A Wild Journey Begins.
**Disclaimer: This may be a long read to some but i promise the story describes events that signifies the active presence of a Good God that orchestrates this life as we know it. Take the time to read and enjoy the journey. May it bless and encourage your life as it did mine.
It was a Thursday morning, January 11th, 2018. I was excited and hopeful as I came into work because I was looking forward to finally having the meeting with my boss. A meeting that was postponed 3 times earlier that week to discuss my travel plans home to Dubai to get some immigration paperwork done at the US Embassy and visit my family that I had not seen in 3 years.
At 10:30am, I walk into this meeting only to realize that I was given the notice about my termination. I was told, because i was a foreign citizen, i was going to be given 5 weeks of a "leave of absence" to find another job and then it was going to be termination. All decisions were final.
I felt like a freight train slammed into my body going 100mph. I was devastated and confused because I loved my job and place of employment. My worst nightmare had just become the reality. Being a foreign citizen, if i didn't have an active job I would have to leave the country immediately and lose all that all the progress made on the path of being a US citizen one day.
After grieving for 2 days. I owned up, took responsibility and moved on. I leaned on the only person I knew had my side, God, and my community for strength. I learned that there was no benefit in seeking "justice" for things that were out of my control, so why worry about the unchangeable? I gathered myself and just started walking.
My friends surrounded and prayed with me for the Lord’s best. They helped put my "best self" back together. I was incredibly grateful.
The next day I looked for openings online and found out that a few major places were hiring. Thrilled at having opportunities, I decided not wait for the "universe" to come to me, rather, I was gonna get up and get moving toward my Destiny.
After calling a few people that I knew, I started formulating a plan to find myself a job soon.
That evening, I made a plan to take a road trip and show up in person to these places that were hiring and totally trust God to come through for me in the process. I was going to present my best self and experience a lead for what they had to offer and slowly take it from there.
So with a lose plan, I decide to take a road trip from Syracuse>St. Louis>Tulsa>Austin>Victoria>Baton Rouge>Charlotte>DC>NYC>Syracuse
Little did i know I'd travel 5200 miles in 15 days.
This is how that journey unfolded.
Day 1: Monday Jan 13, 2018, 8pm EST.
It wasn't an epic beginning as I would have hoped but in a weird way it was a crazy first leg. I had to drive through a winter storm that spanned from Upstate New York all the way to St. Louis. That was over 750 miles of highway roads. The average speed I was going to be traveling was about 45-55mph which made the first leg of my trip a little longer than anticipated. After leaving Syracuse at 11:30am and driving almost 14 hours, I didn't get into St. Louis until 2am CST.
A long lost pal of mine was kind enough to provide me shelter for the night. Thank you, Daniel Tsubota.
Day 2 - Tuesday January 14, 2018.
The next day, I followed up on a lead, a filmmaker position for a church in town. Getting an interview with them was contingent on another friend getting back to me that afternoon. Sadly, nothing came of it.
After waiting all morning for the call, I decided to keep moving towards Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Tulsa was the next destination for leads to a potential job. A good friend, Tyler Rowland heard my story and offered his place to stay while I was in Tulsa. It was a 6 hour drive from St. Louis but I took the time to think and be grateful for all the relationships that were choosing to be kind to me in my time of need.
Day 3 - Wednesday January 15, 2018
Fingers crossed, I rolled off toward my interviews. It was a good day with good interviews lined up. I had meetings with creative directors from Oral Roberts University and Victory Christian Center.
The job op from ORU was stronger than that from Victory primarily because they were not actively hiring for a filmmaker. The position from ORU was promising but I had to make an educated decision so I asked the director for some time to think about it and let him know after.
On the drive down to Tulsa I noticed that my wheel alignment on my car off. So after going and meeting a few people that morning I decided to go get my car checked before I got back on the road to Texas. With the help from Tyler, I got my car checked and found that my rear shocks on my car were broken. Not the greatest news but at least i knew there was that problem. I asked around and started devising a plan to have it resolved on the journey.
The next solid lead was in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, but the road to get there was through Texas. With the help of Tyler, I sent out my resume to a couple of places in Texas.
Day 4 : Thursday, January 16th, 2018, 8am
I wake to get a call from a friend from college, Charles Shull. He saw my stories on Instagram and wanted to hear about my journey. I told him that i was traveling through Texas and he tells me that his father-in-law lived in Austin! If i needed a place to stay i had it. He also told me that his in-laws attended the church that i had applied to work at, Gateway Austin, for over 15 years. He said that he'd get in touch with him and get back to me soon. Maybe he could try to get a meeting with someone there while i passed through.
Every moment i spent outside of my circumstance, I felt the presence of God that reassured me of His goodness. Every moment I was given the opportunity to Trust Him with the plan.
After grabbing breakfast with some of my favorites, The Retherfords, I got back on the road. I first had to go through Oklahoma City and visit my dear friends Jon and Cady Patterson before heading down toward Austin.
Location: Oklahoma City, Jon and Cady’s apartment
After a good night’s rest, I woke up early and sent some more emails and searched for a repair shop in Austin. 2 of my former colleagues from Bethel Church had moved to Austin and had offered a bed for the night after hearing my story.
To say I am wealthy in incredible relationships would be an understatement.
Day 5: Friday, January 17th, 2018.
It was 6 hour journey to Austin, TX
Next stop : Austin Texas.
We meet again, Ben Jacobs and Tyson Turner. Time: 10pm
We all were tired, but we had a blast catching up on stories from the last 3 years.
Thanks to Ben and his family, i got a place to stay for the night. The next day my car was being checked out at the shop.
Day 6: Saturday January 18th, 2018.
