Homeless Dignity Project: WR America launches homeless

Hello all,

We hope this note finds you doing well. It’s been an action-packed and wonderful first few weeks of 2019 for the Haverherd.

We have found ourselves traveling alongside some amazing people. People who love authentically, have experienced heartache, and understand that good intentions don’t always deliver expected results. They are humble and open to learning. They serve and care for the people they meet, in a way that looks a lot like Jesus. We have enjoyed our time riding alongside the team of alumni World Racers (the trip we went on back in 2009) as they pioneer a similar initiative across the US this year called World Race America.

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The alumni team of nine launched from Gainsville, GA on January 12, driving to Asheville, NC where they lived the first week in a homeless shelter. To say we had some initial concerns about impersonating homelessness would have been an understatement. We wanted to make sure, first and foremost, that no one who would otherwise be sleeping out on the street, was displaced by any of our team members. We wondered whether the team would be accepted within the homeless community.

Our cautious concerns were met with open communication and care. The way this team and the residents at Western Carolina Rescue Mission connected immediately and authentically was incredible. Those in the shelter welcomed each of us, shared their stories, listened to ours and expressed heartfelt generosity in a way that I find difficult to articulate.

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If I previously believed that I had some concept of what life on the street is like, I have been sadly deceiving myself. This past week I have been able to sit with and listen to so many human beings. Our family slept in our camper, which we parked just outside the shelter. We spent daylight hours eating meals with the residents, having real conversations and just doing life together. At the same time, the team fully entered into the 24-hour experience of those who otherwise, would not have a place to lay their head at night.

The WR America team members did an amazing job of consistently confirming with management at the shelter that they were not taking a bed from someone else in need. Their intentionality to let go of any ‘privilege’ they possessed which wasn’t afforded to any other resident of the shelter was both honorable and humbling. Team members followed the same schedule as any other person who needed a place to sleep for the night. Each day this included:

Lights on at 5am, shower then chores before breakfast was served at 6am. Everyone was required to be out of the shelter by 6:45 each morning and back out into the open air, with temperatures typically hovering in the mid 30’s. They would then walk around the streets for about 90 minutes to stay warm until a nearby day shelter would open up providing coffee, a roof from the rain/snow, 4 walls from the cold and some dignity. After lunch, there was a women’s devotional before everyone would be back out onto the streets until the doors were opened back up for dinner at 4:30pm. After that meal there was a prayer service, then chores at 7pm before an open hour of free time before lights were turned off at 9pm sharp. Following an often restless night of sleep, the entire process would start over again at 5am.

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In conversations with a few folks on the street, we discovered that there were a select number of people who very deliberately chose not to stay overnight at WCRM. While many of the longer term residents have certainly become accustomed to, and many deeply appreciate, the rules that have been created here, for others without homes, their preference was to live outside of this structure (random breathalyzers, drug tests, etc.) and spend nights out on their own.

Once the team was in the shelter for the night, I found myself driving around the streets of Asheville, in search of anyone who may be in need of help. On Thursday night, I came across two young men in just that place. After I moved Toby’s car seat into the trunk, Jim and Tom placed their bags in the car and buckled their seat belts. I asked the guys if they were from Asheville originally and how they were doing. Jim was open to sharing how he had traveled to NC from California for a job that fell through while Tom stayed quiet in the back seat.

I drove the pair across town to the VA shelter, which I hoped would accept a couple of last minute arrivals. After being turned away, I asked the guys if I could purchase them a room for the night at a motel next door. Jim nodded his head in acceptance as he thanked me.

The guys stepped out of the car for a smoke while I entered the building. As I reached for my wallet I realized that it wasn’t in its normal back-left-pocket resting place. I returned to the car and searched the glove box to no avail. With my head hanging down, I asked the guys if they could wait a few minutes for me to drive back to the camper to retrieve it.

As I pulled back into the motel parking lot I could see the surprise on Jim’s face as if there was no chance that I would be returning. The three of us walked in together as I explained to the receptionist that I wanted to purchase a room for the night. After paying the bill, we started walking toward the exit as Tom held the door for me and Jim. As I walked past, Tom spoke up for the first time in an abrasive voice “Tell me your name”. After my hesitant reply, he barked back again, “No, I want your last name.” I paused just long enough for him to open his mouth one final time, “I need to send you a check for this man.”

