40 Pounds of Hope

Have you ever looked at a physical object from your past and feel like you’ve been teleported to the moment you first saw it? I truly believe this feeling is the only form of time traveling I will ever experience during my lifetime. Whether these objects remind us of good or bad times, they all help show us how those moments in our lives have shaped us into the person we are today.

My Dad has a Rawlings Mark McGwire MAC300 youth baseball bat sitting on the side of his bed in case someone ever tries to enter our house unwelcome. It’s the first bat my parents bought me as a child and every time I see it I just remember my dad handing it to me and telling me to be careful when I’m practicing in the backyard.

A couple of days after I received my new bat,  some kids from our neighborhood came over to play whiffle ball. We used a plastic bat and plastic ball while we pretended to be playing under the lights of Chavez Ravine, home of the Los Angeles Dodgers. After a hard-fought 18 inning thriller, the Dodgers beat the Giants 18-12. As my neighborhood friends left one by one, I decided to take some practice swings with my new bat. Everyone was gone at this point, so I thought what’s the worst i can do.

Unbeknownst to me one of my friends left his glove at my house. It so happened to be on the ground about a foot behind me. I never heard him come through the side gate, but I did hear him crying on the floor when I connected my bat to the top of his forehead from my back swing. Our friendship didn’t last long after that, at least the bat did!

The bat is only one example of these physical objects in my life. Most recently I’ve been looking back on all the souvenirs I collected and all the photos I took during Ride for Water this summer. I’ve been getting pretty sentimental as the remaining days of our campaign has reached 6 and  we’re still trying to raise $10,000. There was one object from our journey which transported me back to the day I committed to take part in this campaign and took me on a journey all the way to the day we walked out of charity: water’s headquarters in NYC.

jerrycanThis object is known as a Jerry Can. It’s the yellow gasoline jug I’m hoisting on my shoulder in the picture above, it’s the symbol of the charity we partnered with and it’s the way most developing countries transport and store their drinking water. Every day of our trip I would walk to the nearest water hose and fill up our personal can. I would stare down at our at our bright yellow Jerry and see a problem with our world. I would see the women and children who take on the responsibility to carry the 40 lb jug from the nearest water source back to their homes. I would think of all the possibilities families would have if they didn’t spend most of their day collecting water. Not to mention the water they collect often contains diseases which leads to sickness and death.

For most of our trip when I looked at the Jerry Can, I would see a crisis, but God has a way of turning something negative in this world and making it into something beautiful. Now when I see a Jerry Can I see 40lbs of hope. I see an object that portrays a world where everyone has access to clean water in or just outside their homes. I see a charity organization which empowers all types of people to make a difference. Most importantly I see YOU! Yes you. I see you reading this blog post and being presented with an opportunity to change someone’s life forever.

We only have 6 days left in our fundraising campaign and all im asking is for you to consider giving $5 dollars each day for our final week. Your willingness to donate each day would amount to a total of $30 and would give 1 person clean water for the rest of their life. It’s up to you on what you’ll see when you look at a Jerry Can.  I’m inviting you to see the beauty in it and believe me, it’s an amazing view.

Cheers,

Emilio

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

You’re my hero

If there was was one thing I learned on the road as I traveled with Ride for Water it was that not all heroes wear capes, they don’t all have superpowers, and they sure don’t all get their own movie. It was especially clear when I visited the 9/11 memorial, the battlefield at Gettysburg, and other national monuments that are so important to our country’s history.  But do you know what all heroes do have?

They have this calling in their lives to put others before themselves!

There was this moment in Fargo, North Dakota where the Safe family opened up their home to us. They had three children and their 2 year old son, Charlie, was so excited to show me his new bike. He kept going up and down their front driveway, gaining more speed with each try. Then these 5 strangers rolled up on the driveway with their bigger and more expensive bikes. They all had the same outfits on, which were skin tight resembling that of a fictitious super hero. Charlies face immediately lit up and he turned around to take it all in.  As he turned his head, there was Paul with his bike in hand and all his gear still on. Charlie looked up at him like, “Wow! I want to be just like him!”

13391528_10209374476656395_8798083463350143953_o
Charlie trying to take it all in, also the moment which inspired this post!

