Hills, Hills, and More Hills in Missouri

Cartoon of the Storming Jericho journey by Patty CaseWe’re going to start this blog post by sharing an AWESOME gift from a friend we wrote about in an update a few posts back. In that post, we mentioned that we got to enjoy a big dinner with a group of people in Hermitage, Missouri. One of those new friends at dinner was a woman named Patty Case, who pastors at the Christian Church in Hermitage. Patty is also a cartoonist, and she decided to draw a cartoon of us. She said there’s a color version coming soon, but we couldn’t wait to share her fantastic work in this post. So we hope you enjoy it as much as we do. Because it’s awesome.

Moving on. After we left that group in Hermitage, Lindsie and I made our way toward Macks Creek, Missouri. It was a hot, hot day, and the sun seemed to be baking us. It was on that day that we got the news my grandfather, Jack Billeter, had passed away.

We knew we had an option for getting to the funeral (the process of which I wrote about here), but we were going to have to wait a few hours to get picked up by our friend Mary. As a result, we needed a place to sit. After walking several miles in hopes of finding a place to sit with shade, we finally found a gravel road with trees. About 10 feet from the road was a gravel driveway and house. Lindsie was nervous about resting on someone’s land, but I convinced her it would be ok. After all, we were on what appeared to be a gravel road, not the driveway itself.

Mike, Mike, Lindsie, and LaurieAfter about an hour, a truck pulled into the driveway. Lindsie was slightly nervous, but the passengers got out and shouted, “You must be Mike and Lindsie!” Linds and I looked at each other, thoroughly confused. Neither of us recognized these people, but they seemed to know us. As it turns out, they were members of the church Patty (the aforementioned cartoonist) is the pastor for. She had talked about us in her sermon, and Mike and Laurie arrived home to find us nearly sitting in their driveway. Not only did they invite us in for dinner and cold water, but they let us wait there for our ride. After attending my Grandpa’s funeral, Mike and Laurie were kind enough to let us stay the night at their house before we started off the next morning toward Macks Creek. Talk about God providing for us on the road. It was such a blessing to have a comfortable place to be as all of these events unfolded. And they knew who we were before we even met them!

Even MORE beautiful nature...but also very hilly nature...And God’s provision continued after that, proving that God has plans for us long before we realize it. You may remember our friends Rich and Joy from Gunnison, Colorado (we wrote about them in this post). Well, before we got ready to head to Macks Creek, Lindsie got a text from Joy asking if we would be walking through Macks Creek. Lindsie said yes, and Joy excitedly responded that she has friends in Macks Creek that would love to have us stay with them. Talk about good news. People we met and befriended on our walk suddenly had OTHER friends to introduce us to farther down the road. Needless to say, we were thankful.

So…after saying goodbye to Mike and Laurie (and after enjoying a delicious breakfast with them), we headed out to meet our new friends of friends in Macks Creek. And while the weather wasn’t too terrible for most of the morning, we ended up getting to enjoy a different challenge—the hills in the Ozarks. Up and down, up and down throughout the day got to be pretty exhausting, but we knew we had to get to our destination.

Lindsie, Mike, Ruth, and Frank (and their puppies)Finally, after a good-but-strenuous day, we pulled in to Frank and Ruth’s house in Macks Creek. Frank and Ruth were great, and they went above and beyond. They offered us a delicious sandwich buffet lunch and then we had some time to ourselves while they worked on some projects at home. Later that evening, we ate some faaaantastic lasagna and just enjoyed a great night of conversation and fellowship. We were so thankful to have that experience with them, and thankful that Rich and Joy were thoughtful enough to pass along Frank and Ruth’s info so we could connect.

The next morning we left with some fresh fruit and homemade lemon poppyseed muffins courtesy of Frank and Ruth, and we enjoyed every bite of both. We made our way toward Buffalo Prairie Baptist Church, which was our next stop on the journey. We had plans to stay at the church that night and we would also have an opportunity to sit in on their weekly Sunday evening Bible study, which we were pumped about.

One problem we were facing, however, was that one of Lindsie’s tire wheels was worn down almost all the way through. We had put four new tires on around the same time, and for some reason one of Lindsie’s tires wore out ten times faster than the other three. We knew we needed to get to a Walmart so we could get a replacement tire, but the closest Walmart (in Camdenton) took us several miles out of our way, so we wouldn’t be able to go. We decided to pray right there on the side of the road that God would send someone who could help us get to Walmart. After we were done, we continued on our way.

