Image SourceEarthquakes. Tsunamis. More earthquakes. I’m not trying to sound nostalgic in the midst of all of these natural disasters, but it makes me think about the really BIG earthquake, the really big tsunami that called upon me to come to Asia. In 2004 it was the earthquakes of all earthquakes, the big one that hit off the coast of Ache in Indonesia. Sent a tidal wave that caused destruction and mayhem in its wake. Everyone on the planet that was supposed to go, went, including me. It took me a few weeks to decide if I was going to leave America or not, but I finally did.
I had no money, just enough gas to get my truck down to Texas to the only NGO that was willing to take me over. I had no relief training, no idea how or why I even wanted to go. All I knew was that there was something pulling me across the planet, something… a feeling I couldn’t ignore that was making it hard for me to drive down to the rickety 747 that was held together with duck tape and chicken wire, an airplane that belonged to the organization Global Peace Initiative, and to Dr. K. Paul, an immigrant who used his life as a radio beacon between him and God who went anywhere and everywhere to bring aid and assist in the time of heartache.
I was lucky enough to bum a ride, along with Congressmen, reporters from all the major news agencies, doctors, and aide workers that constantly have a bag packed and ready in the closet of their homes for times like this. Like I said, I bummed a ride, so I had no idea or control over where we were going. Our first stop—Abuja, Nigeria during the African Conference. No room on the runway for our plane, so we had to park at the end and hike 45 minutes over blazing tarmac to the gates, which proceeded to lead me into the craziest night of my life, a story meant for another time.
I only reminisce about that time now because we just completed our 10th episode on our podcast Married to a Foreigner (Facebook) here in Korea. My wife and I just had our 5 year anniversary, 10 if you count how long we dated before getting married. If it wasn’t for that tsunami 11 years ago, I’d probably still be sitting on someone’s couch wondering when my life was going to begin, hazy eyed thinking that I’d one day get up and out of America. Instead, I hitchhiked on an NGO plane, set up Jack’s Place, a backpacker’s hotel in Sri Lanka, went to diving school in Thailand, spent 6 months learning to walk again after almost cutting my foot off, made a movie in Japan, lived in a castle in Spain and caravanned around Europe, met my wife in South Korea and spent 10 years teaching English around the world. All because one day, the universe told me to get up off of my ass and care about something other than myself. Earthquakes. Tsunamis. I’m sorry that I didn’t learn to give a damn sooner.