It’s been quite a year. It was this past May 2014 that I posted for the first time. I haven’t sat down and actually tried to tell you what you mean to me. So here’s an overdue letter to you.
My boss at the time and dear friend Holla (Dan Rundle) had been EH’ing me every day for 8 months. I was too fat and lazy to get up that early. After my condo burned down, I had a bit of an awakening about the brevity of this life and stuff and time. A couple of months later I was ready for F3. In the gloom that morning, I saw the sun rise for the first time in a while. Snowden helped me along and it felt personal, different than those cold and impersonal YMCA bootcamps.
Highlights of being a part of F3
- Shedding a bunch of fat
- Learning what leadership means, and getting to practice it
- Loving to run for the first time in my life
- Meeting quiet men of action, heavy on the “do” and light on the “talk”. (And also meeting guys heavy on the “talk” and the “do” both!).
- Seeing the sun rise every morning – it’s addicting
- Having the energy to be more present in the moment
- Racing with a cinder block at The Crucible for the first time immediately after being paired with Nature Boy
- Trying to keep up with Longbottom on the track at Beastside
- Running in my first ultra marathon in Kathmandu
- Seeing Erector fight through cancer, and encourage us the whole time
In traveling to Israel and then Prague over the summer, I saw more clearly that the world has a leadership vacuum. I decided to sell all my stuff and move to Nepal on nothing but savings. I was born there. It’s the kind of place that calls you back. I had to return. I wanted to see young men in Nepal turn develop into leaders too.
That morning is all a blur, but it would change all of us:
While I was preparing to leave, one July morning after Bestside interval training, we heard the crash. The smoke rising over the trees. We, not knowing what it was…sprinting to our cars to go see. On arrival, seeing the car on fire, flames shooting up 20-30 feet and lighting the tree. Shock. Seeing the boy on the ground, burned from head to toe. Explosions. Helping him to the pickup truck bed. Asking him if there was anyone else in the car. He in shock, Looking, seeing no one. Praying with him. Looking up to see the men reaching into the burning car. Pulling something out…
Two teenage boys lost their lives. Another changed forever. It hit me hard. Could I have done more to save them? I went to one of the funerals, sat silently at a distance, and thought about the brevity of this life and stuff and time.
“You learn more at a funeral than at a feast—
After all, that’s where we’ll end up. We might discover
something from it.” Ecc. 7:2
The calling was reconfirmed.
Getting my bearings in this foreign land, I was starting to lose everything I’d worked for, and decided to launch a little group first week in January. 3 of us showed up. One old white guy and my neighbor and YHC. In Nepal it was harder than I thought it would be. It’s always harder. To say the culture is “different” would the understatement of all time. Middle aged guys don’t really work out. People don’t have showers or good shoes, and most don’t have transportation. The language barrier. Winters are cold. The old white guy never came back. He told me later that he would never be back, that he hated working out on the cold, dirty ground. One week I was the only one who showed up. If you’ve never done that, try it. It will make you thankful for a group. I was starting to wonder if maybe F3 wouldn’t sustain in a place like Nepal.
The guys at Swamp Rabbit were undaunted though, and their cheers were felt on the other side of the world.
Then guys started coming. Slowly, more and more. We needed more days so we started 4 days a week. Now 3 months in, we had 27 last Saturday. It’s been amazing to watch the young guys grow. To see a sense of community develop. Guys come and say things like, “I’ve never seen a group of young men like this who care about others so much.” And the morning walkers have never seen anything like it on the campus where we meet. Giving a thumbs up while we pick up trash.
Oh, and in Nepal I started dating my good friend Leah and we’re getting married in May. I’ll be returning to the States in 2 days to prepare for the wedding.
From working out in the gloom every morning, to picking up trash every Saturday to supporting International Women’s Day, doing a prayer hike, running kid’s clubs every week, and volunteering for the fundraiser concert, it has been an incredible pleasure to serve with my Nepali brothers. We’ve studied English together in the mornings, me learning Nepali, and fellowshipping over Chia.
When we show up, when we root for each other, it’s amazing how it changes our lives. After all, this life and stuff and time is fleeting fast.
I love you guys.