Keith, Lindsie, and JeffWe reached Camdenton in the late morning, and, as we pulled into town, we noticed some people waiting in a nearby parking lot to talk with us. Two gentlemen, Keith and Jeff, asked what we were doing and offered to buy us lunch at a restaurant down the road. Naturally, we were happy to oblige them, as we tend to enjoy restaurant lunches more than peanut butter sandwiches. More importantly, we were thankful to be able to share our story with some new people, which is always exciting.

Keith and Jeff were great, and the lunch at RJ’s Family Restaurant in Camdenton was delicious. After we finished eating, Keith said that if we wanted to spend the night at his and his wife Martha’s house, it was on the way toward Montreal and he had a guest bedroom for us. On the one hand, we still would have had to walk seven miles to the church from Keith’s house. On the other hand, the idea of a comfortable guest bedroom at the end of the day is always hard to turn down, especially after the exhaustion we feel walking through these hills in the Ozarks.

We told him we’d decide on our plans as we walked, since we still had about ten miles to go at that point. As we walked, we agreed that God was telling us to stay at Keith’s house. We called Keith and asked whether or not we’d still be able to go to the Bible study at the church in Montreal if we stayed at his house because we wanted to honor that commitment. He assured us that wouldn’t be a problem at all. We made our way to Keith’s and were happy to find him waiting for us in the driveway. He led us up to his house, and we felt even better about staying there that night.

Just some beautiful nature

As we settled in, Keith asked if there was anything we needed. We knew this was our chance to mention the need to get a tire at Walmart, just with the hope he might be willing to make that happen. Without hesitation, Keith said, “We can go right now!” Just like that, our prayers had been answered again. No surprise there, since God has been taking care of that for us throughout this entire trip. But we were thankful nonetheless.

We rode out with Keith, got the supplies we needed, then headed home. Our plan was to go to Bible study at 6:00 p.m. at the church, and Keith said we could just borrow his vehicle to go. Once again, God provides. This man who had just met us this morning was kindhearted enough to let two strangers borrow his vehicle for the evening. We felt so blessed.

We ate a wonderful dinner with Keith, Martha, and Martha’s caretaker Cindy before heading out to the church. We got there and were excited to find a group of about 20 people gathered for Bible study. The pastor, John Book, was glad to have us there and we were glad to be there. He asked us to share our story for a little while and then led the Bible study on various passages in Proverbs. After the Bible study, we had some wonderful snacks and beverages in the fellowship hall, where we got to know more of the awesome Buffalo Prairie church members. Everyone was supportive and encouraging, which we appreciated beyond words. It was an incredibly affirming night for both of us, and we appreciated everything the congregation did for us.

The Buffalo Prairie Baptist Church crewAfter getting back to Keith and Martha’s, Lindsie and I went to bed and got one of the best nights of sleep we’ve had on this entire walk. And since we only had a seven mile walk the next day to reach the church, we didn’t have to go to bed quite so early and we were able to sleep in a little bit, which was great.

We said a sad goodbye to Keith the next morning and began walking to the church. The road was really hilly (what’s new?), but we still got to the church before noon. As a result, we had an entire afternoon to ourselves, which was relaxing and pleasant. Around 6:00 p.m., one of the congregation members, Diane, brought us a wonderful home-cooked meal of chicken strips, mashed potatoes, and corn. Her daughter had made it up for us and every bite was delicious.

That night we went to sleep early and got ready for a 23-mile push to Swedeborg, Missouri. We knew it was going to be a rough one, both because we’d be walking up and down hills and because we were traveling on roads with either a very small shoulder or no shoulder at all. We were out the door at 4:15 a.m. , but the heat was already coming down before 10:00 a.m. Combined with the humidity, we were struggling. Thankfully, we reached a town called Richland along the way. In Richland, we ate at a tasty restaurant and met a wonderful family that we got to chat with. Then, they went above and beyond and paid for our lunch AND gave us a Christian music CD that one of them had produced and performed on. It was awesome.

