Christian Gap Year for Entrepreneurs

Hosanna Sheeley has been traveling around the world for over four years with her now five-year-old son, Matteo, writing and sharing her story of losing her partner to suicide as well as her own personal journey with grief.  She has been working remotely for two years as a freelancer and has now stepped into a more entrepreneurial role launching two businesses this year alone.  She is passionate about creating passive income streams that allow her to have more time with her son and for Kingdom building projects.

So, you’re on a bit of a different path than you started on back in college when you earned your political science degree. What led you to choose that course of study and does it relate to what you are doing today?

I don’t do anything with my degree now, but there was a reason why I chose political science.

My sophomore year I applied for a very competitive internship with the CIA. They have 10,000 applicants apply, but they only choose around eight people. It’s the same hiring process for new recruits, so there were a lot of hoops to jump through.  I eventually got to the very, very end of it— to an in-person interview.

The first half of the interview I did great, but during the second half they asked me a question about lying for my country and while I immediately said yes, conviction began to creep in and to me, it felt as though the interview tanked.  I left that day feeling so embarrassed, a little angry that God chose that moment right then (and not during all the months before) to lay on the conviction, and really hoped that they would (and actually believed they would) reject me.

To my surprise they didn’t, instead I received a congratulatory phone call.  And after a lot of wrestling with myself and God, I picked up the phone and told them I was withdrawing my application.  They said okay and asked no further questions.  They eventually sent an unmarked letter saying “we’re sorry to hear of your decision, but if you ever change your mind, the door is always open.”  I never changed my mind.

And now that my life plans had completely changed, I asked myself - what am I going to do next?

While processing this, I eventually ran into someone who was leaving for the World Race which put it on my radar. Once I learned more about it, I decided I was in.

I worked hard and graduated a semester early so that I could leave with my Squad in January 2012.

I had traveled before - to India and Israel on my own for a few months, but The World Race was my first exposure to living abroad in mostly developing countries.

I knew from the time I was young that I wanted to live a travel lifestyle, and when I finished the race and started traveling on my own, I realized there’s so much freedom.

What do you do for work?

I got my foot in the door of the online world 2 years ago and started working remotely as a virtual assistant. Quickly, I scaled up to an online business manager, but I burnt out quickly.

I was wearing a lot of different hats helping my client build her business from nothing to almost 10k in monthly revenue.  If one day we needed to do a whole marketing funnel, I figured it out and then built the funnel. If the next day we needed to optimize our strategy, I went and did that, and so on. I learned so much from that experience in such a short amount of time but working like that also burnt me out because I was juggling so many balls in the air and trying to balance so many things. I eventually had to pull the handbrake on that client.   So my number one recommendation to anyone in this field is to not try and wear all the hats. Know what your role is and what you’re being paid for.

Right now, I just run her podcast which I like because it's independent, I can do it on my own time, and we do it in batches.

I recently launched another online business with another World Race alumni called Virtual Tentmakers. Our goal for this business is to create a community of believers who work remotely and to teach remote jobs skills to those who want to join the mission field but do not want to support raise.

I've also been working on passive income. I own three mobile homes. Rental income makes more than I ever made working for my clients.  And now I’m creating an ebook with my dad (who is the real expert here) showing others how they can invest in mobile homes.

Is there anything that surprised you when you got into mobile home rentals?

Yes, mobile home investing is a lot different than big property investing because I own these mobile homes outright. I invested, saved up, and purchased them for $10k - $20k each. Instead of financing a mortgage, you can realistically save money and purchase one as a young person. For me, my initial investment is paying off in about 2 years' time. There's no other investment that will give you a 30 to 50% return on your money every year. That’s why we are working on an ebook to teach other people the ins and outs of mobile home investing/renovating because it's actually something you can do.

I love meeting people in the nomadic lifestyle because there are so many creative options out there to finance your lifestyle. And I can’t agree more that it's actually easier to save money while abroad. Even though my budget is small, I’m able to live comfortably and still save quite a bit while overseas compared to while I’m in America where my monthly budget is consistently overspent.

Even when I'm in Colombia, my son and I average a monthly budget of $1500. We actually live more comfortably in Colombia than we do in America.

Do you have a favorite place that you like to visit?

I really love Israel. I've been there five times and my son has been there twice.  But the thing about Israel is that it is so expensive —even more expensive than New York City so I probably won’t live there anytime soon. To visit, I really love Turkey, Morocco, Egypt, Jordan, but my favorite places to live are Medellin, Colombia and Cape Town, South Africa.  

How many countries have you been to in total?

With my son, we’ve been to 25 new countries together, but we’ve visited many of those counties multiple times. I think I've been to closer to 35 countries.

So what would you say to other people who might have a child but also want to travel?

I would say it is the best education that you could give them.

They are able to see the world and learn adaptability really early on —which is a great life skill. Also, you can provide stability for your child while traveling. Stability doesn’t mean staying in one location. Your family can be a stable unit, your finances can be stable, and your routine can be stable, you just change your environment. We keep consistent meal and nap times. My son goes to the park for playdates and meets new people just like he would in America, but there are so many more adventures my son can have as well.

Does your son have a favorite adventure?

He says “going swimming with animals.” He's like a little fish, so he loves to swim.  We went swimming with Whale Sharks in Mexico last year, and he was so brave -- jumped right into the middle of the ocean next to those giant creatures.

He has such a good sense of geography for a five-year-old. Crazy. He doesn't remember everything, especially when he was two or three, but he does remember experiences —which is why I think that it's the best education.

How has travel impacted you?

In a sense, it makes me realize how big this world is and just how many people don't know Jesus. It’s not just the countries we visit, but also the communities we live in. For example, the digital nomad community is huge, but I have yet to meet another Christian. Many people in the community are open to “spirituality” but not “Christianity” or “religion.” A lot of digital nomads are very successful and don’t believe they need anything.

What would you say to people who are considering a nomadic lifestyle, but haven't pulled the trigger yet?

I would ask them to think really hard about what's holding them back. If you can figure out what you are afraid of, you can easily counter it. I know for me, right before I took off with my child I was concerned about safety.

So just figure out what is holding you back and do it anyway. Once you start, you gain so much confidence that you'll be able to travel without those fears.

IG: @awelltraveledmom