I reached my hand up onto his shoulder, as we looked each other square in the eyes,

“You’re good Tom. God is good.”

He wrapped both arms around me and leaned in without saying another word.

I’m convinced that we all still have so much to learn. About others. About life. About who He is.

 

Pursuing the Heart of True Adventure

Hello Friends,  Happiest holidays, Solstice, and New Year to each of you.  Sometimes, it’s hard to express and explain ourselves and our lifestyle on our own.  Recently, Jeff Powell of Fresh Paths approached us about featuring us on their blog.  He was able to eloquently and clearly share about our lifestyle.  We are so grateful and wanted to share the article with you all.

Without further ado,  here is a repost of the article.  Hugs to you all!

The Haverherd: Pursuing Adventure as a Family in Their Home on Wheels

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For me, the thought of packing up and heading out in an RV to experience adventure sounds captivating, but this is exactly what this family has done. Meet the Haverkos family, also known as the “Haverherd.” (Check them out on Instagram @thehaverherd.) This family with three little boys is living out an adventure that has brought them closer together as a couple and a family. Want to know what this adventure has been like? Just read Bex Haverkos’s words for yourself:
“We have felt the mist from dozens of waterfalls from coast to coast, dry camped at an island 60 miles west of Key West, witnessed a meteor shower from Cabot Trails, viewed sunsets that seem to stop time, ridden horses in western Texas, snowboarded in Steamboat, Colorado, surfed in Samara, Costa Rica, sandboarded at Great Sand Dunes National Park, slept out with the Sequoias in California and eaten ice cream of almost every imaginable flavor in North America. To have experienced so much on this earth, the word grateful is an understatement.”
How did this family begin such a journey? Bex explains, ” We began planning for our camper journey, as we like to call it, in 2015 when I was pregnant with our 3rd son, Tobias. At that time, I was at home with our other two boys and my husband was working 60+ hours a week running his financial services company.”
Soon after this, the company was sold, and life on the road began, but it wasn’t their first experience with adventure. It really began for Bex and her husband, Daniel, back in 2009 when they both participated in the World Race through Adventures in Missions. Through this experience, they lived out of a backpack on $14 a day as they travelled and ministered through 11 different countries spending a month in each. Their participation in the World Race gave their families and friends a hint that they were, in her words, “a little different.”
Even though The Haverkoses had a reputation for being willing to take chances, it was a surprise that they began planning their journey while they had two small boys and another on the way. That is, however, exactly what they did. But they didn’t undertake this move without a great deal of planning.
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Bex says, “As we planned for our camper journey, we spent a lot of time researching and then searching for an SUV/Truck that could tow an RV big enough to house three kids. Then we started looking for a camper. We had a very small budget for both of these items.”
Even though many people think that only the wealthy take off and do something like this, Bex says that is not true. “It’s kind of funny because, in generations past, this lifestyle would have been associated with people who were looking for work. We are not rich. We aren’t poor either.”
In fact, they have planned for this for quite a while. “We live a cost-conscious lifestyle and saved for years before embarking on this journey. We are in a good financial position, but we need to budget effectively and find creative ways to economically enjoy the things in life that we love the most.”
With the preparations in place, they got their show on the road over a year ago. “We moved into our Airstream in July 2017 after my husband sold his financial services company in Maryland. Since that time, we have journeyed all over the US, Canada, and Central America. As we travel, I run a small, online yoga business. The aim of my practice is to create a connected and accessible community where people can come to learn or enhance their yoga and meditation practices in a judgment-free zone.”
In addition to running her business and raising their boys, Bex and family have been to some amazing places and seen some beautiful things while they have been travelling. “We love visiting national parks and exploring rural areas. Maine, Costa Rica, Banff (Alberta, Canada), Vermont, Nova Scotia, and Colorado, have been our favorite locations so far. We also loved our time in Montana where our sons did two weeks of summer camp. It was also the first place complete strangers invited us over for dinner.”
For some people, the idea of travelling in an RV filled with five people might not seem like such a good idea, but the Haverkoses are not only surviving this experience, they are thriving. “Daniel and I are the weird kind of people who are better together than we are apart. We joke that we could be each others’ backpacks and never tire of one another,” explains Bex.
It isn’t only their relationship as a couple that has been positively affected, but also their relationship with their three boys. “Our relationship with our kids is very strong and seems to be growing by the minute as we continue life as we know it in our 200-square-foot ‘home on wheels,” as the boys like to call it.”