Our friends in RichlandAfter that, we continued on in the heat. We found a route that would cut 1.5 miles for us, but when we got to it, the road was gravel. We hoped it wouldn’t be bad, but we took it anyway with the hope of saving time and distance. The moral of the story: we need to stop taking gravel roads. It was brutal, particularly the uphill portions. But we eventually reached the Baptist Church in Swedeborg, dripping with sweat and exhausted.

As we arrived, Jim, the church pastor, pulled up to the church. He offered to let us stay at the church, or, if we wanted to, we could stay at his family’s house in Waynesville. We decided to take the guest bedroom option, and were glad we did. Jim and his wife, Jenny, made us feel right at home. They also took us out to this extremely unique restaurant for dinner called The Cave, which, as you might have guessed, is actually inside of a cave. Not modeled to look like a cave. It’s actually in a cave. On top of that, we were surprised that the food was actually delicious too.

The plan for the following day was for us to get up early and walk, but with only one cart. We would leave the rest of our gear at Jim and Jenny’s because we were going to stay at their house again. Why were we staying there again? Because we had an opportunity to share our story with the youth group at the Baptist Church in Swedeborg that night. We were excited to get up and get moving, but, unfortunately, Lindsie woke up that morning with a swollen throat. Her voice made her sound like a muppet, and it was ridiculously hard not to make fun of her, I can assure you. Of course, walking 20+ miles through hills and humidity with a swollen throat is not the best way to travel across the country, so we decided to wait that day at Jim and Jenny’s until she felt better. Thankfully, with some prayer and rest, she was feeling good by the end of the day and we were able to go speak with the youth group kids that evening.

The Burton family with Mike and Lindsie

We had a blast with the group from the church. So many great kids (and adults) with fun, unique questions, and there was a tasty meal there too. It was a win-win situation all around.

After another good night of sleep, Pastor Jim was kind enough to wake up and head out the door at 3:30 in the morning so we could walk to Dixon, Missouri, in cooler weather. We started around 4:00 in the morning, and even though it was dark, we enjoyed the coolness and the less traffic-filled roads.

Unfortunately, even with the early start, it got warm quickly. Before we knew it, we were dripping with sweat again. We still managed to make great progress for most of the morning. Then a few things tried to slow down our progress. We think satan was just trying to ruin our good day.

More beauty in nature

For starters, my (Mike’s) front wheel started to have some issues. At first I tried to ignore it, but pretty soon it was getting to be too much of a problem. After pulling off in someone’s driveway to work on it, we took the wheel apart and found the issue. The threads on the bolt were stripped down, which meant the wheel was shifting all over whenever it was pushed. We did our best to fix it on the fly, and said a prayer that we’d find a better solution once we reached town.

We pushed on, glad that we had found at least a temporary fix. A few miles later, we ran into one of our least favorite obstacles on road: dogs that aren’t tied up or fenced in. Even though we were out on the highway, we passed a house where two dogs came running right out onto the highway, barking and growling at us. The problem isn’t that we’re afraid of the dogs—they never attack us. The problem is that we don’t want them to get run over when they run out onto the road.

When Lindsie went to chase this dog back into its yard, she didn’t realize her cart was rolling into the ditch out of control. It crashed into a tree as she was catching it, so she pulled it out and we started walking again. About a quarter-mile down the road, she realized with concern that our GPS had fallen off of her cart during the crash. As a result, we had to drop everything and walk back down along the road searching through the tall grass to find our lost GPS. After 30 minutes of digging through grass, moving plants around, and praying we’d find our tiny, 2-inch by 3-inch electronic device, I finally stumbled across it (literally), and we were able to move down the road again.

Mike, Lindsie, Jaeda, and RockyWe pulled into Dixon around 1:00 p.m., dripping with sweat (again), exhausted from the hills (again), and with a broken wheel on Mike’s cart (again). The folks at First Baptist Church in Dixon welcomed us with open arms, which was a blessing. And then they went above and beyond in their blessings on us. For starters, Hollie, the church receptionist, was incredibly friendly, and she and the church pastor, Bobby, chatted with us for awhile. Then the youth pastor, Rocky, came in and we mentioned my broken cart wheel.

