Welcome to Wild and Wonderful West Virginia

Clear and beautiful skies ahead of us!We’re finally back! Sorry for the delay. Some computer issues (which you’ll read about later) set us back a few days on the blog updates. Anyway, our last post left off with the Storming Jericho crew heading east along Highway 50 after leaving the incredible friends we’d made at Calvary Assembly of God Church in McArthur, Ohio. Thankfully, as you might have guessed, the blessings haven’t slowed down since leaving McArthur.

Mike and JimOur first stop after McArthur was Albany, Ohio. Unfortunately, we hadn’t been able to get ahold of any churches in Albany, Ohio, so Linds and I were sort of getting desperate. At least, we had been until Tammy from Calvary Assembly made some phone calls and got us connected with Pastor Jim from Living Water Worship Center, just a little west of Albany. Jim was great, and even though he wasn’t free the night we were getting there, he left the church open for us and told us to make ourselves at home. And on top of that, Tammy stopped by to drop off her famous chicken and noodles along with some tasty mashed potatoes, so we had a warm, home-cooked meal waiting for us when we arrived. Talk about being blessed.

Linds and I had a great night of rest, and the next morning we had an opportunity to chat with Pastor Jim (awesome), to see Pastor Carl again when he came to drop off a package of ours that had been sent to McArthur (also awesome), and to speak with the church receptionist, Bonnie (also also awesome). By the time we left, we had been filled with the spirit so much that we felt like we could fly.

Bonnie and Lindsie

From Albany, we pushed our way on toward the South Canaan Baptist Church near Guysville, Ohio. Lindsie and I were sort of desperately hoping for the church to give us a call back, because it was basically the only stopping point between Albany and Little Hocking, which is just about a 40 mile stretch. So when we got a thumbs up from Pastor Monty and his wife, Missy, we were overjoyed. We reached Guysville that evening and were welcomed by their huge family of 7 (and their oldest son’s wife to go along with the rest of the group). Dinner was ready when we pulled in, and we were all ready to eat. We got to know Monty and Missy, as well as their kids Ryan (and his wife, Brianna), Cory, Noah, Chloe, and Ethan. It was awesome getting to talk with them, hear their stories, and generally just soak in the idea of raising FIVE kids (which is a tiny bit terrifying to me).

Quite a family. And Lindsie.

Unfortunately, the next morning meant we needed to go, and extra unfortunately, it was going to be a very rainy day. We left from their house around 8:30, and by 9:30 it was raining. And it never stopped raining. So by the time we pulled up to the parsonage next to the Little Hocking Church of God in Little Hocking, Ohio, we were ready to be done walking for the day. Even though we have waterproof jackets, Linds and I felt cold and wet all over. But we were blessed to have a fantastic place to sleep thanks to Pastor Josh and his wife Deborah. And thanks to some of the wonderful members of the Little Hocking Church of God, we had a meal waiting for us when we arrived. We inhaled the food and enjoyed getting to know Josh, Deborah, and their kids, JT and Joseph. Then, after some tasty cake for dessert, it was time for sleep.

Lindsie with Joseph, Pastor Josh, JT, and Debbie

The next morning we were all set to go. Sort of. But when we looked out the window and saw nothing but pouring rain, then checked the forecast and saw that rain would be pouring down all day, we decided to beg Pastor Josh to let us stay an extra night in their basement, and he and Deborah were kind enough to say yes. And as an added bit of excitement, we were going to be able to attend the Thursday night church service the church holds.

As we rested throughout the day, Lindsie began to suffer from the oncoming of a migraine. And try as we did to fight it off, the migraine still reared its ugly head. As a result, Lindsie wasn’t able to attend the Thursday night service, but I did and it rocked the house. The congregation rocked out with some great music, and then Pastor Josh kept the Holy Spirit moving with a powerful message. All in all, it made for a great night, capped off with some tasty pizza for dinner. It really doesn’t get much better than that, right?

West Virginia!The next day was much, much less rainy and miserable, so Lindsie and I actually set out toward our next stop—Murphytown United Methodist Church in Murphytown, West Virginia. That’s right, we left Ohio and made our way into West Virginia. And thanks to Pastor Mary at the church, we had a place to stay exactly where we needed one, which was a HUGE blessing. It was similar to the Guysville situation, where we really didn’t have many options, and Pastor Mary came through in the clutch.

When we got to the church, which was a lovely little church, we walked in to find dinner already waiting for us. We had a rotisserie chicken and salad in the fridge, and Pastor Mary had dropped off all kinds of stuff for us to eat for breakfast the next morning. We basically had a feast on our hands, and it didn’t take us long to dive in.

