Maiko also held a Halo (xbox) outreach at his house where I domintated through years of training (God can redeem those wastes of time to make you look more legit in a 3rd world country) . All my Honduran friends watched the Super Bowl on TV for my sake and the girls made us pizza . On one of the nights I was introduced to the literally Presidents Daughter of Honduras , she was a recent convert to Christianity and on fire for God wanting to bring change to her country . We spent about an hour talking at the bible study her and I then on subsequent nights she would call Maiko late at night then I would talk to her about my day and her country . On my last day in Honduras I got to go with her and Maiko + secret service to a McDonalds where she gave me the nickname “BigMac” for whatever reason . It was also in Honduras where I was turned onto the power of prayer . The Hondurans were into prayer to an extent that blew me away . Prayer nights , prayer walks , pray for the city times etc etc . It made a mark on my life . One night Maiko and I got to pray on top of a small mountain for Tegulcigalpa and the redemption of the city below . I will never forget the power I felt that night . The days where full and complete … we would wake up at 11 am daily and stay up until 4 am , that was my day. I was prayed over in Honduras by the youthgroup for ministry back in the United States . At the time I thought I was going to Afghanistan to teach English for a christian organization but little did I know that God had other plans (DCC Junior High) . They prayed for that possible mission trip .
As I took the bus back to Guate City I was in awe of everything I experienced . It was almost to much to bear , seeing God power like that and how small I was . I slept in the airport that night to save money and I got to witness to a american guy that worked for one of the airlines . We talked about life and it was sweet . As I got ready to board my flight to Florida I realized that I was on the same flight as a pastor I had met briefly in Guatemala . He said some really tough things to me about just “traveling around” bouncing around from place to place . He talked about commiting to one place because accountabiltiy and your time brings about change . His words were strong and to this day Im not sure if I agree with everything he said because it lacked some element of love but it set the stage for me staying in Washington for this year (at least) with the Junior High students I work with now and the next year as well that Iam commited to . On my flight from Florida to Sandiego , I sat next to two very well dressed and highly educated Haitians ( I didn't know what nationality they were to start with) . They asked me about why my clothes where dirty and torn etc … I began to share with him my whole life story , my hopes and dreams and what I had done . We talked about one of our mutual heros Nelson Mandela and it was an incredible time . As he went to the restroom his female associate said “he is being to humble, ask him about Haiti” . When he returned I did and I found that his name was Norbert Simmons and He was the head of a large organization aimed at revolutionizing Haiti . I told him I didn't believe in chance and that God wanted me to meet him and vice versa he mirrored that . His next country he wanted to visit was Argentina so I got his email and we emailed back and forth about places to go . It really was an incredible situation , on a flight I didn't want to be on to meet those people . I have since forgot the womans name , but she was the President of Little Haiti in Florida . I asked them why they were traveling on a budget budget airline and they said “ we don't like to waste money” . I landed in LAX that night , my uncle picked me up and we headed back to his home in Sandiego .
If your still here , Im sorry... hahaha I will write about Africa and Europe tomorrow... as well as proof read this thing . Please leave feedback on sections I need to expand on etc or general questions
I will be editing this paper in ORANGE .... adding stories to it when I remember or when asked to expand on certain areas or interesting stories.... Now im going into my Africa/Europe adventure.......
On my Final day before I left I got to hang out with my Junior Highers at the Duncans estate and that was a blast . The only way to properly start said trip is by hitch-hiking . I left from the Sequim exit at 7pm and I was shortly picked up by 2 italian girls . I got to share Christ with them and what I was all about . They where pretty earthy (almost hippy) like , but it was a good conversation all the way to the ferry . On arrival in Seattle I stopped at REI to get new sandals then made my way to the airport.
I woke up in Belgium Holland . I stayed there briefly as I prepared to fly into Casablanca Morrocco . As I arrived there , I instantly felt out of place . It is the only time I have been scared to be somewhere . The romantic 50's casablanca was far from the case as I got off the airplane trying to figure out what to do with no plan . I met a french guy on a train and we decided to take a cab together to a hotel . As I walked the city I felt a dark presence as all eyes where on me . I retreated back to the hotel where I prayed and read my bible . The next morning consisted of the hotel losing my passport , and them trying to find it.... I was scared . After that I decided that I was on a mission to leave the country as soon as possible . After walking around all of Casablanca I found that the flights where all booked into Europe and my best bet was taking a train .
I took the hot/humid train into Tangier just happy to be alive as I shared a compartment with two very muslim young men . I was terrified until they started playing some American rap music and this is safe to say that Ive never been happier to hear it in my life when I discovered that they weren't fundamentalist . I arrived to Tangier that night late . There was a festival going on and the city was buzzing with activity . I ended up walking the city until 2am as my feet blead from the new sandanls I was breaking in . I couldnt find a hostel anywhere , so I gave up . The next morning I took the first boat out Morrocco heading toward Tariffa Spain . On the ferry I met a Kiwi named Jeremey and we instantly became friends . We spent the next 7 days traveling together and sharing adventures and mis-adventures . We slept on the beautiful beaches of Tariffa then made are way up to Bunol , where I met up with Ashley . Ashley had given us the wrong address of where to meet her so we stayed up until 2am in front of the wrong house . At that point I couldnt walk anymore because of my feet and I was giving up hope of sleeping again that night . Ashley finally called and Jeremy and I decided to take a taxi to the apartment instead of walking . I slept for 12 hours straight .