Chills immediately ran down my arms & once again I was reminded that this ride was bigger than all of us. We started this journey because there are 665 million people who don’t have access to clean water. At the end of it we left, at least I left, understanding that this ride accomplished more than bringing awareness and funds to our cause.

Throughout our journey there were individuals who always thanked us for caring and for our willingness to sacrifice our time to make a difference, but to be honest I never saw myself as a hero. I just sat in a car, found housing for our team, and made them lunch so they wouldn’t starve as they peddled anywhere from 80-130 miles a day. I think people looked up to the boys and wondered how they got up every morning and continued to bike.  It wasn’t because they loved cycling that’s for sure. Pretty much every guy on our team hated their bike.

It goes back to that call, which all heroes have, to put others before themselves. Someone once said, “The engine of the bike is the person who sits on the seat.” The engine in our lives for those 50 days we were on the road, was those who don’t have immediate access to one of life’s basic needs. I admire the hell out of all of the riders on our campaign this year, but the heroes I saw every day weren’t just them. The more cities we entered and the more state lines we crossed, the more I began to realize a hero doesn’t have to take on some magnificent quest or tackle some huge problem in this world.

A hero is Kari Burrows, a Director at Boeing, who opened her doors for 7 strangers as she was planning a wedding with her whole family and then answered her phone for these strangers when they were in great desperation, while she was leading a meeting in front of a board room of managers. A hero is Nate and Alice Safe, a football coach and a mom, who have a 7 week newborn and two other sons, yet they still decided to welcome in 7 strangers into their house. They fed us, cleaned up after us, and gave us entire access to their basement where their kids play. Who in their right mind would do something like that with a newborn in the house? A True hero, that’s who. 

These people were ordinary individuals doing extraordinary things. What drives them is what also drove us as a group. At the core we all want to make this world a better place and we all do it in our own ways. We ride bikes; they house strangers. So here’s your chance to go make a difference; ride your bike, cook a meal, or in all seriousness just be nice. You never know who is looking at you wishing they can be like you someday!

Cheers,

Emilio

Here’s a brief slideshow of some real heroes from this trip!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Just Keep Going

Just keep going. The thought that was going through all of our riders minds on day 2 of our trip as they climbed 36 miles up the Cascade Mountains in Washington and the thought that is constantly going through my head as I try to find them housing each night.

On day 1 of our trip, we had no plans for housing and the only contact we had from last years team made weed cookies and didn’t have a phone. Gio, the other support driver, and I were frantically looking and at each stop the boys would ask us if we had any leads.  I would sadly respond with a no. I felt like I was letting them down. They were biking 85 miles that day pushing their bodies to the max. I was sitting in a car and failing at my only job.

After our third stop Gio got on the phone and called Citipoint Church in Marblemount, Washington. The pastor’s wife, Nikki, answered the phone and told us she had no housing for us, but she wanted to know more about our cause. We started telling her about the ride and what we were doing it for and after a couple more questions and some brief answers, she offered to let us stay at the church. She started to give us the address, but the service in the mountains is terrible and we started to lose our call.

Nikki could sense the call was about to drop and calmly said, “I don’t know if you can hear me, but just keep going. Come to the church. Just keep going.” Chills were sent down my spine. Not only did we have a place to sleep, but how many times in our walk with God does He whisper, “Just keep going.”

IMG_7980.JPG
Pastor Matt and the Ride for Water Team

Just keep going and I will take care of everything. Just keep going and your worries will be put to rest. Just keep going and I will show you that I AM God! I always had a sense that I would see God provide for us on this trip, but I never thought it would be this powerful on the first day.

Citipoint was a huge blessing. They housed us, they fed us, and the church just so happens to be a food bank so we stocked up on snacks for the next couple of days. Since then God has continued to provide for our needs. He has placed us in homes where we are treated like family and he has provided funds to fix a broken transmission. It’s crazy to think that it’s only day 4. Here’s to the other 46 days ahead of us and all the new adventures along the way.

Cheers,

Emilio

A Season Full of Questions

What are you going to do after you graduate? 