Later that night, Lindsie fell asleep early and Pastor Mary stopped by to visit us. She and I chatted for a few delightful minutes, and then she was off again and it was time for me to go to bed as well. The next morning was the start of a BIG day for us—23.5 miles to Ellenboro, West Virginia. And that’s 23.5 miles of walking in the foothills of the Appalachians. So…yeah…it was going to be a tough day.

Our Ellenboro rescuers!We got moving pretty early the next morning and started cranking away toward Ellenboro. Although we hadn’t had any success initially when it came to finding a church to stay at in Ellenboro, God had a different plan. After we emailed the Ellenboro Fire Department about possibly staying there, the Fire Department receptionist, Susie, emailed back and said she would be figuring something out for us. We weren’t exactly sure what was going to happen, but we were thankful somebody was trying to help us.

After a pretty brutal day of walking that included some big hills, very cloudy skies, and plenty of cold and miserable rain, we finally limped our way into Ellenboro, looking about as pathetic as two cross-country walkers can look. And Susie met us right in town with a plan to lift our spirits. We’d be staying at the Pennsboro United Methodist Church just a few miles down the road, and then Susie would bring us back to our carts in the morning so we could take off from Ellenboro again. After dropping off our carts at her son, Jay’s, house, we had a quick interview with Julia from the local newspaper. We had fun chatting with her and answering her questions, and then it was off to dinner.

Dinner was also delicious. Lindsie and I got to enjoy a piping hot meal with Susie and her father, Dave, Pastor Kelly from the church, and Susie’s sister, Carol Ann. We had a blast just chatting with everyone and stuffing our faces with warm, tasty food. Then it was time for bed. After our day of wet, cold walking, our warm sleeping bags were calling our names.

Mike, Sharon, and PaulAs much as we wanted to stay for church that morning, we had to roll out down the road. We had lost a day when we rested in Little Hocking, which meant we had to make it up by skipping our usual Sunday rest day. We chatted with some people at the church that morning, then said goodbye and made our way toward West Union. Paul and Sharon, the directors of the American Discovery Trail in West Virginia, had been following our journey almost from the beginning, and they were excited to have us come to their house for a night.

After a much-less-miserable-than-the-day-before day of walking, we got to West Union and were excited to see Paul waiting for us in his truck. He and Sharon lived a few miles off of 50, so after a short ride to their house, we pulled in to the driveway and started unloading. There was cold lemonade waiting for us, and the delicious meal Sharon had cooked was filling up the entire house with a very appealing aroma. After we took showers, Linds and I settled in with Paul and Sharon to devour our meal. After dinner and some pleasant conversation, we got ready to head toward Salem, West Virginia. Thankfully, Paul and Sharon had offered to pick us up near Salem and bring us back to their house for a second night, which meant we only had to push one mostly empty cart through the foothills instead of two completely full carts. We accepted the offer (with gratitude).

A sweet sign just outside of Salem...After a chilly day of walking toward Salem, we were picked up again for another wonderful evening with Paul and Sharon. They took us out to eat with Sharon’s sister, Barb, and her husband, Mike, and then it was back to Paul and Sharon’s for dessert and another great night of sleep. While we were sad to say goodbye to them, we were glad to be making progress down the road. We knew winter was getting closer, and that was part of our burning desire to keep things moving.

The next day featured a slight change of plans and schedule. Originally we were going to spend a night in Clarksburg, West Virginia, at our friend Gary Mitchell’s church. Gary is a walker himself, and he’s been following our journey for several months. We were pumped about finally meeting him, but we had a slight problem—Gary’s church is about 3-4 miles off of Highway 50. Which would have made our next day of walking to Grafton, West Virginia, a 25-mile or so day. And most of the time, that’s too many miles for us. Especially when we are making our way into the mountains.

Gary's mom, Gary, and MikeAs a result, we told Gary we were going to try to find a place to stay in Bridgeport, which is a few miles past Clarksburg and actually happens to be on Highway 50. That would make our walk to Grafton only about 18 miles, which was a much more appealing distance. We called a couple of churches, and, thankfully, Pastor Ryan from the Bridgeport Church of Christ said we could stay at their church. We were calling on pretty short notice, so we were thankful he was willing to open his doors to us. So after Paul dropped us back off where we’d left off the day before, we set off for Bridgeport.