Throughout Europe I couch surfed .... meaning that people that you met online would open there houses to you as a complete stranger . It made the journey extremely rich as I learned more about european cultures than any other time in the past .
Bunol - I participated in the world largest food fight featuring 60 thousand people throwing tomatoes at each other . It was unreal and out of this world . I wore googles to sheild my eyes from the acidic tomatoes . At one point a group of drunk spanish men started ripping girls shirts off and I had to hold ashley in one arm and fight off a group of drunk half-interested in us men that gave up as I elbowed my way through the group as Ashley held on for dear life . Jeremys camera was stolen , but we found a waterproof camera floating on a pile of tomato sauce . It was one of the most epic days of my life .
From there we flew from Spain to Italy with a few taxi misadventures and close calls with flight timing but landed in Venice Italy after spending the night in a Barcelona airport . Venice was the most beautiful city I have ever encountered , it is not over-hyped . Spent the next few days at a Hostel walking everywhere in the city . Ashley and I got to share our faiths with different travelers we encountered from all over the world at the Hostel/convent we were staying at .
Ashley and I took a train to Rome and I was blown away by that city as well and its history (not to mention the Gelato) . The second night in Rome there was a huge riot over a soccer fan being shot and killed by the italian police at a game . Ashley and I went to the main train station as we thought the soccer team was going to arrive . Ashley keenly aware of the blood on the ground began to question our surroundings . We asked around in spanish and english why this large mass of people was standing around with no real answers back . We discerned that they were soccer fans and that they were waiting for something (...maybe the soccer team to arrive?) . The reality of the situation was that the riot police were surrounding us as a group of about 1000 people in the train station... some fighting broke out and Ashley and I managed to walk through the ranks of italian swat un-harmed . I tried to talk to a policeman and he grunted at me "American-go this way" - I was more than happy to oblige the towering man with scars on the face and smoking a ciggarette . I wont ever forget that .
As we went back to the hostel we discovered that it was the Nike 10k Human Race night in Rome . Nike put on a 20 city race in 12 major countries around the world simultaneously ... and we just happened to be in Rome . To finish the race Nike held a massive outdoor concert featuring the widely popular Italian band Subsonica . They rocked the outdoor concert next to the colliseum until the early hours of morning . I moshed in a crowd of italian punk-rockers and it was truly a surreal moment in time .
I toured the Vatican on sunday which just happened to be a free day (once a month) and witnessed the sheer hugeness for lack of a better word of this mini-country . Catholics from all over the world converged on this one spot . I saw the Sistine Chapel and the mosoleum of Popes . I couldn't help but cry when I saw where the apostle Peter was buried . All was not well though . In the main sanctuary where the Pope speaks I felt (and so did Ashley) that it was evil . It felt as more a monument to man and organized religion then to God the creater and sustainer of all life . I came from there feeling spiritually attacked and we spent the next hour outside in the square praying for the redemption of the Vatican .
Flew into Athens where we met up with a Greek friend of Ashleys named Kostas . Kostas was more than happy to take us into his Home and show us all the wonders of Athens . I was treated very well and introduced to all of his friends . They had alot of questions for me about America and why I believe in God . It was an incredible few days with him . It was here that I learned how to cook Greek Gyros and other foods as well . When It was time to leave I was saddened .
The next week was spent traveling around Greek Island , snorkeling and lounging on the beach . Ashley and I had some intense conversations about God , and alot of good came from it as we both increased in understanding through prayer . On one of the islands named Santorini I witnessed the greatest sunset of my life . The island was as if California and all of its features where put on a small plot of land in the mediterian . We had a run in with a crooked Moto-renter that rented ashley and I a dilapidated moto that broke down and he blamed me . As he stormed up to us furious on the other side of the island (cursing us because we made him drive 20 minutes to come bail us out) he loaded the bike in his truck and started swearing at us in Greek . Ashley and I sat in the back of his rig holding hands and praying (this was the only physical contact the entire trip between the two of us because we value the friendship and Gods commands I can say honestly) . I was furious at how he treated us , but Ashleys lightest touch difused the situation and the renters "fake" anger (as I call it , it was his fault for renting a lousy bike and it breaking down) . He ended up excepting a bogus payment to clear us up and he dropped us off at the ferry . I was disallusioned with anger , as I stormed away from his car as Ashley asked him "Do you have a relationship with Jesus?" . I learned alot from her that day about patients . As we were left at the dock we ended up striking up a conversation with a couple until 3 in the morning when the boat arrived . We talked about life and its meaning and how there is no meaning apart from God . I wish I would have gotten there emails .
