2 / The Beginning

The idea kicks into gear

I had three years to prepare. Like all good procrastinators I left the real preparation to the last 6 months (or less) before departure.

In the run up, during months six, five and four that proceeded my epiphany on the back patio, I spent a lot of time pondering the journey. (I must have a clear vision before I can embark on anything with determination.) In reality, at this point I was only daydreaming without much substantive thinking. I’d sit at my computer and map out locations in the world I wanted to go. I bought a book on the one hundred places you must see before you die. I built a wish list– so many places! I pondered where to head first and finally I decided to complete my travels through North America before I visited anywhere else.

In March, three months before departure, I had the moment of epiphany. It was a stroke of genius that came from nowhere. I wanted to do something for charity. My church– Miami Shores Presbyterian Church (MSPC) was the only starting point I had in regards to charities, but it was one that excited me. I’d be very happy to give back to God and people that had shown me so much acceptance and love.

There was one obvious person at MSPC to approach with the idea, a person full of zest for life and a sense of fun. I typed up six-page a business plan of sorts. The plan described the idea– one person riding their motorcycle from Miami to the Arctic Circle and back on an interactive fundraising journey, for four months and approximately fifteen thousand miles.

One Sunday morning I packaged up the business plan in an envelope and headed to church. It was Lent. A small group was gathering to read and discuss a book called “The Promise Effect” by Dr. Bruce Main. Our young, twenty-six year-old Associate Pastor, Hallie Hottle, led the group. Hallie announced we’d begin the day’s meeting with each of us relating what good and bad things had happened to us during the past week. I told the group that I had had an idea for the past three years and in the past week I’d finally had a vision of how it could all work. I didn’t elaborate. There were some quizzical looks. Hallie looked at me and said, “Hopefully it’s an idea that raises money for the church, because we need some.” My heart leapt. “Yes, something like that,” I grinned.

The group meeting ended. On the way out I told Hallie that I had a crazy idea. “I have an envelope in my car,” I told her. Would Hallie mind if I gave her my idea to read over?

“Sure,” she said, looking rather skeptical.

I retrieved the envelope with excitement and bounded up the staircase to Hallie’s office. I slid the envelope under her closed and locked office door.

In my mind so much rested on Hallie liking my idea. If Hallie rejected my idea as not viable I wasn’t sure to whom I would turn to next.

I hoped and I waited in anticipation for Hallie’s reaction.

I didn’t hear back from Hallie for a couple of days. Finally, I couldn’t wait any longer. I reached out: “What do you think?” I asked.

Hallie told me she thought it was a brilliant idea. “Why don’t you come into my office this week and we can talk.”

Later that week Hallie and I sat in her office at MSPC. Hallie asked questions. I explained the idea. Initially Hallie was under the impression my idea involved Hallie riding a motorcycle to the Arctic Circle, which was a thought that terrified her. She breathed a sigh of relief when she learned that I would be riding the motorcycle, not Hallie. Once the misunderstanding had been cleared up Hallie thought the idea that we could raise money for the church through interactively asking me to do things on my journey was a fantastic idea. We were both thrilled with the thought of being involved in something just a little crazy and exciting that would ultimately do some good.

“We should go and tell Dudley and see what he says,” Hallie said. My heart dropped just a little because I knew that MSPC’s seventy-two year old Reverend Dudley as Head of Staff would have the ultimate say whether or not the idea could go ahead, and whether or not it should be presented to the church Elders to be officially accepted as an idea to pursue. Reverend Dudley, a gentle and quiet man was hurdle number two.

Within minutes Hallie and I were sitting on the couch in Reverend Dudley’s office. Hallie exclaimed with some delight, “Andrew has a crazy idea!” We explained. There were plenty of laughs, smiles and excitement. Reverend Dudley looked at me, paused, and then said, “In all my forty years as a Pastor I’ve never heard anything quite like it! It’s a wonderful idea!” I was completely and very pleasantly surprised.

The wheels were set in motion from that moment on.

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By Andrew Hayward Smith © 2015 All Rights Reserved. Copyright Andrew Hayward Smith. No part of this manuscript may be reproduced without the author’s written consent.