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Taking the long way home -- Habitat for Humanity Int'l 1

Taking the long way home

After a leap of faith, a freewheeling couple find their true mission on the road
By Soyia Ellison

Every morning, Bill and France Moriarty pray that God will show them His will for their lives. One day, back in 2001, they heard Him say, “You’ve got too much stuff.”

At the time, the Moriartys owned a booming construction business in South Florida and had a house, a condo at the beach and a cabin on a lake.

The message about “too much stuff” was accompanied by a call to the mission field — though they had no idea what that meant.

“France told me, ‘I’m not learning to speak Spanish; I’m not living in a tent; I’m not going to the bathroom in a bucket,’ ” Bill recalled with a laugh.

A year or so earlier, Bill had begun volunteering with Habitat for Humanity of Broward County. He fell in love with the work and recruited France. Over time, the Moriartys began to believe that, for them, the mission field meant Habitat’s RV Care-A-Vanners program, in which volunteers travel around the country building houses with people in need.

But the Moriartys didn’t see how they could afford such an undertaking.

They decided to set some seemingly impossible monetary goals and say, “God, if you really want us to do this, make it happen financially.”

Within a week, they sold a piece of property they had been unable to unload for 15 years. Not long afterward, a developer called to say he was bringing them $330,000 — money they had written off as uncollectible years earlier when the company went bankrupt.

Meanwhile, they sold their condo and their cabin. They didn’t miss them.

“We realized we didn’t own our stuff,” Bill said. “Our stuff owned us.”

By the end of the year, the Moriartys had the money they needed to set out. Scared but excited, they closed their business and bought an RV. And in 2002, when Bill was 44 and France was 39, they hit the road with the Care-A-Vanners, most of whom are retirees.

“I joke that we didn’t make friends, we made parents,” France said.

Next: ‘Not ready to settle down just yet’
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