The Dawg House crewHollie and Rocky thought they’d have a solution, and they drove us over to the nearby auto/tire shop, Clark’s Tire Shop. One of their friends, Scott, offered to fix the wheel for us, and sure enough, 45 minutes later, our problem was solved (and once again, our prayer was answered). We were so, so thankful, because we wouldn’t have been traveling anywhere with a broken front wheel. Then, after my problem was solved, Rocky took us out to lunch at this delicious burger place called “The Dawg House,” which made fantastic burgers and even more fantastic fresh-cooked fries. Then they gave us each a Dawg House t-shirt! After that, Rocky drove us over to Split Ends Salon and surprised Lindsie by telling her the owner, Niki, wanted Lindsie to get a pedicure and foot massage. The pedicurist, Aleesha, did a fantastic job, and they also gave Lindsie a slight hair trim, which she was in desperate need of.

Niki and Aleesha (and Lindsie)Unfortunately, Lindsie wasn’t feeling the healthiest for a few days, and rather than making her try to walk 20+ miles with a swollen throat and stuffy nose, we decided to rest. During that time, we were continually blessed by the people in Dixon. Along with fellowship and conversation, a friend of Holly’s named Tracy brought us an always-welcome gift—new shoes. Tracy’s uncle, Dwayne, sells shoes and he was kind enough to donate a pair each to me and Lindsie. Tracy and her son, Hayden, dropped them off for us, and we were incredibly thankful.

That night, Hollie, her husband, Mike, and their two kids Alexis and Abygale, came over to hang out and serve us dinner. After dinner, we had an incredible night of fellowship. First of all, Mike wanted to bless me by washing my feet, which was a moving, spiritual experience. The prayer he gave was powerful, and the Holy Spirit was certainly moving in all of us. After that, Mike got oil and we anointed Lindsie and prayed over her for healing of her sickness. It was a truly amazing night.

Lindsie and the Shaugnessy familyThe next day, we decided to make at least some progress down the road. So we walked three miles to Mike and Hollie’s house. It was good to keep things simple, as Lindsie was feeling better but didn’t want to wear herself out with a long day of walking. After a delicious meal, we sat around and talked forever before going to bed.

The next morning we walked to nearby Jerome, where Mike had found us a vacation cabin owned by a friend where we could stay for the night. And because Jerome was only seven miles away, we were able to get picked up and go to church at First Baptist that same morning. The service was awe-inspiring. The pastor, Bobby, gave an amazing sermon and the entire church was moved and moving. And that’s putting it mildly. Lindsie and I felt so blessed just to be a part of such a spiritual experience. After that, we went out to eat with Mike and Hollie, came back to their place for a nap and dinner later on, and then went to Jerome for a night of sleep. The next day, we left the area to head toward Rolla, Missouri.

Pastor Bobby and his wife, Dianne, with Mike and LindsieBasically, the city of Dixon—and the members of the First Baptist Church, specifically—did everything in their power to make us fall in love with Dixon, and Lindsie and I agree that they succeeded.

And that is where we’ll leave off for now. We’ll be continuing to travel east as we head on down the road.

On a final note, since I’ve enjoyed sharing the verses I come across during my Bible studying, I wanted to share a new verse I recently came across. As usual, it applies to so many of the things that happened along our journey. The verse is Micah 7:7…

“As for me, I look to the Lord for help. I wait confidently for God to save me, and my God will certainly hear me.”

The road ahead of us...The Lord has heard our prayers during this walk, and he has certainly saved us when we needed help. This trip to Walmart and our fixed cart wheel are just the most recent examples of that. We want you to know that when you keep your faith in Christ (and wait confidently for Him to save you), you will be heard. And it’s a blessing to know that, and to be able to believe it with confidence.

Have a fantastic day. We’ll be back with another update soon.

-Mike and Lindsie

Saying Goodbye

Mike with Grandpa Jack (and Becky, Grandma Mary, Kelsey, Brooke, and Jake)As we mentioned in our last post, my (Mike’s) grandpa, Jack Billeter, wasn’t doing very well health-wise. Although we prayed for healing as his condition worsened, it seemed the Lord was ready to take him from us, and my grandpa passed away on Sunday, August 11th.

As sad as we were to hear the news, we were also concerned about whether or not we’d be able to attend the funeral. My grandparents (and most of the rest of my family) live in a smaller city in Illinois called Byron. Byron was about 7 ½ hours away from our location at that time; we didn’t have a vehicle (obviously), and walking there in time would have been tough/impossible.

Thankfully, God had things worked out for us. Mary, who we had stayed with back in Springfield for a few days, was willing to not only come pick us up wherever we were on the road, but she and her husband, Mike, were willing to let us borrow one of their two vehicles so that we could take it to Byron as long as we needed it.

