The secret formula to getting an experience of a lifetime

Just over a year ago, we were rushing around like chickens with our heads chopped off.

We were in panic mode.

In only a few short weeks, we would be loading onto a plane with a few belongings and spending the next three months on Russian soil.
At this time, there were some major concerns happening. My visa hadn't yet arrived from the embassy (in fact, it was due to arrive the day we were leaving), there were still a slew of doctor visits to check off, and we still hadn't officially nailed down the first place of residence where we wanted to stay.

It was only a bit stressful. 

Amazingly, the stars did align, and everything worked out. My visa arrived on time, we found a home to stay in, and Arrow got her final doctor visit hours before the plane flew out.

It worked out almost magically. 

Since coming home from our trip overseas, the biggest question everyone still asks - Russia! How was that?! 

I'm never quite sure how to answer that. The most amazing things I learned in Russia had a lot to do with learning about that wonderful God of ours and how He knows all of His children. I'm never sure if anyone wants to really talk about that though, so normally I just rattle off interesting facts about the apartments and the food. This has been my usual response, until recently.

In a conversation I had with some friends recently, someone remarked how cool they thought it was that we had moved overseas with our family. Then they said something about how they felt like their life was pale in comparison.

It really, really bugged me.

In that conversation, I jumped right in and told them exactly what I'm going to tell you all now.

This is how we ended up in Russia

There are a few factors that motivated us to make this trip happen
  1. Taylor and I love travel and culture of any kind
  2. Taylor knows the land, people, and language of the place
  3. We wanted to do some kind of service
  4. Neither of us were working full time jobs yet
We took all of these facets and created ourselves a summer trip abroad. We planned to tour/video Russia and explain the culture online to Americans. We took this plan to Heavenly Father and asked that there might be an opportunity to do that and share goodness with people.

There was no guarantee it was going to work out. (We've prayed about different ideas with God before and received various answers of "no" or "not yet".) All we could do was make some tentative plans, and figure out budgets and dates.

Speeding up the story a bit... it did happen! One of the biggest miracles was making the funds to go. When we first starting planning, we had negatory Ghost Rider dollars. But, only a few months from heading out, the money literally fell into our laps via our tax return. It was no coincidence that the return was the same exact dollar amount that I had calculated to fund our trip. :) That was a huge sign to us that we were on the right track. We felt good to push forward. We even felt that there was a grander purpose for us going than just touring around and working on videos.

While we were there, I documented the Russian life, met amazing people, and really just fell in love with it all. Granted, I couldn't speak too well, but even that gave me a huge appreciation for the immigrant families I know in America. My personal experience living in the Russian culture was deepened just by being there in the motherland.

However, towards the end of our trip, we still didn't feel like we had fulfilled our purpose yet. Or rather, God's purpose for helping us travel all the way there. We didn't know what that purpose was, despite constantly asking "So... are we doing this right?". We kept doing our best. We invited people to dinner, explored / traveled with new friends, and generally tried to share goodness wherever we went.

...Until a week before heading home. There was a grand finale of a moment when was a letter delivered to us from a friend we met there. He sincerely thanked us for spending time with him. There's no real knowing if we actually made a long term difference, but it did feel good.

Even now, I still don't know if our purpose was "satisfied" but I don't think any time was wasted.

The point of all this

To put the entire Russian experience quite simply, here's the formula of what happened:
  1. Developed a desire to do good
  2. Came up with an idea and told God all about it
  3. Told Him we trusted Him and would do whatever He wanted, even if that meant changing our idea
  4. God knew exactly where to send us and helped make it possible
It didn't matter that it was Russia. It didn't matter exactly how we served or what we said. God just knew He could trust us to follow through with His plan (not ours) and it worked out amazingly.

What this means for you

If you want an incredible, life changing experience, just do these things:
  1. Develop a desire to do good
  2. Ask God for work to do 
  3. In fact, if you have an idea, tell Him about it. He loves when we use those brains He made for us
  4. Trust that He knows exactly where to put you and trust that He'll make it possible  
  5. Know that you're going to have a lot of work to do
When God helped us make our trip possible, He left a lot of the housekeeping things to us. I did hours and hours of paperwork and research and turned positively gray. In a way, I think He wanted us to prove that we really wanted this experience. I also think He knew that we would grow so much more from doing the work ourselves. Very likely, you'll also be facing a lot of frustrating red tape and phone calls to make your dream a reality.

Seriously, our experience isn't all that unique
Because it's quite possible for anyone to have incredible, life-changing experiences. God LOVES to make His children's dreams come true! Take your ideas to Him, ask for His suggestions/improvements, and be willing to do the work required for it.

In Him, all things are possible. 


  1. Such wonderful thoughts. I suppose any given person's life-changing experience might not be as exciting of a story to tell as Russia, but it will always be just right for them. Thank you for sharing!

    1. Just depends a lot on perspective! For some, traveling overseas sounds exotic. However, we ran into a good number of Russians who thought we had lost our minds moving there. They couldn't think of any place more "boring" to go, especially when somewhere like America was a choice!

      Thanks for reading Jenny, I always appreciate your thoughtful comments. :)

    2. I love in step 3 when you say "He loves when we use those brains He made for us" so true!


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