“One of the unique benefits of living this lifestyle is that there is no room for conflict avoidance,” she continues. “We are all forced to learn how to communicate more effectively and seek forgiveness when we make mistakes. As our oldest son’s former kindergarten teacher used to say ‘In this classroom, we make mistakes every day.’ All five members of our family have humbly taken on that mantra. On a humorous side note, I personally do not thrive with a lot of noise, so it’s an on-going joke with friends and family about how much time I spend wearing noise-cancelling headphones.”
The benefits of this journey have reached beyond just the here and now for their children, and the Haverkoses believe that their children will experience long-term positive impacts from this lifestyle.
“We hope and believe that this experience is providing each of our kids with a much greater perspective on the world. We have seen so many places, but more importantly, met so many people, that provides an opportunity to view different ways of life.”
The Haverkos have also taken the opportunity to enrich the lives of others. “We’ve also done a lot of work serving the homeless around the country, and the boys seem to be recognizing that there are a lot of people who are down on their luck.”
Overall, this lifestyle is building a stronger family with more empathetic children. “We feel that the camper journey experience is growing the bonds of our family tighter and strengthening our relationships. We think that the boys have become more patient human beings that value experiences over stuff. And lastly, we hope that more family time outdoors, as opposed to individual time in front of a screen, will give them a healthy foundation that will last a lifetime. “
With all the new and exciting things to do and see, there isn’t really a “typical day” for the family because they like to be able to respond to whatever opportunities arise. “We have had a lot of fun homeschooling the boys, Matthew in grade 2 and Josiah in Pre-K. They each have accumulated more than 50 Jr. Ranger badges from various national parks and get to see, touch and experience things that most kids read a line about in a textbook.”
Though the family loves what they are doing, there are some challenges.
“The biggest challenge is having space to be adults. While having two ‘stay-at-home parents’ should provide plenty of back up in the daily shenanigans that the boys get themselves into, it can limit our time together to just be husband and wife.”
There has also been a bit of learning curve to help them thrive as they learn how to deal with mechanical operations and issues. Another challenge has been learning how to thrive in relationships outside of the immediate family, “We are just starting to realize in year two on the road, that, while relationships within our family have been strengthened, it’s been hard to not have our normal friends and extended family around as much as we did in a non-mobile lifestyle. While video calls and technology make things a lot easier to connect with people, we find that it’s not the same as sitting down with someone face to face.”
In spite of a few things that they are learning from, the Haverkoses were surprised that they were actually able to live this type of lifestyle though they realize they are very much living counter-culturally. “While the world seems to continue the steady push for bigger, faster, more, we’ve found that smaller, slower and simpler has some incredible perks. We’ve also been very pleasantly surprised at how willingly friends and family all over the country have modified their schedules to spend good old fashion quality time with us. That has truly warmed our hearts.”
In year two of their trip, the family is not ready to wind down this adventure. “We have another year or so planned out in our Airstream, and we would absolutely do it all again in an instant. Daniel and I thrive in this type of environment, but we feel strongly that we need to settle down as the kids get older. We just aren’t sure exactly where that is supposed to be yet. We really want to find a place where people don’t take themselves too seriously, can make time for the important things, and try to put the good of others ahead of their own. Daniel and I talk all the time about when the boys are off to college we will pick back up with this lifestyle and maybe even expand it over to Europe or other parts of the world.”
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Bex believes that others should pursue their passions and recognize the role that fear often has in how we live our lives. “In the US, we are often driven by fear,” she says. “We are told that the world is scary and will hurt us. I hate to think that people are making their life choices based on these unfounded fears. However, I absolutely understand the impact fear can have on us. Just 15 months before we left for our trip, I had such debilitating anxiety that sometimes it was hard to leave the house for a play date or even to go to the library. All that to say, I advise people to build a life intentionally that they are passionate about.”
Want to know more about what they are doing and how they are doing it? Reach out to them. They’d love to hear from you!
“We love to authentically connect with people. Please reach out to us to talk or hang out! We have met new people all over the country and have found some of the most incredible connections.”
Don’t forget to check them out on Instagram @thehaverherd!!!

