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.
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.
We 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.
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.
The 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.
We’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.
The 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.
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