Flew from Crete to Cyprus . We slept on the dirt just outside of the airport . The next morning I woke up next to the largest wild black snake I have ever met . I freaked out , what a rush that was . Yes its scary when you have a large spider in your shoe or when you wake up with one on your sleeping bag but its not the same kind of rush when your next to something that can swallow you whole (Im exaggerating the size of the snake but in my mind that is what it was like for that brief time) . Waiting for the plane that night to Isreal was like living in a dream .
I have never been so excited in my life to go to any country before . As I boarded the plane to Tel Aviv , I felt like I was coming home... as if this was the pinnacle of my life. I struck up a conversation with an Orthodox Jew that was set on showing me how stupid I was in believing in Christ... didn't phase me , I was to pumped to be there . Arriving in customs was almost a nightmare in comparison to anything else I have experienced ... I was asked a ton of questions , searched 3 times and my backpack was chemically tested to see if it had any anthrax etc . That airport had the most amazing security of anywhere in the world I felt safe and had nothing to hide so I went along with all of there questions . We arrived so late that the trains stopped running and we had to take a 30 minute taxi (45 usd!!) to Givatiyim to a friend named Matton's house . I had never been there and we were quiet lost as the cab driver dropped us off . It was 3 am . We eventually found where he lived through the help of one of Matons neighbors coming home from a late night party and we were saved .
Over the course of the next week I learned more about Israel and its people than I have ever learned in my life . Tel Aviv is just like any city in the US , the people are not spiritual at all and do not believe in God . I told one of my friends there that he was God's chosen people and he was blown away . Many philosophical conversations took place . At the end I was told by a new Israeli friend that he was suprised that I lived what I beleived and he respected that . Maton took us everywhere and introduced us to all of his friends . We went to a birthday party , a housewarming party and many other get-togethers where I learned a great deal about the culture . Every Israeli person has served in the Military and there is great unity through that . The strain that "religion" puts on the country is the Ultra-Orthodox Jews that can't work because of all of there rules but they are commanded to make lots of children so the families welfare falls into the hands of the state . My Israeli friends hated paying taxes so people could "sit around and do nothing but be Holy" all day . Im glad Jesus freed us from all of that . But Israel still adheres to the OT . Sad . I heard new views of Jesus and I learned alot about history . Words can't fully describe how awesome this week was and all of the neat conversations , I do remember being looked at differently for not drinking etc and it was all apart of my testimony .
I left Tel Aviv for the hour bus ride to Jerusalem . I was doing a fast to prepare myself . It was the greatest moment of my life . I arrived there at 8pm and I wandered the city until an early hour of the morning . I saw the Upperroom , got to participate in a 24/7 prayer meeting of christians and walked the old city 4 times around . At about 2-3 am I went to the Mt. of Olives and slept on a bench near all the tombs and the garden of gethsemane (which really isn't a garden at all) . I was woken up at 4am by muslim chanting as I soon realized I was in the muslim quarter of the city ... not the safest place to be . I ended up walking quietly while praying to the out wall of the Old City and watching the sunrise over the Mt of Olives at around 7am . Spectacular . I spent the whole morning reading my Bible with a new light - I was there! I saw all the sites of the city including the garden tomb and the possible spot (they don't know for sure) where Jesus was crucified . It was now a muslim bus station and the location for all the trash to be heaped . It was disheartening , but I found it consistant with the scriptures - it was nothing flashy etc hard to explain . As a moseyed my way through the muslim quarter I found a Conservative Muslim man in full dress yelling at a british? woman in english telling her to leave , and that she was lost and not welcome here . As he walked away that piqued my interest and I walked down the long corridor where she was expelled from . I found that I was at the front entrance to the Dome of the Rock , but I was quickly ushered away by israeli guards . I began to see a small picture of why there is constant fighting in this region . Religion for the sake of religion and tradition - ( checklists to holiness! ) . On both sides you have the Ultra Orthadox Jew or Muslim man in his traditional garb or outfit and they both adhere to a set of rules that they believe will get them to heaven- whatever that may look like . Why there is so much tension (this is an incredible over-simplification to the 1000's of year of strife) is because there is no love . Just rules . No love . They follow there rules passionately without loving others , much like the Pharisees in Jesus's day . Its hard to explain here . It was an incredible day of discovery .I left for Tel Aviv back to Matons house to get some sleep and pray for Ashley as I was leaving back to the US and she was leaving for Africa to do intense mission work there . Flying home was incredible . A wave of emotions flooded over me . Prior to my flight home my friend Nathen took me out to a resturant and we talked about God and that was still resonating in my head . They didn't understand all the things I said about God and my view on life , but they understood how I lived . I loved Israel and I plan to return there again one day .
That pretty much wraps up the journey.... I will post more in ORANGE as new things come to me . Its is my intention to add more as I remember or as it becomes relevant to the over-all flow of the story . I will prob go back and edit it in the future to make it more fluid etc . thanks