It is the fall of 2011. I am 29 and our family has just spent the last year in an RV, traveling the country to give to others.
Every morning, I wake up and blink, half-uncertain where we are. Sometimes in a Walmart parking lot; sometimes at a campground. Squished in between two tiny girls (a preschooler and a toddler), I wake up to take a fast shower before the warm water runs out.
We pile into the truck and go places to serve. The girls hold our hands at veteran's hospitals, food banks, and crumbling neighborhoods. Old women with wrinkled cheeks and missing teeth laugh the smoker's laugh and bless us.
We play at parks where our white faces stand out. We pray with people in dirty downtowns and around campfires. We don't buy a single piece of clothing the entire year. We understand anew what it means to give until it hurts, not just figuratively, but financially and emotionally.
Every small kindness by strangers and friends along the way is tucked away into our hearts. Although we have incredible travel experiences, we are very alone.
A long-distance friend emails to ask, "Would you do it all over again?" I feel guilty about how quickly the answer forms in my heart, "No. Never. (At least not in the same way)."
When we finally return to our house in safe suburbia, I sit on the tile and almost cry from the sheer joy of having an ice maker and bedrooms and a house with actual walls.
* My husband and I spent 2011 traveling the country in an RV with our two little girls (then, 1 and 4). We volunteered for 150 days and interviewed over 40 non-profit executive directors.