DAY 122: Couchsurfing is a beautiful thing. I’ve relied on the website for about a quarter of my #RunningTo stops across North America, and I’ve yet to have a negative or even remotely unpleasant experience.
Most of my surfing stops have featured myself with a single host or married hosts or hosting roommates, but sometimes I’m not the only one surfing. Sometimes these benevolent beings called Couchsurfing hosts allow more than one set of surfers into their homes.
It’s happened a few times on this trip. I’ve slept on one couch while some other wandering soul from another corner of the galaxy sleeps on another.
This was the case in Little Rock: the capital city of an innocuous state somewhere between the Southeast and Don’t Mess With Texas. It was there that my journey merged with three others’.
It was there that my eyes were opened to what true wandering and true faith looks like.
I knock on the door and am welcomed by one of the sweetest women I’ve yet to encounter on this trip. Her shaggy little dog, Toby, runs up to me and greets me with a similar vigor.
J leads me into the sunken living room and we talk on the couch. Her husband will be home shortly, and she tells me they never dreamt of landing in little old Little Rock. And yet here they are working in ministry and regularly opening up their home to Couchsurfers. Another ministry altogether.
The doorbell rings. We go to the door, and three other people step inside: two young ladies and a hipster dude with gauged earrings. All of them believers in the same Jesus I follow. It is the first time J and her husband have ever hosted separate Couchsurfing parties; this combination just felt right, J tells us.
We gather around the dinner table and tell the stories that brought us to this place and moment in time. I say a little bit about my trip and then listen eagerly. One of the girls is moving across the country to the same state I fled four months ago, her good friend joining her for the long ride.
And then there is Josh. This long-haired guy from Alabama who decided to hop a ride to California because he felt God leading him there. He’d never even met the one girl until just this week.
Josh has traveled to 13 countries, including a jam-packed train ride through India. He tells us the whole harrowing tale over dinner, touching on some of his other missions experiences elsewhere. He enjoys the art of photography, especially as it pertains to his global journeys. He then explains his purpose for California.
“There’s a guy at this prayer house in Pasadena,” he says. “I’m gonna connect with him and some other people there because God’s told me to go Uruguay. I can’t wait for when we go to Uruguay.”
As he spoke more of this land of many u‘s, a place even further than California, I sat there a little dumbfounded.
Not if I go to Uruguay, he’d said. Not could or might or would really like to go in my wildest dreams.
And not even when I go to Uruguay. When we. Josh has already incorporated a small team in this vision, a team of people he’s yet to even meet, and he plans for them to leave in a couple short months.
Josh is 23 years old.
When I left Orange County in June, I entered this road trip with a certain level of faith, not knowing when or where this road would ultimately end. It was exciting, it was terrifying, and four months later it remains an escalating blend of both.
And yet I look at this grinning kid with the striped tanktop as he tells me he’s going to Uruguay soon with no real plan at the moment other than a road trip with two relative strangers to a prayer house thousands of miles away which will lead to something that will lead to something else that will inevitably carry him and a team to another hemisphere, and I see another brand of faith altogether.
It’s amazing what a little traveling and wandering can do. It can make a 23-year-old seem 53, and it makes the faith of a mustard seed seem more like a sturdy redwood.
Below is Josh’s HOPE film he showed us, his first film. You can also follow him here. I can’t wait to see his continued journey unfold.
From California to Uruguay, and to infinity and beyond.