We’re (Almost) Not In Kansas Anymore

Kansas Skyline Well friends, after taking a short, 2-week break to attend and enjoy Lindsie’s little sister’s wedding, we’re back on the road again. Although a break is always nice, we’d be lying if we said we weren’t anxious to get back out and resume our journey.

After we left our new friends in El Dorado, we made our way toward Rosalia, Kansas. The weather was pretty dark and cloudy, and we weren’t surprised to feel some sprinkles coming down as we made our way out of town. Unfortunately, we didn’t have many options, because we were basically on the edge of town, heading toward the middle of nowhere. Then, as He so often does, God provided us with a place to go. A seemingly-abandoned restaurant on the very edge of El Dorado had a large, covered patio that seemed to be calling our names. Just moments after we pushed our carts underneath the roof, the rain broke out in full force. Thankfully, we were comfy and dry in our shelter, and Lindsie and I listened to an audiobook together while we waited for the rain to die down, which it eventually did. Then it was onward to Rosalia.

Thanks to our friends Josh and Kerri, we had a connection to the Methodist Church in Rosalia. Although no one was there when we arrived, Josh and Kerri’s connection, Linda, told us we were welcome to spend the night in the church basement, which we were thankful for. They had a kitchen, so we were able to make some dinner and have a quiet night to ourselves.

The next day we headed toward Eureka, Kansas. Although we called a few churches in town, we weren’t able to find anywhere to stay, so we ended up paying for a hotel room. Normally we’d just camp out somewhere to save money, but the weather forecast predicted storms that night and we decided we’d rather pay a little extra to be safe and dry. Sure enough, it rained and stormed throughout the night, which reaffirmed our decision to splurge on a hotel room.

Mike, Lindsie, Jake, and Joy ("Go Jackrabbits!" says Lindsie.)We left Eureka the next morning extra early so that we could make it to Neal, Kansas, in time for the Sunday morning service at Neal Evangelical Free Church. The pastor at Neal E-Free, Larry Evans, and his wife, Jo, were kind enough to let us stay the night at the church. We enjoyed meeting so many of the great congregation members at the Sunday morning service, and we (particularly Lindsie) were extra excited when one of them was a South Dakota State University grad with tons of connections to the South Dakota area. Needless to say, Lindsie wanted to spend more time getting to know Joy, and we were glad to accept her offer to take us out to lunch in town—town meaning back in Eureka.

We had a blast talking with and sharing stories with Joy and her grandson Jake, and after lunch she dropped us back off at the church in Neal so we could get some rest. After a few hours of relaxing and enjoying the air conditioning, we went to bed ready to get up and move the next morning.

Unfortunately, our bodies disagreed with that plan. Linds and I both woke up feeling like we’d been run over by a truck. At that point we really hadn’t taken a full day off in six or seven days (and it was starting to show). Thankfully, Pastor Evans was kind enough to let us stay at the church an extra day, which was exactly what we needed. After another relaxing day in Neal, we got the rest we needed and prepared for an early morning rise.

Lindsie and Pastor RussellWe met the sun on its way up and began pushing our way toward Yates Center, Kansas. Thanks to Pastor Russell at the Methodist Church in Yates Center, we knew we had a place to stay when we arrived in town. The day itself was fairly uneventful, but it was much, much warmer than we’d been hoping for. We finally got to the church, thankful that we’d be out of the sun for the rest of the day.

Because the parsonage wasn’t in use at the church, Pastor Russell decided to let us stay there. That was awesome, because it meant we had showers, a kitchen to use for dinner, a washing machine and dryer for laundry, and a bed to sleep in. It really doesn’t get much better than that.

Since the heat had beaten us up so badly the day before, we decided to wake up extra, extra early in order to beat the heat however possible. We set the alarm for 3:00 a.m. (yes, really) and were out the door by 4:15. The sun wasn’t out yet, but we used our awesome Petzl headlamps to illuminate the road in front of us and we made a good hour and a half of progress before the sun began to rise. We got rained on a little bit in the early morning darkness, but it was a warm rain and it was much more bearable than the freezing rain we’d experienced in the past. It was a little surreal walking down the highway getting rained on in the pitch dark, but it was an experience we both ended up enjoying.