The day went really well, even if the air was getting a little chilly. We had one high-traffic stretch that was a little stressful, but other than that it was smooth sailing. We pulled up to the church around 4:30 or so, and we found Raymond, one of the church elders, waiting for us to let us in and show us around. We also found Gary waiting for us. He had offered to take us to dinner since we hadn’t gotten to connect in Clarksburg, and we were thankful for both of them. After showing us around, Raymond headed out and we went with Gary to grab dinner at Bob Evans. His original plan was Outback, but we’d never tried Bob Evans and it was pretty close, so we gave it a shot. And it was pretty tasty, if we do say so ourselves.

We enjoyed a great night of conversation with Gary and got a chance to meet his lovely mother as well. Then we headed back to the church. We got a few things done and then started to prepare for bed. Around 9:30 that night, Pastor Ryan arrived at the church to say hello. He had been out of town when we arrived earlier, and we were thankful to get to chat with him. We ended up talking for about two hours, which was great. The time just flew by.

Jaeda, Lindsie, Megan, Millie Cate, Carson, Ranger, and RyanWe went to sleep, fully expecting to be up and walking the next morning. But when we woke up, it was raining, and it looked like there was absolutely no chance the rain would stop. We contemplated staying an extra day, and our contemplations were confirmed when, a few minutes later, Mike accidentally dropped his laptop and broke the screen (talk about a bummer). At that point, with the rain, the computer repair needs, a few shopping needs, and the general dreariness of the day, we just decided to take an extra rest day in Bridgeport. And we were very glad we did. Because it rained literally ALL day long.

After running our errands thanks to Ryan’s hospitality, we made our way out to his house to meet his wife, Megan, and their kids, Carson and Millie Cate. We had a wonderful lunch with them, got ourselves some showers, and got to know their family better. Then we had a few more hours to get things done back at the church. Following that, we had dinner plans and a Wednesday night church service we would get to attend. We were excited, both for dinner and for fellowship.

The night was great, and then we went back to spend an evening at Ryan and Megan’s. We enjoyed a tasty dessert at their house, then got some much-needed sleep. It was a busy day, after all. The next morning we had a 16-mile day to Grafton from Bridgeport, and we were VERY thankful we made it a shorter day. Why? Because we got snowed on. A lot.

Lindsie and the newfound snow...We started walking in what appeared to be pretty sunny weather. But as the day went on, the clouds continued to creep out. Before we knew it, the sky was gray, and a few minutes later, the snow started to fall. At first we weren’t considered. It was a light snow, and it melted pretty quickly. We were getting chilly, but we have warm gear with us, so it wasn’t too bad. But a few hours later, it started coming down both more rapidly and more stickily. Pretty soon, we had a good inch of snow on our carts, and our coats and shoes were wet and cold. It wasn’t exactly a “fun” day of walking. After a couple more hours, we pulled up to the Fetterman United Methodist Church in Grafton, West Virginia. Pastor Eddie happens to be the father of Pastor Kelly (from Pennsboro United Methodist), so we already had that connection and were excited to reach his oasis of a church. The heater was running and hot cocoa awaited us inside. Saying we were thankful for Pastor Eddie and his wife, Sue, would be an understatement.

Sue, Pastor Eddie, Lindsie, and MikeThe next morning was much, much brighter and cheerier than the day before had been. We were able to wake up, get packed, and start moving bright and early for Fellowsville, which was sort of a middle of nowhere place. Thankfully, the Assembly of God church there was willing to put us up for a night, so we said a prayer of thanks that God provided us a place to stay in the middle of nowhere and we got moving. Although it was definitely getting cold, the sun was shining and we felt good. But as the altitude climbed, the temperature dropped. On top of that, the clouds came out and started to cover up the sun. Just when we were starting to get uncomfortably cold, we more or less stumbled right into the church. Pastor Jason welcomed us, and even though there was a wedding rehearsal that night and a wedding ceremony the next day, he was kind enough to let us stay at the church anyway, which was a major blessing. Mostly because we wouldn’t have had anywhere else to go if we couldn’t stay there.

Pastor Jason and MikeAfter a great night of sleep at the church, we set out for a day Lindsie had been dreading—the final MAJOR mountain climbs of our journey. For the past several weeks, we’d been getting closer and closer to a climb up into the Appalachians, and the two mountains left in our way, Laurel Mountain and Cheat Mountain, were finally before us. On top of the fact that we had two steep (as in, mostly 9% grade steep), several hundred foot climbs ahead of us, we also had a 21-mile day of walking to go with it. Needless to say, it was going to be a tough one.

And on that cliffhanger of a note, we’re going to end this post. The good news is that there is still plenty of awesome stuff to share, so be ready for the next post soon. It definitely won’t take as long now that my computer screen has been replaced and I’m back in action behind the keyboard.