I knew this day was going to cost. Nonetheless, it had to be done.
I took the car into the closest shop and set out to send a few more emails. I made arrangements to meet with Mr. Darcy Sherwood. As I waited for him, I got the report back from the shop.
The news wasn’t good. All 4 of my shocks we busted, and they quoted me with a $2,700 quote to fix and there was no way i could pay that.
After some thought I felt “ok” to do half the job. I agreed to fix the front shocks as it was a FWD car and it was important to be safe for the rest of the journey. I agreed to spend $1573 of my money i did not have, which was a lot..but I had no other choice at that moment.
I was told the car would be ready in 1-2 hours. Surprised by the speed of the repair, I asked if it was okay to go meet the technician who was working on my car and ask some questions. I was curious and wanted to know why it was quick to fix, yet so expensive.
As I got talking to we the technician, I shared that i was on a road from NY and was in town for an interview at Gateway Church the following day.
To my surprise, He told me that he knew the Campus Pastor personally and offered to put in a good word for me. I was overwhelmed by his act of kindness.
As I waited for my car to get done, Darcy Schroder(Charles Shull’s father in law) showed up. He took me to Salt Lick, a fantastic barbecue joint.
He was incredibly kind to treat me to a delicious lunch and give me advise on what to do the next day for my interview. He arranged to have me meet the creative director the next day between services.
After getting my car back, i decided to go check out the church location and sort of get a feel for the church’s campus and offices.
The next day I woke up early and headed to Church. I was looking forward to meeting the creative director of the church.
I attended the first service and went over and met the guy at the sound booth before their second service.
I had a good conversation with Justin Girdler, the Creative Director. We talked about the church, how it founded, and where it is at now. He shared testimonies and really appreciated the journey’s we individually traveled to understand the love of God. It was a great conversation. The biggest thing i learned out of the talk was learning about how that church worked. I learned that they had a good respect for proper work life balance. Exactly something I was looking for.
I bid my farewell, and headed off to see my buddy Carl, who was on his way to meet me downtown.
This journey has been a miracle. A few days ago I lost my job and my future unclear but I wasn’t feeling one bit anxious or scared. It was real the feeling that the Holy Spirit was on my side warring to make sure I walked toward the plan that God had for me.
After spending the afternoon with Carl and his wife Neva, they took me to their home in Victoria, TX.
and let me tell you, they sure do know how to welcome guests.
I slept well and deep that night.
The next morning Carl and I caught some good breakfast and just talked through the events of the last few days.
It was nice to talk to him about the Journey and tell him about how faithful God has been throughout the trip. He helped me think about ways to better position myself to get a job that was worth my portfolio.
Later that day I would be leaving to go to Baton Rouge, where my next interview would be held.
It was a 7 hour journey to Baton Rouge, LA.
Cardiff Booth, another good friend from college gave me his home to stay while I had the interview with Bethany Church the next day.
He had reached out to me a few times back in 2015, but the immigration process going prevented me from considering the offer.
Cardiff had arranged me to meet the creative director, Jamie Zachary for lunch that afternoon.
I woke up the next day, had some breakfast and went for a coffee. My meeting was at 1pm, I decided to scope the place out and get a feel for the place and then go for my meeting.
Around noon, I went to lunch and met Jamie for an initial meeting.
Right away as we made conversation, I felt that knew how to manage his team very well.
After lunch, Jamie introduced me to his team back at the offices.
While i was in Tulsa I got to apply to NewSpring Church in South Carolina. Up till this moment there were solid leads out of Baton Rouge.
I was hoping to hear back from Elevation, NewSpring, a Church in Virginia Beach that I didn’t know and another Church in Florida.
I reached out to Jon Patterson again, to check if he had any leads to getting an interview at NewSpring and unfortunately there were none.
He sends me a text saying that I could try, direct messaging the guy on Twitter. His name was Tadd Tatum. That morning, when I was getting ready to leave for the day, I was annoyed by the fact that I could not log in to my twitter because I had forgotten my password.
After meeting Bethany Creative, I scrolled through my phone to see this email in my inbox.
I was surprised by the timing. With the journey ahead being unclear, the next stepping block had appeared. I was thrilled. I responded and told Tadd that I was on the road and would be swinging by South Carolina the next day if he wanted to have the meeting in person.
Jamie asked me for a last meeting before I took off the next morning at IHOP, and I left Bethany’s Main Offices.
It was a 11-12 hour journey through Atlanta that night. Jon Patterson, called on my way there and told me I could stay at his parent’s ranch that night. It was close enough to New Spring and that would give me a good night’s rest before my meeting with Tadd in the morning.
Thankful to my friend, I was a able to get another night’s sleep.
I met Mr. Tatum the next day and had a good interview. With a lot of things to think about, i got back on the road back to New York again.
I was thankful and overwhelmed for all the doors that opened up to me on this journey. God had been incredibly kind to me. I had a lot to process and pray about to make sure i choose the right job for my next season of life. I knew that good things were ahead of me.
I journeyed on to meet up with my best friend, Benjin Joshua in Virginia.
I always enjoy hanging around him, he always gives me a higher perspective about God and his purpose for mankind. He told me that the word says, the world is imperfect and one of the most imperfect places in this world is “The Church”. He said that even though the people in the church may fail you, it still does not mean that God doesn’t move through them. it doesn’t mean that God doesn’t work through imperfect people for His glory.
On my way out of Virginia, I met some new friends and caught up with some old ones and finally made my way back to Syracuse.
I have to say it was an incredible journey. One that opened my eyes to a lot of things about God and his favor for me.
In the next few weeks, I was offered the right job and a week after, I was moving to Baton Rouge, Louisiana to go work at Bethany Church.