Life is just funny sometimes, and our Joshua has always brought the funny into our lives, so we’re finding it fitting that we’re getting a chuckle out of how his plans are unfolding. It’s a story worth telling, and we’d also appreciate some prayers for his next steps, so we’re sharing the chuckle with you all. Enjoy. Since he was little Joshua has never had one big dream idea of what he wanted to be when he grew up, he’s always had many: a chef (he’s always been my best kitchen helper), a lawyer (get paid to argue!), a ninja assassin, a Myth Buster (if you don’t know of this TV show, get on YouTube and find out), some sort of scientist with a fancy sounding name and a doctorate (so he can be called Dr., and to impress others with his title), professional video game player/tester (I think this is his generation’s ‘Rock Star’ or ‘Pro Baseball Player’ of past generations), Air Force drone pilot (like a video game, only not), etc… People would ask my kids what they wanted to be when they grew up and Josiah would answer Architect and later, work for Disney while Danny would answer with something related to horses, but Joshua’s answer was never concrete and never short. So we were not surprised as he neared the end of High School and had not narrowed his field of interest down much, though he did often say, ‘something in the sciences’, but he was the first to admit that was still not narrowed down at all, really.
When Joshua was in 6th or 7th grade his dad and I lead a Financial Peace University course by Dave Ramsey at our church in Colorado, and our boys were our sound/media dudes, running the DVD’s, and thus, watching them all too. Sitting through those sessions made a huge impact on young Joshi, and he’s taken those lessons to heart – his ability to save is legendary, and he’s been very vocal against any sort of debt, especially college loans. And then we had a close family member who went through a rough season and fell behind on their college loans, while also not having finished college, and it was all brought home again how evil such things are. Joshua was the first of our kids to look at the military, and while the pageantry and technology of the Air Force attracted him, having college paid for was possibly an even higher incentive. We encouraged him to just start in school and shared stories of friends and others who figured out their major as they went along – but Joshi was especially hesitant to take out a loan without an end goal in sight, and we had to respect that.
Our move had also turned our kids into Third Culture Kids, and we knew that they can often need more time to sort out life and their place in it, and so Joshua’s plan of a Gap Year made a lot of sense. We encouraged him to make some plans beyond just ‘going back to Colorado and working’ while ‘figuring out what I want to do’, many options were discussed including various missions/youth programs including some specifically for Gap Years. But without seeming obstinate or thick headed Joshua still managed to be just those things and stuck to his simple plan of just living in Colorado and working. We think he got bored fairly quickly, certainly by Christmas time when our family gathered in California at my Grandma’s house. It was a conversation with my brother Noah, who is staff at a YWAM base in Salem, Oregon, that finally pushed Joshua to look into doing a YWAM DTS, or Discipleship Training School – something we’d suggested many, many times – but we’re not cool Uncle Noah. YWAM had a new niche DTS that began just last year, with the theme of reaching into the Gamers world, and Joshi felt he’d found a DTS he could embrace. There were two YWAM bases with this program, one in Florida and one in Germany – it was curious for us to see Joshua naturally gravitate toward the one back in Europe. At first Joshua began talking of doing the DTS in the spring of 2017, as he didn’t see how he’d be able to save that much money by this spring at his job at Panera. We encouraged him to apply for the one this year, and pointed out that he could ask for financial help from friends and family as it’s a church/missions outreach, something he’d really never considered, bless his heart. We also offered to buy his plane ticket, we were that excited he was doing something and didn’t want to see the momentum for it slowed down. And so, he sent in his application, got accepted and began to take all the extra hours at work he could, while also doing some fund raising. We saw the time he’d spend in the DTS, in any DTS or missions program, as much more beneficial to ‘figuring out’ his life than staying at home in Colorado, working at Panera and hanging out with friends – we began to pray for God to lead our boy this spring and summer, to guide him during that time and hopefully help him narrow his focus a bit onto something he could pursue and move toward in his life.