Fall has fallen!Thanks for reading and extra thanks for the continued encouragement and prayers. We only have about 300 total miles to go before we’re done with this journey, so the end is very much in sight. We are looking forward to sharing more as we finish this adventure.

Be blessed, and we’ll be back with another update before you know it.

-Mike, Lindsie, and Jaeda

Staying Blessed Across Ohio

The road ahead of us gets more beautiful by the day...After crossing into Ohio in our last post, we’re continuing to make progress through the Buckeye State. Every day brings us closer to the East Coast, and we are getting more and more excited with each step. Of course, there are still plenty of wonderful people to meet and incredible things to experience as we go.

As we mentioned before, we were just getting ready to leave our old friends Christina and Brian in Cincinnati in order to make our way toward Milford, Ohio. Thanks to a friend our fellow cross-country walkers Josh and Kerri had met during their walk, we had a place to stay when we reached the Milford area. Eric and Tammy and their daughters Abigail and Amber had hosted Josh and Kerri last year, and they were pumped to have us over to their house as well. Even they lived closer to nearby Owensville, they were more than happy to come pick us up in Milford when we got there.

Mike and Linsdie with Tammy and Eric's familyAfter a good day of walking out of Cincinnati, we hit Milford in the early evening. Tammy was eager to pick us up and get us a heaping plate of Cincinnati-style chili, which Lindsie and I both devoured immediately. Then it was back to their house—which was actually in Owensville, about 10 miles ahead of us on our route—for the night. But not before a few more cart repairs.

If you’ve been reading the blog the past few weeks, you’ll know that our carts are struggling to stay together at this point. They’re on their last legs, to say the least (I’m starting to feel like they are going to fall apart—like the car at the end of Blues Brothers—when we finally do stop walking), and Lindsie’s cart further proved that fact when part of its frame snapped on our way to Eric and Tammy’s. Lindsie was at least able to limp it all the way to our stopping point for the day where Tammy had picked us up. We were then blessed beyond belief to discover that God had put yet ANOTHER welding-capable, machine-fixing mechanic in our path. After taking an initial look at things, Eric grabbed Lindsie’s cart and said he’d be back in a little while.

Laurel, Fran and Mike

We went inside, got showered, and got ready for a fun night of conversation before we would head out the next morning. After showers were done, Eric came back and showed us a flawless welding job that made the frame look (and feel) as good as new. We were thankful. And tired. After some tasty dessert, we said goodnight and got ready for the next day.

But when the next day came, we weren’t quite ready. We just had a few more things to get figured out than we had realized, and Tammy and Eric were kind enough to let us stay another day and night at their house. After getting many things checked off of our to-do list, we had a fantastic dinner with the family and enjoyed a great night of conversation. After that, the plan truly was to get up and go the next morning.

And we did. Sort of. Unfortunately, it was an extremely rainy day. So after Tammy dropped us back off to start walking, we only made it about 10 miles. And, in a funny twist of fate, we just ended up walking to Tammy and Eric’s house, which is right along Highway 50. And when we got there, dripping wet and struggling with more cart issues, they welcomed us in to dry off, warm up, and get our carts re-re-re-repaired. That night we were able to go to an evening church service with them, as well as enjoy another tasty dinner and dessert. Once again, we were happy.

Mike, Susan, and Lindsie

The next morning, we finally left Eric and Tammy’s house for good. Thanks to our friends Mark and Nancy from Sioux Falls, South Dakota, we had a place to stay in Fayetteville, Ohio. Nancy’s sister, Laurel, lives in Fayetteville with her husband, Fran. After a few days of delays with Tammy and Eric, Laurel and Fran were ready for us to get there, and we ended up having a great night. Tasty food and good conversation made for a fun evening, and we were thankful to Laurel and Fran for opening up their home to us on our journey.

The sunrise brought breakfast with it, and after eating some food in the morning, we said goodbye to Laurel and made our way toward Hillsboro First United Methodist Church in Hillsboro, Ohio. But before that, we still had to walk through Fayetteville. And while we were taking a rest near a strip mall in town, we met Susan, who demanded that we let her buy us a cheese coney at Skyline Chili. It was an offer we couldn’t refuse, and we were glad we didn’t refuse it. The coneys were delicious, and we enjoyed chatting with Susan and getting to pray for her. On top of that, we even had a chance to pray for our waitress, which was a double-blessing. After that, we moved on toward Hillsboro.

