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Van Life with Rev. Manda Truchinski

Written by Rev. Manda Truchinski

Assistant to the Bishop for Leadership and Strategic Organization


Hi, my name is Manda and I live in a van. Yes, sometimes it's down by the river. However, mostly it's in church parking lots. If you're not familiar with people who live in vans, I'd encourage you to search #vanlife on YouTube or watch the movie Nomadland. There's a ton of people in your community who choose or are forced to live in their vehicles. Some are surviving and some are thriving. I had the privilege to choose to live in a van. I also had the privilege and opportunity to get a van that is completely built out to be an RV. Inside my van is a bed, refrigerator, shower, toilet, kitchen, and all the amenities one needs to live comfortably.

I made the choice to live in a van for two reasons. One, is that my heart longs for the rhythm of the Holy Spirit. Do you remember what Jesus told Nicodemus in the Gospel of John? "Do not be astonished that I said to you, 'You must be born from above.' The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit." (John 3.7-8) As a beloved child of God, born of the Spirit, there is a nomadic pull to my heart and I love being able to go where the Spirit blows me.

The other reason I chose to live in a van was so that I could do the important and essential work of being with the people of our synod. Before serving on staff, I too wanted to have the Bishop's staff present in the life of the congregations that I was serving. I knew that our thriving as a faith community would be made more possible if we partnered with the other people of the Sierra Pacific Synod. Doing so increases our available resources, opens new possibilities that we couldn't imagine on our own, and sustains us when the way of discipleship is difficult.

My intention and most sincere hope is that I can come park my van in your church parking lot. I want to live in your community for a spell, work out of your congregation, meet y'all, and do ministry with you. I've already had the opportunity to meet a handful of new congregations in the farther reaches of our territory. So far, everyone has been exceedingly hospitable and offered their space, resources, and time when I visit. Really, I'm quite self-sufficient in my van so it doesn't take much. I just need a level place to park and some sunshine for my solar panels if possible.

On October 14th, the synod staff and some of the clergy and leaders of our synod blessed my van at the end of the Professional Leaders' Conference. It was hilarious and wonderful and I believe me and the rig are fully equipped to go out into the world and meet you where you are being God's hands and feet. I hope you'll reach out if you're interested in having me at your congregation or if you have questions about van life. You can shoot me an email at manda@spselca.org. Until then, see ya on the road!


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