THE MOST CUTE BABY SEA TURTLES EVER IN THE WHOLE WORLD

Hi my name is Matthew and I am writing from Florida. I did many things at the turtle hospital including these:

  • Feeding Tortuga the turtle
  • Seeing the super cute baby sea turtles swimming
  • Watching vets saving turtles and releasing them into the wild and rehabilitating turtles from boat and fishing line injuries.

I learned that some baby turtles couldn’t find their way from their nest to the water because of light pollution. The babies waddle on the sand towards the moonlight but sometimes flashing lights can confuse them.

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Lots of turtles can get hurt. Shark and other predators can wound or kill them. Also, chemicals in the ocean or boats can ride super fast and hit the turtle’s shell and can give them something called bubble bud. This means that a bubble can form in the shell making the turtle not able to swim under the surface of the water to find food. The vets can put weights on the turtle’s shell to help them swim deeper. Some turtles get mixed up and think that plastic bags are jellyfish and eat them. The plastic won’t come through their body making them not get hungry and they can starve.

Please be careful when you fish, drive boats slowly and be sure to recycle everything you can.

 

Want to know why living in a tiny house is magic?

Do you want to know why living in a tiny house camper is complete magic?

…Us too.  If you find out, please let us know.

Seriously though, we would not continue this lifestyle in our tiny shiny camper if we did not absolutely love it. Like I posted a few weeks back, it’s not always rainbows and unicorns as social media might have you believe, but we are so grateful for this amazing opportunity.

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Some of the most wonderful aspects of living in our Airstream Camper have been:

Flexibility: While living in an Airstream has not yet made me the most flexible person on the planet (cue the hysterical laughter), it has given our family the flexibility to live in many different places.

Lack of Clutter: Yes, we still have clutter and too much stuff. We have three boys, enough said. However, there is nowhere to hide it. So we are in a constant state of clearing out and simplifying. And that can be so refreshing.  Here is a glimpse of our camper this morning as soon as I cleaned.

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Convenience:  Wherever we go, our house is with us. So, we can’t forget anything unless we leave Birdie behind. One day we went to a petting zoo with friends and one of our children forgot their shoes. Barefoot with goats and sheep is not my favorite. But every other time, we’ve had everything we need :).

Cost of Living:   This part has been incredible. One of the major reasons why we wanted to downsize our life was to find a way to live for less. While we often sleep in Walmart parking lots, we buy a lot of our clothing from thrift stores and practice a minimalist lifestyle. Primarily, we spend money on experiences instead of things. Daniel has recently trimmed our monthly “lodging” budget from $900 down to $250. And while that may sound ridiculous, we’re finding ways to make it work.

Togetherness:  I don’t have my own room and neither does anyone else. We’re all in this together (thanks Zach Effron). While I do have a high need for quiet and my own time, I love being in a space where I have endless opportunities to connect with Daniel and the kids.

Toby and Bex

I am sure you know that tiny house living is truly a booming trend. I mean who hasn’t heard of the HGTV shows, Tiny House Hunters and Tiny House, Big Living

We have met several really cool families on the road and it has been a lot of fun getting to know them. One of those families, that have 2 kids, is even downsizing to a Sprinter Van which totals roughly 120 square feet of living space.

Is tiny house-living something that you aspire to? Maybe not, but in case you are interested in the alternate lifestyle, check out this tiny house you can buy for just under $5,000 on Amazon.

Either way, I encourage you to do what works for you. Just live intentionally. Everyone is different and that is the beauty of humanity. Keep following your heart and live at your own pace. There is always a way to find your joy.