Rodney, Debbie and Lindsie

Debbie, the receptionist at Hillsboro First United Methodist, had figured out a place for us to stay inside the church, which was a wonderful blessing. On top of that, she brought her husband, Rodney, and their little one-year-old Yorkie to greet us. After making sure we were all squared away, we had a little time to shower, make some sandwiches, and settle in for the evening, which was perfect.

The next morning we set off for Bainbridge, Ohio, where Pastor Steve Alexander at the Bainbridge Church of Christ was welcoming us with open arms. After a full day of walking, we pulled up to the church and were pleasantly surprised to find out that a meal had been left for us for dinner. And there was homemade fudge to go along with it! We talked with Pastor Steve for awhile, and then it was time for Bible study, which we appreciated and enjoyed. After a good time of fellowship, we got some much-needed rest in Bainbridge. The next morning, Pastor Steve took us to breakfast at the nearby Bainbridge Café, where we loaded up on energy for the day’s walk.

Lindsie and Pastor SteveFrom Bainbridge it was on to Chillicothe, Ohio. The First Christian Church of Chillicothe was kind enough to say “yes” to our request for a place to stay. Not only that, but they went above and beyond, offering to put us up in the house of a couple from their church. After a full day of walking, and a reintroduction to the hills we hadn’t seen for a few hundred miles, Glen met us to take us to his house. He and his wife, Carolyn, were the willing volunteers who offered to host us, and they made us feel right at home. With delicious food, a comfortable bed, and a great night of conversation, we didn’t have much more we could ask for. They also had some friends over to join us, including Pastor Alan from the church, as well as the church receptionist, Regina and her husband, Brooks. It was an awesome night all around.

Our next stop was going to be Londonderry, Ohio, but we hadn’t found a church in Londonderry take us in or even call us back at all. As a result, Glen and Carolyn offered to just drive out and pick us up after we walked to Londonderry, returning us to their house for the night. After the great night of sleep we’d gotten the night before and the delicious meal the two of them had prepared, we jumped on the opportunity to stay at their house again. So we walked to Londonderry in beautiful, sunny weather and waited for Glen and Carolyn to come back and snag us after our day of walking. Chillicothe has a ton of history (and was Ohio’s first AND third state capital), so they drove us around to tour the town before we headed home.

Glen, Brooks, Carolyn, Regina, Pastor Alan, Lindsie, and Jaeda

That night, they invited their neighbor over to have dinner and meet us. Their neighbor, Peggy, is 92 years old, and just so happens to have grown up in Watertown, South Dakota, where Lindsie is from. She and Lindsie exchanged stories and memories and had fun sharing the connection only two people from Watertown, South Dakota, can share.

The next day, Glen and Carolyn made another tasty breakfast and dropped us off in Londonderry, as we all said sad goodbyes. As much fun as it was getting to know them, we still had progress to make. So onward we pushed, to McArthur, Ohio. Carl, the pastor at Calvary Assembly of God Church in McArthur, had invited us to stay with them (with absolutely no hesitation, I might add), and we were excited to be there. Both because we love meeting new people and because we were planning to make Sunday a rest day, and rest days are a welcome blessing on a cross-country walk.

Peggy and LindsieWe got to the church on Saturday afternoon, and Pastor Carl let us into the auxiliary building where we’d be staying. With a kitchen, bathrooms, and plenty of space for sleeping, we couldn’t have been more thankful. We chatted with Pastor Carl for awhile, got a few things done, and then got ready for bed. The next morning was church, and we were delighted to be at a full, Sunday morning service. We hadn’t had a chance to catch one in a few weeks, and we were looking forward to it.

The music at Calvary Assembly of God is amazing. The worship team rocked the house, and not in the “It’s a big production and it’s all about us” way that a lot of churches tend to do it these days. This was just some soul-shaking, give-the-praise-to-God music that really got things going. And after the music, we had a chance to go speak with the youth group kids about our journey. It was fun to be sharing stories and answering the types of questions that only youth kids can come up with.

After church, we went out to eat with the high school youth group leader, Tom, his wife, Janelle, and their two kids, Abrianna and Dakyra. The meal was delicious, and we enjoyed a great conversation in the process. Then it was back to the church for a few hours of rest and a chance to get a few things checked off our to-do list.

Lindsie with the Calvary youth group

Around 6:00 p.m., it was time for the evening service, and it was by far one of the most moving experiences we’ve had on this entire journey. It started once again with some fantastic worship, and when worship was done we gathered to hear Pastor Carl preach—and preach he did. In a service that had people on their feet praising Jesus, had people praying prayers of gratitude and prayers of healing, and had tears flowing down just about everybody’s faces, a room full of people got to experience the Holy Spirit moving, and it was incredible.