We couldn’t believe how blessed we felt to know that was an option. And sure enough, as promised, Mary and Mark let us borrow a vehicle so we could travel up to Illinois. It’s amazing how God has all of the details figured out before we even know what’s going to happen.

We made it up to Byron the day before the visitation. Although it was a sad time, we were thankful that we could be surrounded by my incredible family—both my mom’s side and my dad’s side live in Byron—and that so many great people could come together to celebrate my grandpa’s life.

Trying to talk through thoughts and emotions in a blog post wouldn’t do it justice, but we were overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and support we received from friends and family during our time in Byron. We feel blessed to have such a loving family in our lives, and we’re thankful that my grandpa had so many people who cared about him and loved him.

Even though it’s hard, we know my grandpa is in a better place. We’re just so thankful that God gave us a way to be able to come to Illinois and say a final goodbye. Even in sadness, God is good.

We have another “on the trail” update coming up almost immediately (probably tomorrow), but we wanted to post this for those who may have been wondering what happened with my grandpa based on the information in the last post.

Thanks to everyone for your prayers and support. They are appreciated beyond words.

God bless.

-Mike (and Lindsie)

Into Missouri (and Other Adventures)

Welcome to Missouri!As we finished up the last blog post, the Storming Jericho crew was making its way toward Fort Scott, Kansas. Fort Scott was an awesome little city featuring a fun downtown, a cool area dedicated to historic Fort Scott, and some other neat buildings and features. Most importantly (to us, at least), it had a church that had told us we could spend the night. So thanks to United Missionary Baptist Church, we spent a safe night indoors, even though it was raining off and on all around us.

The next day we got up and headed out for Nevada, Missouri (pronounced nuh-vay-duh), knowing we had a church to stay at there as well. Thanks to Pastor Bill Platt at First Christian Church, we were all set. We crossed from Kansas into Missouri (crossing another state off of our “walked-across” list) and arrived after a 20-mile day just as it was starting to rain again. Pastor Bill told us we’d be staying in their “other building,” which just so happened to be a former ALDI grocery store. It was a huge, open space that had showers and a beautiful kitchen, both of which made our stay even more pleasant.

We went to sleep that night and woke up realizing that our bodies were once again trying to force us to take a break from walking. We were both exhausted, and when Pastor Bill came by to check on us the next morning, he was kind enough to say we could stick around and rest for a day. Needless to say, we were thankful.

New friends in Nevada, MO

On top of that, some of the people in the church office wanted to take us out to lunch (which is an invite we rarely, if ever, turn down). Around noon, two of the church receptionists, Mary and Barbara, and the youth pastor, Dana, came to grab us for lunch. Dana was with Dalton, one of the church youth group members, and later Dana’s wife Tonya and almost two-year-old daughter Talitha came to meet us at the restaurant. We had enjoyed delicious Mexican food there and also had some awesome conversation with everyone. All in all, it made for a fantastic lunch.

Game night!

We walked our gear over to Dana and Tonya’s house and pulled into their carport just as the rain started coming down around us. Once again, God was kind enough to let us reach cover before the rain began to fall. We spent the afternoon chatting with Tonya, watching episodes of Barney—Talitha’s show of choice—and playing with Talitha while we waited for Dana to get off work. Finally he did, and pretty soon it was time for game night. Dana and Tonya’s friends Mike and Tracy (and Tracy’s son Jeffrey) came over, and we ate pizza, played games, and just had a great night of fellowship. I should mention, unfortunately, that the girls won the games that were played, but the guys put up a valiant effort.After we finished eating, Lindsie and I headed back to the church to work on a few things. We had a really productive afternoon, and then Dana and Tonya came back around and invited us to come stay at their house for the night. They were going to be having some friends over for games, and the two of them were just such fun people that we couldn’t turn down their offer. Plus, their daughter Talitha is one of the most adorable children ever. No one on earth could have said no to that offer.