Our next town was Iola, and we’d connected with the Wesley United Methodist Church in Iola beforehand. We got into town and arrived at the church thankful to be there, because the day was beginning to turn into another hot one. After getting down into the basement, we set ourselves up for a night of relaxation. Along with a kitchen, the church in Iola also had showers, so we were excited to be clean again, especially after the rain that morning left us sweaty and sticky once the sun came out. Interestingly enough, we later learned that the pastor at the church in Iola was the wife of Pastor Russell in Yates Center. We had no idea that was the case when we’d called, but I guess God knew where He was sending us.

Lindsie's family (mom, Lyn, dad, Tim, and sister, Brittany)

It was hard to sleep that night because we knew Lindsie’s parents were coming down the next day to pick us up for her sister’s wedding. Eventually we got some shut eye, and we woke up at 3:00 a.m. again in order to get as far down the road as possible before Lindsie’s parents arrived. It was another dark morning, but worth it to avoid the heat that was sure to come.

After passing a few small towns and making it about six or seven miles, we were surprised to see Linsdie’s parents, Tim and Lyn Page, much earlier than we’d expected them to arrive. On top of that, Lindsie’s sister, Brittany, had come down with Tim and Lyn to surprise Lindsie. Needless to say, there was screaming and hugging and more screaming and more hugging. Then we loaded some of our gear into the van and prepared to walk a few more miles before heading back home to South Dakota. After another five or six miles, it was time to load up the rest of our gear and make the journey home for the wedding.

Lyn's dog, Zoie, Lyn, and Brittany walking ahead of usThe wedding itself was a blast. It was a blessing to be a part of a wedding with two strong-hearted Christians like Brittany and her now-husband Grant Kuper. The two of them are going to be interns for CRU (Campus Crusade for Christ) at North Dakota State University next year, helping to mentor and guide the NDSU students who are involved in CRU, and Lindsie and I can’t wait to see how God continues to work in their lives, further transforming them into warriors for Christ.

Anyway, after the wedding was over, we said sad goodbyes to our families and caught a ride back down to Kansas from Lindsie’s uncle John, who was on his way down to Louisiana. After a shockingly short drive (we’re assuming John was driving faster than we realized…although we were sleeping most of the way, so maybe that was the cause), we unloaded our stuff where we’d last left off and started walking again.

Lindsie and her Uncle JohnWe’d planned to get all the way to Uniontown that first day back on the road, but our two weeks off had gotten us more out of shape than we’d realized. We hadn’t even reached Bronson before we were ready to call it a day. Thankfully, the Hope Chapel Assembly of God Church is located right in between Moran and Bronson off of Highway 54. After asking Pastor Tom and his wife Denise if we might be able to spend the night in the church, we were given a firm, “no,” which was a little disheartening. Then Pastor Tom smiled and told us we could stay in their Blessing Center next door to the church, which happens to have a bedroom, a kitchen, showers, and everything else we could have hoped for. Calling it a Blessing Center is sort of an understatement, considering how much of a blessing it was to us on that day. On a side note, the Blessing Center itself was actually paid for by the 700 Club back in the 1980s, which is kind of random and cool.

Lindsie, Mike, Denise, and Pastor TomThe next morning was cloudy and rainy. On the one hand, clouds are a blessing because they keep the weather cool. On the other hand, rain is always tricky because nobody wants to be soaked all day. Well we got soaked all day. It rained off and on, sometimes aggressively, for almost our entire 9-mile walk. But thankfully, rain in eastern Kansas in July isn’t exactly cold rain, so it wasn’t as uncomfortable as some of our rainy day walks have been. In fact, Lindsie never even put on her jacket because the rain was keeping her nice and refreshed. Eventually we made our way into Uniontown to stay at First Missionary Baptist Church. Pastor Martin at the church wasn’t around, but he told us over the phone to go on in and make ourselves at home. It was a perfect place to get inside, dry off, warm up, and get a good night of rest, which is exactly what we did (after eating at the lone café in town, which makes a delicious plate of burgers and fries). Even though it was a small town, Uniontown was perfect for us.