Love.

Homeschool MBA: watch out for these amazing little businessmen

As many of you know, we have been homeschooling the boys on the road. While I started out as the ‘teacher’ it didn’t take long until our acting ‘principal’, my dearest wife, supplanted me in this role. While some may contend, and rightfully so, that Bex is a far more gifted (and patient) teacher than yours truly, I am often left to wonder: Did the students (Matthew – grade 2, Josiah – pre-K and Toby – preschool) surpass their father’s intellect at a slightly faster rate than anticipated?  It is noteworthy to mention that I have maintained my honorary teaching status for a few critical subjects including recess, colors (art), health (potty training), numbers (math), and PE.

Which brings me to the newest course that I have been constructing for the boys: Entrepreneurship 101.  Back in the summer, after fending off multiple requests to buy a new Lego set, our MBA level course came to life.

“Hey Daddy, can we cook up some more of those cinnamon rolls”, Matty asked.

Professor responds, “Sorry bud, you guys are eating us out of camper and home. Kitchen is closed until lunch.”

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Grasshopper replies, “They’re not for us. I want to sell them to the people around the campsite.”

…Class in session.

Matthew, Josiah and I worked together to cook up the final package of rolls, which looked (and smelled) delicious as icing melted over top of their “product”. We stepped out of the camper with Toby joining us to complete the trio in what they fondly refer to as Three Brothers Bakery.

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We reviewed each brothers assignment. Matthew, with gooey treats strategically placed on the plate, carefully held with both hands, rehearsed his lines. Josiah, the money man. And Toby, seated on my shoulders, was ‘upper management’, smiling and waving to potential “customers” as the boys approached each campsite.

Boss Baby and I stood just far enough away to hear the interactions as the boys approached their first ‘prospect’.

Matthew softly asked, “Good morning. Would you like to buy a warm, fresh cinnamon roll?”

“How much do they cost?” the grey-haired lady replied.

“Uhmmm, 50 cents”, young Matty answered.

“I’ll take two please.”

After Josiah received payment, the boys sprinted back, almost spilling the other 6 rolls off the plate, and showed “the mini boss” the team’s very first George Washington.

While the boys were off to a great start they received friendly declines at the next 5 campsites. I asked my sons if they wanted to call it a day but perseverance won out as they decided to press on.

It took about 25 minutes, but the boys sold the remainder of their inventory (well they technically ate 3 but who can blame ’em;). The trio seemed to almost float back to our camper with glee and soon quarters danced with excitement on Josiah’s bed as los hermanos celebrated.

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And while they thought class had been dismissed their proud professor made his way back to their room with notebook and pencil in hand.

“So what did we learn today, gentlemen?” I asked.

Matthew and Josiah walked me through each sale, the total money they had collected and their respective part in cooking and distributing the product. We then worked through the numbers: cost of goods sold ($1.50), profit ($5.75) and their hourly earnings rate. Lastly, each of the brothers provided their feedback on how they felt everything went and if there was anything they could improve in the future, while Daddy furiously scribbled down their thoughts.

One of the ideas that surfaced was to find out what feedback the customers might have. After writing up a few surveys, Matthew strapped on his helmet, mounted his bike and rode the half-page forms back to each of the 5 campsites where purchases had occurred.

img_0526Since the opening of Three Bros. Bakery, the boys have sold product in 4 different states including Wyoming, Montana, Wisconsin, and New York, and have even ‘opened up’ an international office in Nova Scotia, Canada in August. Most recently, one of the boys received an A+ for his ingenuity by asking the following question,

“Daddy, do you think you could make some extra coffee in the morning that we could take around to sell with our rolls?”

At this point, I’m not sure who is more excited about learning, me or my students. But either way, we are having an absolute blast in this educational pursuit of excellence.

And while they haven’t yet nailed down their online sales platform without infringing on Insomnia Cookies business model, I believe the boys may just find a way to get a sweet cinnamon roll soon delivered to your doorstep.

Happy Thanksgiving friends. img_7277

Here are a few of our favorite items to use while we bake: