Tag Archives: Community

The “bittersweetness” of finding community while on the road

We never realized how much we missed the “community” feeling that living in the same area can bring, until it wasn’t there.   Having the familiar to lean back on is one thing that can be easily taken for granted, and living in the unfamiliar can shine a light on that.

Photo credit: Pinterest

Photo credit: Pinterest

We never know exactly what to expect when we get to a new place, even with all of the research we do before hand.   Most of my work assignments have only been 2-3 months, which limits the time to build any kind of lasting relationship with anyone.  However, this time we landed for 5 months.  And finally, after a year on the road, we found that feeling of community in Roseburg, Oregon!

(I have wrote in the past about some of these feelings of community and how we try to find ways to attain them while on the road:

http://satisfyingourwanderlust.com/fostering-a-sense-of-community/)

I’ve thought a lot about what has made this place different from all of the others, and why it was so easy to gain that community feeling.  Reflecting over our time spent here these past few months brings to mind several memories; most of which, involve the many lovely people we’ve met and now call friends.   During this time, I noticed a few differences in how we spent our time in this community compared to the past places we’ve called home.

1. Community Involvement

This has been the biggest difference since being in Roseburg.  We were lucky enough to live only 6 miles from a YMCA and had the luxury of a bike lane along the entire route.  We took advantage of many aspects of the local Y.  Community and member family swims, child watch for the kids during workouts (which Amelia loved), enrolled Griffin in 2-day per week preschool, and Itty Bitty soccer and basketball for Griffin.  These many trips to the Y allowed us to run into several of the same families!  One of these families have left a lasting impression on us and we will cherish the time we got to spend with them.  The Smith family will be lifelong friends.  We were able to share many adventures with them and their two kids; trip to the safari park, ride through the Festival of Lights, couples date, exchanging babysitting services, birthday celebrations, girl’s night out, and play dates with the kids!

Fun at the Safari park with the Smith family!

Fun at the Safari park with the Smith family!

Beautiful couple

Beautiful couple

Boys and their Legos

Boys and their Legos

BFF's

BFF’s

Photo credit: Pinterest

Photo credit: Pinterest

2. Church Family

One of the most challenging things about a new place, is finding a church to call home for the short period we’re there.  The kids and I are regular attenders of a Sunday fellowship, which gives our non-churched stay at home dad/husband a chance to relax without interruptions from the little people.  We feel fortunate to have stumbled into Wellspring Bible Fellowship early in our stay and felt welcomed by everyone.   We found a good fit amongst some great and loving people.  Sunday school, a weekly small group, caroling at local nursing facilities, Christmas drama, and a New Year’s Eve party were a few of the activities we were involved in with our Wellspring friends.

Photo credit: Pinterest

Photo credit: Pinterest

Photo credit: Pinterest

Photo credit: Pinterest

3. Togetherness in light of tragedy

On October 1st, an event happened in Roseburg that has forever changed this community and affected so many lives.  I have never been so near to or made aware daily of such tragedy.  The mass school shooting at Umpqua Community College definitely added to a closeness within the community.  It is unfortunate that it seemed to take such a tragedy to bring people together regardless of their differences.  The support that the people of Roseburg provided to everyone in the community was heart warming.  There were multiple events and fundraisers and nearly every business that had a marque, showed their support.  #UCCStrong #RoseburgStrong #IAmAChristian

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Looking forward to the next adventure, while having to leave our new friends behind is what makes finding a community on the road so bittersweet!

Photo credit: Pinterest

Photo credit: Pinterest

Fostering a sense of community

Most of you know about the journey we are currently taking as a family of four traveling in our RV.  Before leaving, we thought a lot about the things we wanted to gain from traveling.  One of the topics that always seemed to come up was giving back.  We really wanted to immerse ourselves in the communities that we were visiting and search for ways to contribute.

Photo credit: Pinterest

Photo credit: Pinterest

Even though our kids are only toddlers, we have a strong desire to foster in them a feeling of compassion and empathy toward others as well as cultural sensitivity.  One of the ways we were hoping to do this was through various volunteer opportunities.

