Team 2 is back on the road!
It’s a beautiful evening for driving, as the sun is setting over the tree tops of northern Michigan and we cruise west on US Highway 2. Team 2 is a little under half way through the two thousand and some odd kilometer trip from our home base in Hamilton, ON to the prairie province of Manitoba, where we begin a five week tour through Central Canada.
There are nine of us making this great voyage together. Rachelle, an LiveDifferent (formerly Absolute) road team veteran who joined up with our team for our eastern tour is now back in Hamilton, where she’ll be looking after the dorm (and making sure Team 1 doesn’t make a mess when they get back :P). DJ is pumpin’ tunes from his iPod while he drives and by the rhythms he’s beating on the steering wheel, I’d say it’s a hardcore breakdown. Meagan is reading some Harry Potter; when a new Potter book comes out, I usually lose my wife for a day or two, but luckily she’s already read this one before. Christian is doing some writing; staring with great focus and determination at his laptop monitor. All three students (Bryan, Laura, and Melissa) are acting very studious at the moment, reading this month’s assigned book “Not For Sale” by David Batstone and working on their book reports. Hammer is also staring with great focus and determination at his laptop monitor, but he’s playing a video game, “Diablo” to be precise. And Nicole is not with us, but will be meeting up with us in Winnipeg tomorrow afternoon.
I feel incredibly fortunate to be on this bus right now, to be a part of LiveDifferent (formerly Absolute)’s Think Day tours. I’ve seen small glimpses of the huge impact that our message is having in the lives of students across this country. It’s a message that I believe can resonate with every student who hears it, and not because our teams are stacked with professionally trained speakers or high profile celebrities. Those who have been a part of our tours over the past 9 or so years all share something even more powerful: brokenness, hurt and pain. You see, in a society where those things are considered weakness, we see them as great strength. We have all made mistakes and we have all experienced times of great trial or suffering. While most would much rather burry the scars of their past and put on their best face for the world, we have seen the incredible disarming power of honesty and vulnerability, the healing and hope that can come when brave individuals give up on the masquerade and share their stories. There are seven such brave individuals sitting with me in this bus right now, and I am proud to call them friends.
After four years of travelling with LiveDifferent (formerly Absolute) teams across this beautiful country, I am sad to say that this will be my last tour. Meagan and I will still be involved with LiveDifferent (formerly Absolute), but it’s time to pass on the torch to someone else and settle down (our backs are sore and our hair is either going grey or falling out, not an exaggeration in the least). Night has fallen on Highway 2, but tomorrow brings another day of adventure and purpose for our team. Though you may not be travelling with one of our teams and speaking in front of thousands of Canadian students, I hope that you too will find the strength to share your own story with those around you. You may never know the life and hope that it can bring.
p.s. Here’s a funny moment from our past tour we haven’t told you about yet: Some of the girls on our team really enjoy cooking for our team, so one evening while we were staying in a church, we went grocery shopping to get all the ingredients for Rachelle’s broccoli cheddar soup. While some were making other preparations for the soup, one team member, who will remain anonymous to prevent lifelong harassment, was asked to wash the broccoli. Alright, fine, it was Hammer (sorry dude). Anyway, after washing the nutritiously rich vegetable, Hammer handed it over to be chopped up and added to the soup. When supper was ready, Team 2 gathered in this church kitchen for a delicious meal lovingly prepared by Rachelle and some others. The first number of spoon-fulls were quite good, but within about five minutes of everyone digging in, hesitant whispers began to fill the air. We began taking a closer look at the soup. Small grey flecks that at first glance appeared to be pepper or pieces of the broccoli were now in question. As they came into focus, we began to notice many such flecks, numerous within each team member’s bowl, some very small, some much larger…and then we saw the legs. That was where the meal and appetite ended for most of the team that night, thanks to a special recipe that we now lovingly call BBS (Broccoli Bug Soup). Let me know if you want the recipe!