Here's an armadillo we saw on the road...it was trying very hard to sneak away (as you can see)

Up next on our route was Fort Scott, but I think this is where we’ll cut things off for now. We’ll have another update soon, though. Thanks so much for following the journey up to this point. And as I say almost every time, please don’t be afraid to let us know if you have prayer requests. We have plenty of time to pray for you, we just need to know what to pray for.

On a final note, I thought I’d close with a verse I read yesterday morning during my Bible study. It was encouraging to us as we walked, and I hope it encourages you. The verse comes from Isaiah, in verse 10 of chapter 41, and it says,

“Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.”

Another verse I’d read the day before is one you might already be familiar with, but I’ll share it anyway, as it was also encouraging to us. That verse is Isaiah 40:31:

“But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.”

Feel free to run (or in our case, walk) knowing the Lord is by your side. He’ll give you all the strength you need.

Until next time, be blessed.

-Mike and Lindsie

A Life As Meaningful As Shamgar’s

Just as a heads up, the Storming Jericho crew has taken a short break in order to enjoy Lindsie’s younger sister’s wedding. We’re back in the Dakotas for another day or two, then we’re getting a ride back down to Highway 54 so we can hit the road again. As a result, this post isn’t a “from the road” update, but hopefully you still think it has some value.

The epic tale of Shamgar

A few nights ago, I was doing my daily Bible study and I was reading through the book of Judges. If you haven’t read Judges or aren’t familiar with it, Judges focuses on the Old Testament leaders of Israel who led Israel against various oppressive nations and rulers from the surrounding lands.

The general process of the book is that God would appoint a judge, he or she would lead the Israelites out of oppression, then, after a few years, the Israelites would forget about God and start worshipping other nations’ gods. Then God would allow oppressive rulers to take over again, the Israelites would whine and beg for help, and the process would start all over at the beginning.

Some of these judges are pretty famous as far as Biblical history goes. There’s Deborah (Judges 4-5), the only female judge mentioned in the Bible and a fierce warrior who led the Israelites against the king of Canaan. There’s Gideon (Judges 6-8), whose awesome name means “Destroyer” or “Mighty Warrior” and who led just 300 Israelites to victory against thousands of Midianites. There was Samson (Judges 13-16), to whom God gave superhuman strength as long as he didn’t cut his hair and who once killed 1,000 Philistines with a donkey’s jawbone, amongst other things. All in all, the book of Judges is filled with some impressive people.

Then there’s this guy named Shamgar. If you’re familiar with Shamgar, good job. If you’re not familiar with Shamgar, don’t feel bad. Why? Because Shamgar basically has one verse of his own. Many of the other judges have entire chunks of verses—if not multiple chapters—describing their feats, accomplishments, and in some cases, their flaws. Shamgar, however, basically gets a single verse describing his leadership as a judge of Israel. But it’s a pretty awesome verse.

“After [Ehud] was Shamgar the son of Anath, who killed six hundred men of the Philistines with an ox goad; and he also delivered Israel.” (Judges 3:31)

To clarify, an ox goad is the stick that plowmen would use back in the day to encourage their oxen to plow the fields. Not exactly something you’d consider to be a weapon of mass destruction. But somehow Shamgar was blessed enough by God to kill 600 Philistines with a single stick.

The point of this post isn’t to tell you about a barely-mentioned judge from the Old Testament. It’s to bring up the fact that some people might read Shamgar’s verse and think of it almost like an afterthought. As if the writer at the time remembered at the very last second that he should throw something in about that Shamgar guy.