And then, two weeks before the course began, and just one week before his flight to Europe (we got his tickets in and out of Budapest, with a family visit tacked onto each end of his trip) Joshua received an email from YWAM that his DTS had been canceled due to staffing issues. An email like that would have devastated either of his siblings, but Joshua took it in stride – and began to talk about what else he might be able to do while in Europe for the spring and summer. YWAM did offer a few suggestions to other DTS schools in Germany, but he’d been really only excited about that Gamers one and so fairly quickly ruled out another DTS….but then what instead? Facebook is the great worldwide announcement sharer, and just that week a mutual friend we all shared had been talking about what she’d be doing that summer, and had shared a link – for Summer of Service, a program we’re very familiar with, it’s serving as staff at the Christian Conference Center we go to each summer in Austria, and where Norbert and I met. We have many friends and kids of friends who have done a Summer of Service, and we’d actually been trying for years, unsuccessfully, to get any of our kids to be a part of it. Joshua had especially balked at the ‘Service’ part of the deal, the work. So it was a huge pleasant surprise to hear him saying maybe he’d look into that…which lead to him discovering that the deadline for applying was that very week, “That sure seems like God’s hand in the timing, huh?”. And so he applied, and got accepted, to work in Summer of Service from the end of May through mid-August – all this he knew within a week of getting that unsettling email from YWAM changing his plans.
But Joshua arrived in Hungary at the very end of March, what would he do for two months until S.o.S began? Joshua has always taken his middle child role seriously, and with two other siblings around was always very good as doing only the minimum of work necessary – we’d never seen this as much of a career plus until a friend in Engineering mentioned how this would fit brilliantly into her field, as Joshi is the kind of person to get something done with the least amount of effort – where we saw lazy and charming his way out of things, she saw efficiency and delegation. Joshua has always been helpful when asked, but has never sought out work – so it was amazing to watch him actually seek out and be open to many options to fill his time. He contacted and met with the leader of the YWAM base here in Budapest, and he was graciously offered to take part in the outreach phase of another DTS who were just arriving in Budapest after several months training – it was an amazing offer, but Joshua decided it would be too weird to jump in with a group who had been working and learning together as a team for months already. It was an email response from the principal at his old school that finally led to what Joshi has been doing daily for some weeks now – assisting teachers. He heads out to ICSB every afternoon and helps in the 6th and 8th grade math classes and for the 8th grade gym class.
And then our dinner conversations began to get interesting, as Joshi would talk about the classes, or the gym teacher Mr. Anderson. The job of teaching was discussed in general, the perks of having holidays and all summer off, the ability to get jobs in international schools all over the world. One day last week Danny stayed at a friend’s near school for dinner, coming home later in the day, and so it was just Joshua with us at dinner, and talk turned to colleges, going for science again, but this time, it was also brought up that he might like to teach science, or gym. Suddenly we were talking seriously about his applying someplace this spring, now, for next school year. Living in Hungary for four years certainly left a mark on Joshua, more than he would admit to just a year ago – but his time back in the US seemed to highlight it. He doesn’t like driving, he found a job he could walk to, and our house in Colorado is near enough to a shopping district that he really didn’t need to drive anywhere. And so in the talk about college, he brought up wanting to be able to walk to a school, and we actually spent a day looking at the possibility of schools here in Budapest. There are schools here that have full programs in English and we did much online searching – but the ones in English are mostly Business, Arts/Media and Medical, none of which interested Joshua. So what could he walk to from our house in Colorado? There are three schools nearby – the Broadcast/Media school that Josiah attended, a Beauty school that often offers passersby free haircuts, and Colorado Christian University. We checked online and CCU offers teaching degrees, and have science majors, and then, before we’d even really processed all these changes in our son, he was filling out the application form and pointing out excitedly that they have a deal right now that if you submit an application before April 30th they waive the application fee.
Joshua has not been here a month, and has only been a Teacher’s Assistant at ICSB for three weeks, but as of now, he’s only waiting to hear back on a technical question and will then be submitting an application to attend CCU this fall. We have no idea yet what financial aid will tell us, but after the way this has all happened, we’re not really worried. I’m chuckling daily at how the decisions just sort of happened, with no convincing, or even really deep pondering – Joshua is still not 100% sure he wants to be a teacher, or what kind of teacher, but he is prepared to pursue it and see what happens. And we laugh as we were waiting for God to speak and guide Joshi through the DTS, and then over the summer in Austria, and here, it all happened within weeks of arriving back home, simply by helping out at ICSB to kill time until Summer of Service began, that he was only doing because the DTS got canceled. And it was a DTS he only wanted to do because it was a Gamers DTS, which was suggested by an uncle to a bored kid. We can’t stop finding it all so very comical, God has an awesome sense of humor, and yeah, life is just funny sometimes.