The Calvary Assembly of God crew at Sunday night worship

After the service, we walked next door to the McDonald’s with other church members to enjoy a post-service dessert. We got to enjoy more fellowship, more stories, and more joy for the evening. Then, unfortunately, it was time for bed. Although we were sad to leave, we knew we had to keep moving down the road. Thankfully, Janelle dropped off biscuits and gravy for us to eat for breakfast, which was a great way to start the morning. And with that, we will wrap this post up. We are still heading east on Highway 50, and we’re less than 500 miles away from our goal, so we just keep getting closer and closer and God keeps providing for us every step of the way. We are beyond blessed, for sure.

We’ll have another update soon! Until then, here’s an encouraging verse from Hebrews. It’s Hebrews 12:12, and it says…

“So take a new grip with your tired hands, and strengthen your weak knees. Mark out a straight path for your feet so that those who are weak and lame will not fall but become strong.”

As our hands and knees continue to get tired, God gives us the strength to take a new grip. We still have plenty of people to share God’s goodness with, and that’s an energizing thought. We hope it energizes you too.

Be blessed!

-Mike, Lindsie, and Jaeda

Saying Hi to Ohio

More awesome nature beauty from LindsieWhen we left off in our last post, we were getting ready to hit Bedford, Indiana, after having a great time meeting people across Illinois and Indiana. Thanks to Reverend Beth Ann at First United Methodist Church in Bedford, we had a hot meal waiting for us when we got to town, and a warm bed to sleep in after we finished dinner.

One thing that made the walk to Bedford easier was the fact that our friend from Wheatland, Indiana, Pastor Brent, offered to drive our carts up ahead of us to Bedford so we wouldn’t have to push them through the hills and curves on the way. Any chance we have to lessen our load through the hills, we’ll take it.

Thanks to David and Tracey in Bedford, Pastor Brent had a place to leave the carts. All we had to do was show up and grab them on the way to Beth Ann’s house. After a full day of walking (and carrying Jaeda in her adorable puppy harness), we made it to David and Tracey’s in the early afternoon. We stopped to get our stuff, and they—and their delightful kids, Steven and Sarah—came out to greet us and pour out all kinds of blessings. Along with friendly conversation, they offered us Gatorades, food, and more. Our only regret was that we couldn’t spend more time chatting with them all. Reverend Beth Ann had a hot meal waiting, and we still had about 30 minutes of walking to go.

Mike, excited to be wearing Jaeda in the puppy harness

So we said goodbye, wishing we could have spent more time with David, Tracey, Steven, and Sarah, but also excited to eat the pot roast that awaited us. We pulled up to Beth Ann’s after a 22+ mile day, and couldn’t wait to dive into the tasty dinner she had prepared. After an introduction to her cats and a look at our room, we took very quick showers and got ready to devour our meal. Needless to say, we were more than satisfied. All kinds of side dishes, tender pot roast, and beyond-delicious desserts made by some of her congregation members left us almost too full to think. But we still managed to find the energy to have a fantastic conversation about faith, Ebenezer Stones, and our adventures on this journey.

The next morning, the plan was to make our way toward Brownstown, Indiana (a 24-mile journey), in order to stay at the Brownstown Christian Church. But as we’ve learned several times on this journey, sometimes God has plans that are different from ours. And when that is the case, God’s plans usually win over our own.

Lindsie, Mike, and Beth Ann

We set out that morning as planned, but Lindsie was feeling particularly stressed for some reason. We weren’t sure what the deal is, but we just didn’t feel “right,” as we left. After a few miles, Tracey (who had guarded our carts for us the day before) came by to drop off a load of fresh fruit, more drinks, and other snacks for our walk. As Tracey and Lindsie talked, the two both started talking about how they wish we’d all had a chance to spend more time together. That led to hugs and tears, and before I even knew what was happening, we were planning on getting picked up to stay at David and Tracey’s that night at the end of our walking day.

After putting in about 10 good miles of walking, Tracey came by to bring us back to their house. We hung out, waiting to surprise Steven and Sarah when they arrived home from school. Needless to say, they weren’t expecting to see the weird cross-country walkers sitting on the couch when they got home. We had fun chatting with the three of them (David was still at work), and then it was time for dinner. Because along with a nice place to stay, their family wanted to take us out to eat. Sarah’s vote was for Golden Corral, and Sarah’s vote seemed to be the deciding factor. We hit up Golden Corral, in all of its fully-stocked buffet majesty. When you’re walking across the country, there’s nothing wrong with some buffet action for dinner, to say the least.