But the thing that has been stuck in my head for 2-3 days now is this: What if you only had ONE verse written about you in the Bible? What would you want it to say? If I look back on my life and consider what I’ve tried to accomplish so far to find what most people consider to be “success,” would any of those events and decisions be worthy of even a single verse in the Bible?

We may not go out tomorrow and slay 600 Philistines with an ox goad. (Frankly, we probably shouldn’t even try to…mostly because they don’t exist anymore, but also just because…)

But God does have big plans in store for every one of us. It’s whether or not we choose to act on those big plans that makes the difference. Shamgar did. If he hadn’t stepped up and done something insane and incredible, he might not have ever done anything worthy of mention in the Bible. Instead he fearlessly did what God commanded him to do and made an impact that is still read by people thousands of years later.

It may only be one verse, but it’s a verse that certainly says a lot about Shamgar and his faith in God.

Just a thought that I’ve wanted to get out for a few days now. It may seem odd to want to live a life like Shamgar, but it doesn’t seem quite so odd when you think about how being a little weird or crazy for God can make more of a long-term impact than we could ever imagine.


P.S. – I do want to clarify that Shamgar is mentioned ever-so-slightly in Judges 5:6, when Deborah sings, “In the days of Shamgar, son of Anath, in the days of Jael, the highways were deserted, and the travelers walked along the byways.” But in my opinion that’s more a description of the environment of that time than a description of Shamgar himself.

Crossing Kansas (and Passing the 2,000 Mile Mark)

A beautiful photo, taken by LindsieOur journey across Kansas continues to fly by, as the Storming Jericho crew continues to trek onward toward the east coast. You may remember from our last post that we left off just outside of Stafford, Kansas, saying hello and goodbye to our fellow cross-country walkers, Josh and Kerri.

After Josh and Kerri left, we pushed our way into Stafford after a 22-mile day of walking. Our destination was the Methodist Church in Stafford, where the church receptionist, Arlene, said we were welcome to stay. The church was pretty much empty because they were waiting on a new pastor to arrive in the near future and, due to the harvest season, most people were out working in the fields all week. Basically it was perfect timing for me and Lindsie to stay for a little while.

Unfortunately, due to a bad night of sleep, we ended up staying longer than planned. On the one hand, this was somewhat disappointing since we always enjoy making solid progress. On the other hand, it was REALLY hot outside, so it was probably safer for us to be indoors anyway. Plus, a massive thunderstorm hit one of the nights we were there, and it was nice to be indoors so we could avoid that as well.

Mike and LarryDuring our last night in Stafford, a gentleman named Larry was bringing food in for the food pantry. After we helped him unload his truck, Larry offered to take us out to a local restaurant for some cinnamon cream pie, a dish which Stafford is fairly well known for in the region, according to Larry. Needless to say, it was absolutely delicious and we were thankful we had offered to help him unload his truck.

Eventually we did leave Stafford, which brought us toward Plevna, a small town that was on a road a few miles south of Highway 50. It was nice to get off of Highway 50 for a change, mostly because the road to Plevna was basically empty and extremely peaceful. For the first time in a while, Linds and I had a chance to talk while we walked, and Jaeda was able to roam and explore with as much slack as her leash offered. We were all feeling pretty comfortable with things as we strolled into Plevna.

Then, as if God wanted to give us a bonus blessing, the pastor and his family in Plevna offered to put us up in their house for the night instead of having us sleep on the floor of the church. That meant we were going to have a bed, showers, dinner, and even more comfort than usual. Talk about a pleasant surprise.

Mike and the GreensThe pastor of Plevna Community Bible Church is David Green, and he, his wife Larissa, and their two kids Danny and Emily were delightful. Danny is extremely well spoken and intelligent for his age, which made for some fun conversations, and Emily is one of the most adorable little girls in the world. On top of that, David and Larissa are great too.