The dreaded question most seniors in college hate to hear. My response changes every day and if you would ask me at this very moment, I would simply respond by saying, “100.” Tomorrow I would say 99 and the day after that I would say 98, because as of right now, I have no clue what I’m going to do after I graduate. The opportunities that are available to me are endless and I’m constantly praying for patience in this time of uncertainty. If there’s one thing I’m certain about, it’s the number 100.

In 100 days, I will graduate.

In 100 days, I hope to provide the answer that pleases my Heavenly Father and everyone else on this earth who won’t stop asking me this question.

In 100 days, I will be doing _______.

 

The writing above came straight from my journal. I tend not to leave blanks in my writing, but when I wrote this piece I had a strong feeling that a new opportunity was about to reveal itself. I thought it would be cool to come back and fill it in. I pictured myself scribbling in a new job with a different color pen, so when I would look back on this entry it will serve as a constant reminder that everything will be ok. Unfortunately, like most of my plans, the reality of the situation ended up being the exact opposite from what I  envisioned.

Rewind to November of this past year. An internal battle between pursuing all of the materialistic things I could ever imagine and pursuing a God centered life was slowly taking over my thoughts. More and more questions began to surface. What do i want out of life? What do I value? What would my life be like if I wasn’t a Christian? With every question, came an answer and the only answer that mattered was that I couldn’t picture a life without Jesus.

We are called to be disciples in the Great Commision(Matthew 28: 16-20) and everything I had learned in my small group had been preparing me to go out and spread the Gospel. I immediately started applying to long term mission programs, but every application resulted with a denial letter that had some sort of encouragement for God’s plan in my life. I was confused, I was angry, and at one point I looked to the sky and asked God, “What do you want from me?” A question with no answer or at least so I thought.

 

Back to the present. I recently obtained an amazing opportunity to intern for a hospital in East Los Angeles implementing wellness programs into local high schools. I thought this was it! I thought to myself, “Oh man God, you’ve outdone yourself.” I get to work with underprivileged youth and share my passion for a holistic view of health. I started getting my ducks in a row, picturing myself pursuing this after graduation and moving to a full time position.

I finally looked forward to answering the dreaded question I once hated to hear, but then I met Andy. Andy recently joined my discipleship group and is participating in Ride for Water, which is a group of 10 college students who are cycling across the United States to support Charity Water in the fight against the global water crisis. Back in November I jokingly  told my friend Aaron that I would drive for the group. Not knowing that Aaron took me seriously, he brought up the idea of me driving to the group unbeknownst to me, which led to debates over whether I would be a good fit or not.

These debates were going on during the times of my rejection letters and my angry conversations with God. Now I’m sitting at table, eating dinner with this guy named Andy, who I barely know. Were talking about God’s calling for our lives and the significance of Ride for Water. Our conversation was extremely uplifting and we were affirming one another in our search for God’s calling. At one point in the conversation, Andy looked at me and said, “I want you to drive. You need to drive!”

I immediately stepped back from the conversation. Questions started flooding my brain. What about my internship? Shouldn’t I get a head start on my career? What about my student loans? If I do this, what does life look like after I get back? I went home and called the one person who would speak truth into my life, my father. I asked my Dad for his advice and was waiting for him to tell me not to do it, but he told me the exact opposite.

What I realized in this moment is during this whole process of discovering God’s will for my life, I made everything about ME. I wanted to be a missionary because it was the admirable thing to do, in MY eyes. I wanted to continue with my internship because it could potentially bring structure to MY life. If there was one thing that was true in this whole process, it was a desire to make a difference for the Kingdom of Heaven and here it was. Here’s an opportunity to make a difference, so through this, God will be glorified. It’s not what I previously envisioned, but by doing this there’s a possibility of providing clean water to some geographical area that a missionary could be working in right now. Same purpose, different mission. 

I texted Andy that next night, “I’m in!” Then I picked up my journal, opened it up to the entry you read above, and scribbled in “Ride for Water” with a different color pen. It was now official. It’s going to happen. Most importantly, it’s God providing not only for those who need clean water, but also for a college student who strives to serve in this type of ministry.

Thank you God! You amaze me each day.

Emilio