These opportunities where much easier to find in the communities we grew up in, where as, life on the road has made it more difficult.  My first two jobs took us to small, rural towns in Texas with fewer resources, making it harder to find volunteer opportunities.  We had the chance to take some time off between work assignments, which lead us to a much bigger city in Texas…Austin.  Tim and I had heard from several people that, “you do not want to go to Austin, they’re weird there.”  Believe it or not, we actually fit in with weird right now.  And after researching Austin, we knew we had to make the trip.

Many Austin locals don this shirt.  Photo credit: Pinterest

Many Austin locals don this shirt. Photo credit: Pinterest

One thing that drew us to this fantastic city was how different it was from nearly all of the rest of Texas.  It seemed to be a city on the forefront of the “Go Green” movement, with multiple levels of promoting sustainability and providing ways to encourage the environmentally conscious person.

Photo credit: my photo edited in photo grid app

Photo credit: my photo edited in photo grid app

While researching volunteer opportunities, we stumbled across this great organization, Keep Austin Beautiful (www.keepaustinbeautiful.org).  We happened to be in Austin during their Clean Sweep event, where the Austin community comes together to clean-up multiple locations throughout the city.  According to their website, the event had 4,200 volunteers contributing 8,300 hours of service to remove 27 tons of trash from the city.

Helping out at the KAB Clean Sweep!  We helped clean at the Texas River School.

Helping out at the KAB Clean Sweep! We helped clean at the Texas River School.

After a lot of kid-centered volunteer research, we found an organization called Little Helping Hands (www.littlehelpinghands.org), which focuses on community service opportunities for children.  We participated in a “garden day” at a local church’s community garden, where they have volunteers come and manage small garden plots, and then harvest their goods for a local food pantry.

Planting beans.

Planting beans.

Working hard at Garden Day!

Working hard at Garden Day!

Through Little Helping Hands, we were also able to help out another worthwhile Austin organization, Meals on Wheels and More (www.mealsonwheelsandmore.org).  The kids made cards for the five clients we were delivering meals to that day.  Griff was eager to help deliver the meals along our route.  It was so neat to see the interaction between Griff and the people we were serving meals to, he is coming out of his shell more and more every day!

Proud of his card!

Proud of his card!

Our time off also gave Tim a break from his role as stay-at-home-dad, which he had been embracing over the last four months.  He was able to spend Tuesday and Thursday mornings volunteering at Urban Roots (www.urbanrootsatx.org), which is an amazing organization that helps to empower youth as leaders, and hopes to instill in them a love of vegetables and an appreciation for the earth along the way.

The 4 acre garden at Urban Roots

The 4 acre garden at Urban Roots

Over Easter weekend we were lucky enough to be able to witness an unconventional Easter church service.  This church happily and humbly takes their role of “being the hands and feet of Jesus,” to literally serve their homeless brothers and sisters.  It was a moving experience to be part of an event that served meals and shoes to hundreds of Austin’s homeless.

We were first introduced to this church via my “obsession” with Jen Hatmaker (check her out on Facebook) and how much respect I have for her books “Interrupted” and “7”!  She and her husband, along with their friends, planted the Austin New Church (www.austinnewchurch.org), and how they do church is inspiring.

ANC church service and music under the 6th Street bridge in Austin

ANC church service and music under the 6th Street bridge in Austin

Serving our homeless brothers and sisters with food donated from Hatcreek Burgers and donated shoes.

Serving our homeless brothers and sisters with food donated from Hatcreek Burgers and donated shoes.

These were just some of the ways we were able to give back while in Austin.  During our travels, we have lost that secure feeling of a community, and volunteering is one way we feel we can gain that sense of community while on the road.

I would highly encourage you to find various ways you can make a difference in your “community”, no matter where you are.

Photo credit: my photo edited with photo grid app.

Photo credit: my photo edited with photo grid app.