After a tasty lunch, we were able to spend time chatting with the Greens, which we enjoyed. We also got familiar with their numerous pets, which included a sweet dog, two cats, a robin, and a tank full of fish and shrimp. Lindsie, who probably dreams of working in a zoo, was in Heaven. Then the Greens made a fantastic meal called Pasta Pizza for dinner—yes, it’s as awesome as it sounds—and I (Mike) was in Heaven myself. All of this added to our thankfulness that we had decided to detour off of Highway 50 and head into Plevna. God clearly wanted us to relax and enjoy ourselves in a perfect little Kansas town.

Unfortunately, Lindsie made the mistake of drinking iced tea at lunch. Normally iced tea is a perfectly acceptable drink at lunch. But Lindsie doesn’t exactly handle caffeine well, which meant that when 3:00 A.M. rolled around, she was still wide awake (fun fact: 3 a.m. is NOT the best time to still be awake when you have a 23-mile day of walking on the agenda for the next morning).

Since Lindsie was exhausted, David and Larissa were kind enough to let us bum around an extra night, which was great anyway because we both wanted to spend more time with their family. We made sure Lindsie didn’t have any more tea, and we were out the door bright and early the next morning on our way toward Hutchinson, which was, as mentioned, about 23 miles away.

Lindsie with the King familyAlthough the day was going to be a long one, we were excited to be on the road and making progress again. And our excitement grew when we were out on the road and got invited to lunch by some people who were driving by. It was an out of the blue invite, and we were quite hungry, so it made for perfect timing. The Kings invited us in and bestowed upon us a buffet of sandwiches, macaroni salad, chips and salsa, fresh fruit, and homemade cookies. We were thankful for Aaron and Amber’s generosity, especially when they didn’t know us and didn’t even know why we were walking across the country. They must have just thought Jaeda was cute. Anyway, we said goodbye to the King family and got ready to finish our walk to Hutchinson.

Thanks to Bob and Norma from Lewis, Kansas, (we met Bob and Norma in the previous blog post), we had a place to stay in Hutchinson. Their daughter, Joni, and son-in-law, Mike, offered to let us stay in their spare bungalow next door. We had a good time getting to know Joni, Mike, and their granddaughter Ivy and her friend Lindsey. Not only did we have a great conversation, but Mike took us for a ride in their 1959 Rambler. Although they asked us to stay an extra day or two, we had already burned through our extra free days in Stafford and Plevna, so we were out bright and early the next morning.

Joni, Mike, Lindsey, Ivy, and LindsieOne thing I just realized I forgot to mention was how blessed we’ve been with weather the past week days. It has been absolutely ridiculous, but the HIGH for the past stretch of our journey temperature-wise was around 85 degrees most days. Before that, the high had consistently been in the mid-to-high-90s, with several days being in the 100+ range. It seems God knew we would have two or three 20+ mile days in our future and decided to cut us a break with the weather. All we’ve heard from Kansans is that they have no idea why it has been so cool the past week. We just smile and say a quiet thanks that God is taking care of us as always.

Anyway, our next stop on the route was Burrton, Kansas. We were planning to stay at Faith Community Bible Church in Burrton, and we were looking forward to a good day of walking and a better night of rest. After a pretty uneventful day, we got to Burrton in the early afternoon. Pastor Travis Heneha was waiting for us at the church, and he showed us where we’d be sleeping. Then he offered to let us go to his house to meet his family, take showers, and eat some dinner. It was an offer we couldn’t refuse (not that we would have wanted to).

Mike and the Heneha familyAfter a great afternoon of talking with Travis, his wife, Jamie, and his two sons, Trey and Nathanial, we took our showers, ate some delicious pizza, and headed back to the church. We got the wonderful night’s rest we were hoping for, and were once again out the door just as the sun was rising. It’s always so peaceful out on the road in this early morning hours, and it definitely makes walking along the highway a little more relaxing when the road is empty and people are still asleep in bed.

