Monday, June 27, 2011

God Moment #23: Up With People - May 2, 1990

Have you ever had moments in your life where you think, "W

ow, what a coincidence!"? I sure have. Sometimes, though, I look back on the experience and the o

nly conclusion I can come to is that God chose that specific moment to show himself to me.

Here's God Moment #23...


I had just received my first F.

It was a big test in my 'Unix Programming' class towards the end of my 3rd year of university (To this day when I hear 'semiphore', 'symbolic link', or 'mutex' I break out in a cold sweat). I hated that class, but that wasn't why I got my bad test score.

I was burnt out.

For three years I had taken 16-20 credits per quarter, while working 16-32 hours a week at Dayton's. I loved that job: I spent hours at a time unloading trucks for a department store. My co-workers were great, hours were great, money was great, and it was highly physical...a well needed stress relief from classes.

But the pace was taking it's toll. More concerning, I was feeling stagnant in how my life was unfolding and what kind of impact I was having. I saw a well-worn (read: boring) pattern starting to unfold as to how my life would proceed, and I was not happy with what I was seeing.

That's when it happened...I remember as clearly as it was yesterday:

I was walking away from the Computer Science building after receiving that test score. It was bright and sunny out, but I was mind was swirling with what the future held. In desperation I prayed, "God, I need something to change in my life. Please help me." (note: Don't EVER pray this unless you're serious about it)

35 minutes later I reached my dorm room (Centennial Hall...single occupancy dorm room...awesome digs). I was quite blue and dragged myself to the 3rd floor...feeling lost and defeated.

I opened the dorm door...

...and the phone rang.


"Hi. I'm calling for Greg Hintermeister? I got this number after calling your parents home."

"Yes, this is Greg", I said abruptly. I almost hung up thinking it was telemarketing.

"Hi. This is Up With People. If you recall, you auditioned over a year ago?"

Of course I remembered. My girlfriend, now wife, attended the show at Northrop Auditorium, and stayed after to be interviewed. I had been accepted, and thought I might travel after graduating. But after a year, the excitement had faded and I really had no intention to travel. After all, once I graduated, I would have job offers from well-paying tech companies and a whole year 'playing and traveling' would make any programming skills quite rusty.

"Yeah, I remember", I replied.

"Well, we are in need of musicians, and we are wondering if you would like to travel with us this coming year?"


"We realize it is short notice, and you only have two months to raise the 12K required. Since we need your particular guitar skills, we are willing to give you a $3,000 scholarship"

...silence...with a big 'ol smile...

"Up With People plans on traveling all over the world, and you will have an adventure beyond your wildest expectations"

My response?


...or maybe it was something a bit more professional...

"OK! Great. Well, we will mail you a packet on how to raise money, what to pack, when to arrive in Tucson, the guitar charts to practice with, and potential tour locations. See you in July!"

Just like that my life trajectory changed forever.

I'm not sure what exactly happened next, but my dorm speakers (2 3'x3' concert-grade speakers) were thumping celebration music (Prince's "Trust", if I recall) loud enough that when my friend opened the door to see what was wrong, he saw me doing an 'animal house' dance move on the floor as it was the only way the excitement I felt wouldn't physically burst through my chest.

"Dude, what's up? Hey! GREG!!!"

I looked up, stood and paused the music, straightened my shirt, and said (with accompanying fist-pump):



It wasn't until a month later I remembered the prayer from earlier that morning.

This was God Moment #23: When God showed me he was real, he cared, and he loved me by giving me a year experiencing the world through Up With People...when I most needed it...and least expected it.

Now looking back, that year in Up With People impacted my life in so many ways. It gave me a travel bug, a thirst for adventure, a curiosity to try new things (food, experiences, points of view), a world wide perspective, and it gave me life-long friends.

And, it turns out that my UWP experience was more important than my coding skills in landing my first...and job (IBM).

Oh, and most of all, this moment set in stone my faith in a living, loving God.


Have you had any God Moments in your life?
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