It Takes More Than Just "Yes" ; Peter Strickland on Moving to Puerto Rico

The road to the island has been a year and a half in the making.

Peter Strickland has the soul of an adventurer and a heart of gold. His journey is one that goes beyond travel and becomes a dedication to a land and it's people. With Puerto Rico in his blood, surfer in his soul, and Jesus in his heart, Peter made the bold decision (with ease) to join YoungLife Staff and move to Puerto Rico.  Peter shares with us the reality of getting there. It involved much more than just the choice; it was a process which took time, dedication, and transition.  


Getting There

By Peter Strickland 

Photo Jul 05, 8 18 04 AM.jpg
I would love to write a post that is nothing but lists of incredible adventures that I’ve been on. I would love to show you pictures of the best surf spots, maybe some waterfall that I discovered while exploring the island, or maybe talk about the best local rum.

The truth however is that the highlight of my first two weeks here has been successfully navigating the Puerto Rican DMV during my two-day push to get my car fully registered on the island.

My first weeks here have been a mess of moving in, getting lost, trying to find my way, getting stuck in traffic, realizing how overweight my bags were, being homesick, fumbling through speaking Spanish, getting discouraged, having small victories, buying mangos off the side of the road, missing my girlfriend, and generally trying to find my way in an entirely new place.

The road to the island has been a year and a half in the making. Way back in the fall of 2014 I got into a conversation with Anne and Tyler Snow after church. As we made post-service small talk Tyler told me that they had decided to move to Puerto Rico. Anne had taken a position on Young Life Staff and Tyler would teach at a high school. Then he dropped this question on me: “as we’ve been praying and thinking about moving to Puerto Rico your name has consistently come up. Would you ever consider moving there?”

That one question on the tail end of a three-minute conversation set the pace for the next 18 months. I sat with my girlfriend or with my roommates and bounced around the potential of committing to work in ministry, I applied for other jobs, and I Googled how much it would cost to ship my truck to Puerto Rico. After a couple of weeks I emailed Tyler again, if it could happen then I wanted in.

Emails between Anne and Tyler turned into emails with their boss. Emails with him turned into an interview. That interview turned into an offer. Before I graduated I accepted a three-year position on Young Life International Staff in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

There were some conditions though. Since Young Life operates as a non-profit I was required to fundraise the entirety of my salary and operating costs for the three year period, just over $150,000.

Graduation turned into my first summer out of school. I lifeguarded at the oceanfront in Virginia Beach. Summer turned into fall. I worked off-season maintenance for a hotel. Fall turned to winter. I worked as a delivery driver for a local florist. Throughout the entire time I made phone calls, sent emails and letters, sat down with people, started conversations, and slowly climbed to being 100% funded for the job.

Like I said above: that first conversation happened in Fall 2014. It’s June 2016 and here I am, finally moved in.

Since first emailing Tyler I haven’t doubted that this is where I am supposed to be. I’m thrilled to step out into an adventure like this. I love that my job requires that I not just work in an area, but also come to know and love where I am. In the next three years I’ll get to build friendships, I’ll get to discover this island; I’ll get to be a part of lives changing.

Truth is: I think I’m in way over my head... But I’m stoked. I think that’s exactly where God works.

-Peter S.