Steven, Tracey, Sarah, David, Lindsie, and Jaeda

Besides the food, we were happy because David was able to come join us at Golden Corral for dinner. Even though our time with David wasn’t long, we enjoyed getting to chat with him for at least a few minutes. Once we were too stuffed to eat another bite, we left Golden Corral and made a stop at Walmart in order to pick up a few supplies. Then it was back home for a few episodes of Duck Dynasty and then a solid night of rest, which we took full advantage of.

The next morning, David dropped us back off where we’d ended the day before. We said a sad goodbye and then moved on toward Brownstown, where the church had found a place for us to stay that night AND was going to let us share a little bit about our journey with their Bible study group. But before we got to Brownstown, we received some exciting news: friends we had met ALL the way back in Utah last summer were driving through Indiana and wanted to meet up with us for dinner in Brownstown. Talk about crazy, right?

Lindsie, Susan, Chuck, and Mike

So with plenty of excitement, we walked to Brownstown, arriving at the church in the late afternoon. A few minutes after we got situated at the church, Chuck and Susan pulled up to take us to lunch. It was crazy seeing them again, as we had originally met them on a lengthy stretch of walking through Capitol Reef National Park where they were RV camping. To have them show up again in Indiana was an unexpected blessing, to say the least.

We ate a delicious meal at a Mexican restaurant in town, and just enjoyed the conversation and fellowship as we got to know both Chuck and Susan better. It was a treat, for sure. And the next time we are in Texas (where they live), we know where we’ll be staying. Unfortunately, we eventually had to say goodbye, but we’re certain we’ll come across each other’s path in the future.

We got to church just in time for Pastor Brian to introduce us to members and guests at the church during dinner. Then we went up to the sanctuary and had a chance to share some of our story with the congregation and answer a few questions as well. It was a blast getting to chat with people and hear the questions they had on their minds. Plus, I always enjoy watching Lindsie speak in front of people. She does a wonderful job. And she’s pretty too.

Much of the Brownstown Christian Church crewAfter our Q&A, we had a chance to do an interview with a reporter from the Seymour Tribune (Seymour being a nearby town). We haven’t had a chance to read the story yet, but you can read the preview by clicking here. Then when the interview was over, we made our way toward Pastor Brian’s Bible study room for a study on fasting, which was really insightful and informative.

That night, we stayed at Associate Minister Doug Pogue’s house. He and his wife, Shawn, were kind enough to give us their guest bedroom, which made for a fantastic night of comfortable sleep. The next morning, Pastor Brian, his family, Pastor Doug, and a few other people from the church met us for breakfast at a nearby restaurant. It made for a fantastic start to our morning, even if we were sad to be leaving.

Lydia, Pastor Scott, Terri, Lindsie, and MikeWe began walking toward Seymour, Indiana. Even though the weather was threatening us, we prayed to stay dry and God answered our prayer. We arrived at Peace Lutheran Church in Seymour, Indiana, in the early afternoon. It was a short day, which made the walk even more pleasant. It also gave us a chance to grab lunch with Pastor Scott, his wife, Terri, and their youngest daughter, Lydia. We really enjoyed getting to know them better and learning about the church and the wonderful work they’re doing in their community. After lunch, Lindsie and I found some time to catch up on a few things we had fallen behind on. Before we knew it, bedtime had hit and we were getting ready for the next day’s adventures.

Sharlot and Lindsie

The next stop on the map was North Vernon, Indiana, where we’d be staying at St. Mary’s Catholic Church. One of the church’s receptionists, Sharlot, had invited us to stay in one of their buildings for the night, and we were thankful yet again. Sharlot was awesome, and we had fun talking with her before we got settled in for the evening. After a tasty lasagna dinner with Reverend Meyer at the church (where he was also hosting a dinner for the high school cross country team he coaches), we called it a night and got some sleep.

Versailles (pronounced verr-sales), Indiana, was the next stop on the map. Unfortunately, we hadn’t been able to find any churches in the area willing to host us for a night, so we posted on Facebook that we were having some issues finding a place to stay. Thankfully, a friend from South Dakota who is following our journey, Kathy, offered to pay for a room at the hotel in Versailles. We were incredibly thankful, as our next best option was to camp on the side of the road somewhere, hoping it wasn’t private property. So with much thanks, we rested at the motel, ate a tasty meal at nearby Ernie’s Pizza, and slept like rocks.

