People keep asking us how this all came about. So this post will tell the story of how we came to the place where we sold almost everything we owned and "uprooted" our family and moved them overseas.
In 2004, Becky and I embarked on The Learning Journey where we spent 6 months in South Africa and 6 months in Kazakhstan. We were scheduled to be in Thailand in December of '04 and then Japan after that. However, God closed doors in both those countries and we returned home ahead of schedule. That's when the tsunami hit Thailand and chances are we would have been there on the beach when the tsunami hit. One of the many goals of The Learning Journey was to find a calling, a country or mission to join. What we found was that it wasn't the right time for us and we didn't know why. We just felt God wanted us to be here in the US for a time.
For the time from early 2005 (when we returned from The Learning Journey) to late 2013 when our house was agreed to be purchased we felt "not released" from the US. We didn't know what our call was here, so we picked up jobs and beganfollowing the traditional American script (own a house, have kids, stay put, be near family, grow your career, etc)
We had been longing to move for a couple years but in 2012 things got serious for us. Theproblem was that our house was the family homestead, selling it to a stranger would put a sore spot with the family, not to mention the logistics as the house separates the barn and the parent's house.
In late 2013, God opened the door by selling our house. Becky's brother, Mike, agreed to sell his house and buy ours.
That put us in a position of freedom again and we started looking to move closer to Grand Rapids. It's where we have a good network (business and friends). Although we looked at many houses, God continued to close doors.
So we started thinking, what if we move to another city and build our network there to increase our business. We started researching costs of living in various US cities. The more we researched the more we realized there was no other US cities our hearts were leaning towards.
During that time I had joined a community of location independant entrepreneurs who pointed me to a blog post about places in the world with cheap cost of living and great internet access. Since I only need an internet connection for my business and we homeschool our kids we realized we had freedom to move overseas. Starting with that list and people we know in these countries we mapped out a possible trip.
Further research helped us solidify what cities we wanted to land in and how long we wanted to spend in each place. We see this 9 month trip (we'll be back to celebrate Christmas) as an exploratory trip helping us to know if our kids respond well to travel as a lifestyle or to a specific living environment/country. Another goal is to find a place where our family desires to settle if we so choose.
We've made lots of preparations and now we're waiting for the last puzzle pieces to be put in place for us to leave. (Those include the birth of a new niece or nephew due soon and the house transactions to be completed)
We ran a moving sale last weekend to be prepared instead of trying to sell everything last minute.