The most adorable child ever

At the conclusion of game night, it was pretty much time for bed. Linds and I were going to be getting up around 5:00 to head out, and it was getting late. We went to bed and woke up the next morning bright and early only to discover that Lindsie had gotten sick over the night. As much as we wanted to make progress down the road, a 20-mile walk in the summer while you’re sick isn’t exactly a delight. Thankfully, Dana and Tonya, who had joked repeatedly the day before that we should just stay another day, were ok with us waiting ONE more day in Nevada. We had another fun day with their family—including a DELICIOUS barbecue dinner at one of the restaurants in Nevada—which really only made it harder to leave the next morning. But we needed to make progress, whether we wanted to leave our new friends or not.

The next morning, Lindsie felt much better and we knew we were ready to move on. It was a sad goodbye, but we knew we’d be keeping in touch with Dana and Tonya, so it wasn’t too depressing. We waved goodbye and started walking down the road toward El Dorado Springs (pronounced doe-ray-doe…).

And that’s how Lindsie and I spent our 3-year anniversary—walking 20 miles down a highway in Missouri. Pretty much exactly how I always imagined I’d spend my 3-year anniversary with my wife. Except not at all. It’s funny where God takes you when you let Him take control of things.

D'ette and LindsieAnyway, we had originally thought we had a place to stay in El Dorado Springs, but the pastor who we’d originally set things up with told us he was going to be out of town so his church would be unavailable. We sort of had to scramble, and thankfully we got an answer from D’ette at the Church of God Holiness. D’ette told us she’d find us a place to stay or, if that was unsuccessful, we could stay at her house. We were thankful that God had prepared a backup for us, and it turned out to be a perfect situation.

We made it to El Dorado Springs that afternoon and the sun was definitely shining. It was a warm day, and the humidity made it even tougher. We got to D’ette’s house just in time for her to scrounge up a fantastic meal of chicken, mashed potatoes, green beans, and corn on the cob. She apologized for not having something better prepared for us and we laughed at her because it was a fantastic meal.

We enjoyed talking with D’ette for a few hours, and then it was time for a side trip that Lindsie and I had looked forward to for months—we were heading back down to Springfield, Missouri, to visit some of our friends from when we lived there before. Lindsie’s friend Mary drove up to El Dorado Springs to snag us and bring us back to her house (complete with guest bedroom, swimming pool, and hot tub). We were excited.

Pool party at Mary's!The next few days went by quickly. We visited my (Mike’s) friends and former co-workers from Evangel University, we had lunch with Lindsie’s former co-workers at Assembly of God Headquarters, we had a lunch with my former co-workers at Deep Group and got to share some of our stories with the entire group, we had a pool party at Mary’s with some fantastic barbecue prepared by Mary and her husband, Mike, and Lindsie’s friend Jessica drove down from Illinois to see us…well…mostly to see Lindsie. We also just spent tons of time enjoying tasty meals with Mary’s family and having good conversation with everybody.

Lindsie and RhondaUnfortunately, throughout all of this fun and excitement, my grandpa had not been doing particularly well health-wise. After being rushed to the hospital, he was in and out of consciousness and the doctors were doing everything they could to heal him. While I was writing this blog post, he was still hanging on. We were thankful, but it also made setting back out on the road difficult because we really didn’t know for sure whether we should head up to Illinois where all of this was happening or just get back to our walk. Eventually we decided that, as long as he was stable, we needed to continue walking. All that is to say, we ended up staying in Springfield a day or two longer than planned, but we finally made our way back to El Dorado Springs in order to start walking again.

New friends in Collins

As if God wanted to let us know He still had other plans for us, we woke up the next morning to a pretty brutal thunderstorm that also happened to include flash flood warnings throughout the county. As a result, we spent our first day back on the road waiting for better weather at D’ette’s house. Eventually the sun came back out, but it was late enough in the day that it wasn’t worth starting out on the road. Especially when we had a 23-mile walk to Collins, Missouri. So we relaxed, worked on a few things, and waited for D’ette to get home. When she did get home, she made us a fantastic dinner and spent the rest of the night telling stories and sharing about her life. It was an absolutely delightful evening.The next day we actually did get up and start walking. We were a little sad to be leaving our new friend, but we knew we had still more places to go and other people to meet. We said goodbye bright and early and started walking. The weather was still looking menacing, but it seemed to be going well. At least, it seemed to be going well at first. After a few miles, the thunder began to rumble and we got to enjoy a walk in the rain. On the plus side, the rain was much more refreshing than the heat that came later in the day.