Lindsie, Mike, Carrie, Dan, and Jim

From Versailles, we headed to Aurora, Indiana, to meet Pastor Dan from First United Methodist Church. Pastor Dan was awesome. He’s a younger guy very much into backpacking and hiking, so our journey had him intrigued, to say the least. Pastor Dan informed us that the church’s organist, Jim, was going to put us up in his beautiful bed & breakfast for the night. Obviously, we were thankful. After we got to the church (which is beautiful and is part of the National Register of Historic Places), Pastor Dan asked if he could take us out to eat. We made our way toward a tasty Mexican restaurant nearby and were joined by Dan’s wife, Carrie, as well as Jim, our host for the evening. After a really fun conversation, it was just about time for bed. We got to the bed and breakfast, enjoyed all of the history Jim had collected to decorate the house, and then fell asleep hard in a very comfortable bed.

Welcome to Ohio indeedThe next day was an exciting one—we were going to cross another state off our list as we left Indiana and walked into Ohio. Thankfully, Whitewater Crossing Christian Church in Cleves, Ohio, had offered to take care of us for a night, so we already knew we had a nice place to stay. We crossed over the river into Ohio and pushed on toward the church, excited for another comfortable night of sleep and the prospect of more fellowship at the Bible study taking place that evening.

We reached the church in the early afternoon, and Diane was there to show us to the building we’d be staying in (which had a shower—always nice after a day of walking). Then Diane was kind enough to show us around the area, including a few ridiculously beautiful spots high up on a hill that overlooked the valley. Calling it majestic wouldn’t do it justice. Then that night we made some spaghetti for dinner and enjoyed a Bible study with several women from the church.

The Whitewater Crossing Bible study group

The next morning we set out for Cincinnati, where we had something amazing in store for us—our friend Christina from ALL the way back in Newton, Kansas, had just moved to Cincinnati with her husband, Brian, a week before. And they wanted us to stay with them AGAIN (weirdos, huh?). We were so thankful, as we really had a blast with Christina the first time around and we wanted to meet Brian, since he hadn’t been there on our first visit.

After a full day of walking into Cincinnati, Christina drove out and met us to bring us back to their house, which was about 10 miles away. We had a blast catching up with her and seeing her new house. Then when Brian came home, we had a blast meeting him. After a mouthwatering dinner of homemade pot roast, we went out for some tasty custard for dessert. Then we came home, talked for a little while longer, and went to bed for a night of rest.

Mike, Lindsie, Jaeda, Christina, and Brian

The plan the next day was for us to walk through Cincinnati, and then have Christina pick us up again for a second night at their house. After loading up and driving all the way back out to where we had left off, we realized we had made a mistake—neither Lindsie nor I remembered to grab handlebars for the cart we were going to use that day. That meant we had no way to push our stuff. And no way to carry our stuff. Which, all in all, meant we wouldn’t be walking that day at all.

Slightly disappointed, but also excited to have a full day with Brian and Christina, we made our way back to Christina’s house. We used the opportunity to get a lot of other stuff done, and then looked forward to a tasty night of dinner with the two of them. Also, we should mention that they were kind enough to let us stay with them, even though it was their anniversary that night. To be fair, we didn’t know it was their anniversary until after we had accepted the invitation to stay, so it’s not like we just rudely came in and invaded their celebration or anything. At least, that’s what we’re telling ourselves.

Anyway, we had another wonderful night with Brian and Christina, and we look forward to stopping by to see them again on our way back home. We left some items at their house, so we will get to see them yet again when we stop by to pick them up.

Jaeda, hiding from the sun

We actually did have to leave the next morning, so we walked our way through Cincinnati toward Milford, Ohio. And that is where this post will leave off. At this point, we have fewer than 40 days of walking and almost fewer than 600 miles to go, so the goal is in sight and there is light at the end of the tunnel!

We’ll have another update soon, but until then, we appreciate the continued prayers and support that you’ve shown us throughout our journey. We have been blessed beyond measure, and our only request is that you continue praying for us. For protection, for open hearts of pastors and churches we contact, and for warm weather as we race winter over to the east coast. We appreciate it beyond words.

As we get closer and closer to our goal, this verse from Hebrews really hit me during my Bible study this week. I hope it hits you in the same way. It’s Hebrews 3:14…

“For if we are faithful to the end, trusting God just as firmly as when we first believed, we will share in all that belongs to Christ.”

That’s a pretty awesome promise, to say the least. We just need to stay faithful to the end.

Have a blessed day, and we’ll be back with more soon.

-Mike and Lindsie (and Jaeda)