From Burrton we headed toward Newton, which is a bigger city in this part of Kansas. We were staying at Grace Community Church in Newton, and it was a pretty big church. We talked with Janelle, the secretary there, and also met Christina and Edith, two other women who worked in the church office. We had a great conversation with them, and then we went to start setting up in the gym for the evening. A few minutes later Christina came in and invited us to stay at her house. Since we liked her so much, we would have said yes right away, but she started talking about showers, and a brand new guest bed, and dinner, so we had to wait for all of those great things before we could actually tell her yes. Plus, she and her husband, Brian, have two of their own dogs, so there’s no way Lindsie was saying no.

Lindsie with Christina, Edith, and Janelle (from left to right)As you can probably guess, we had a great night with Christina. We talked for a loooong time, ate a fantastic meal, and Lindsie got to enjoy some Blue Bell Homemade Ice Cream, which is better than words can describe. Having lived in Texas (where it’s from…and where Christina is from…), I was familiar with Blue Bell and had told Lindsie in the past about how tasty it was, but it was something she needed to experience for herself. Although my lactose-intolerance means no ice cream for me, I was happy Linds got to enjoy it. A little jealous. But mostly happy.

After a great night of sleep in the new, extra comfy guest bed, we made our way back to the church to get our carts and head down the road. We said a goodbye prayer with Christina and continued our journey.

Our original plan was to stop in Whitewater, but we realized how much energy we had and decided we could push an extra 11 miles to nearby Potwin, Kansas. Thanks to an early morning call from Kathy in Potwin, we were offered a place to stay at the Potwin Christian Church. After a 24-mile day to Potwin, we arrived at the church. As always, we were thankful to have a place to stay. Even better, Kathy and her husband, John, had family in town and they were cooking out. For dinner, they brought us burgers, corn on the cob, potatoes, gazpacho, fruit, and fresh-baked cookies. We were very full, and very appreciative.

Mike and KathyBefore we knew it, it was time for bed. The next morning brought two things: the 4th of July and a 13-mile trip to El Dorado (pronounced ell-doh-ray-doh). We were thankful that the trip wasn’t too long, because it was finally starting to warm up a little bit out on the road. We reached the Presbyterian Church in El Dorado, where Carla, the church secretary, had invited us to stay in the Youth Center, which was a separate building from the church.

Carla and her husband, Gary, were fun to chat with. After a little while, they went over to their place so we could get set up for the night. After Linds and I watched a movie on the gigantic projector screen in the youth room, Carla called and asked if we wanted to enjoy some 4th of July grilling. We thought that sounded both fun and patriotic, so we went out and ate burgers, corn on the cob, potatoes, and fruit with them. (Yes, it was quite similar to our meal in Potwin, and we were perfectly fine with that.)

Mike, Gary, and CarlaThat night we wanted to go to bed early, but it seemed the entire town of El Dorado decided to shoot off fireworks. Guess that makes sense, seeing as it was the 4th of July. Either way, we didn’t get to sleep right away, but it was still a fun night.

At this point, the blog is mostly caught up, so it’s probably a good place for me to stop and get ready for bed. We’ve got another chunk of miles to walk tomorrow, after all.

Jaeda is pooped...riding in the cart is hard...Thanks so much for everyone’s encouragement and prayers of support, as always. We’ve been so, so thankful to know how many people are excited for us to keep making progress across Kansas. We’ve now walked over 2,000 miles total, and we’re officially beyond halfway to our destination, which is exciting!

On a final note, we want to thank God for keeping us so well provided for these past few weeks. It seems weird because we haven’t exactly had a ton of miraculous experiences to share, but we know it’s a blessing that God has kept us safe on the road and continues to put us in contact with wonderful, incredible people everywhere we go. We feel more and more blessed every day that we’re out here, and more and more thankful for God’s provision and protection.

Anyway, hope you all had a great 4th of July, and we’ll be back with another post soon!

-Mike, Lindsie, and Jaeda