More new friends in Collins

By the mid-afternoon, we were ready to be done. Thankfully we were only a few miles away from Collins, Missouri, which is where we’d be staying that night. Some members of the Coon Creek Baptist Church were going above and beyond for us, offering showers and inviting us over for dinner that night. Thanks to Norman and his wife, Mary, and Justen, his wife Lesley, and their two kids Lily and Jackson, we had a really fun night. Along with the great conversation, Lesley made some FANTASTIC spaghetti, complemented by garlic toast, salad, homemade ice cream (for everyone but lactose-intolerant Mike) and chocolate cookies made using applesauce instead of egg (for egg-allergic Lindsie).

That night, Norman made us promise that if the weather was stormy the next day, we wouldn’t try to walk through thunder and lightning. Thankfully, when we walked out of the garage at 5:30 a.m., the weather was beautiful. The sun was coming up through the clouds and everything looked picturesque and ready for walking.

For about the first hour and a half. Then the storm moved up behind us and suddenly we were getting absolutely poured on. After hiding out in a covered church entryway in Weableau (about 6 miles down the road) for about 30 minutes, we realized we’d need to keep walking if we were ever going to finish this walk. We kept moving, and pretty much got rained on non-stop for four straight hours.

Lindsie with her cool shoe covers.

And after about the fourth hour, Lindsie looked over at me and said, “I’m tired of being soaked.” Rather than hiding out in the tent (which we would’ve had to do back in the desert), we called our new friend Lesley, who got in touch with Justen and Norman for us. After a short break, they came out and picked us up in Norman’s truck. It was fantastic to have a place to return where we could be dry and warm again. We had made it 11 miles that day, but we still had almost 12 miles to go before we’d arrive at our next stop, Pomme de Terre United Methodist Church.
We reached the church after a pretty tough day where the humidity picked up quickly. Linds and I were dripping with sweat when we reached the parsonage next to the church, but the pastor, Ellen, had been kind enough to leave a jug of ice water underneath the shade of the patio table on the back porch. While we waited for Ellen and her husband, Ron, to arrive home, Linds and I sat and sipped on cold water, thankful to be done for the day.Norman told us he’d drop us back off where we got picked up the next morning, so we decided to just enjoy the extended time we got to spend with Norman, Mary, Justen, Lesley, and their kids. The next morning was absolutely GORGEOUS and none of us had qualms about resuming our walk. After saying another sad goodbye to Norman, we pushed on using some back roads to reach Pomme de Terre United Methodist Church just south of Hermitage, Missouri.

Mike trying to stay dry (with bags on his feet)

Ron got back a little after we arrived and let us inside. We were thankful to be indoors and even more thankful when he offered us sandwiches, fresh fruit, and chips for lunch. We sat and talked for a while before Ellen returned home. With her was her friend, Patty, who happened to pastor the Christian Church in Hermitage. We talked for a few minutes while Patty and Ellen gushed over Jaeda’s cuteness and asked questions about our walk. Then Patty headed home and Ellen and Ron started to prepare dinner. We found out there would be nine of us there having dinner, and we were excited to meet so many new people. After showers and a little rest, people started arriving.

The meal was fantastic, and the conversation was even better. Although Lindsie and I shared quite a few stories from our journey, the group had plenty of their own stories to share as well and we felt blessed to be able to hear them. It’s always a treat to hear the ways God is blessing others, especially when it happens in amazing ways. Thanks to Ron, Ellen, Patty, Tim, Jo, Dick, and Jerry, we had a great night of fellowship and spiritual strengthening.

The Hermitage crew

The next morning we had to head out, but this post has already gotten far too long, so we’ll have to resume with another post in the very, very near future. There’s been plenty that happened since our time spent in Hermitage, so I’ll be hurrying to get the next update posted.

Also, since I enjoyed sharing the verses from Isaiah that I included in the last post, I thought I’d share another one that I read recently. That Isaiah guy sure knew what he was talking about. As the Bible tells us in Isaiah 54:10…

“For the mountains may move and the hills disappear, but even then my faithful love for you will remain. My covenant of blessing will never be broken,” says the Lord, who has mercy on you.

Sometimes it’s just nice to know that, no matter what happens in life, God is always going to be there for us (no matter which mistakes we make or which challenges we face).

Thanks for reading, and we’ll have another update here much sooner than later. Be blessed!

-Mike, Lindsie, and Jaeda