Man oh man, do we have plenty to catch up on! We last left off getting ready to head toward Rolla, Missouri, after leaving our friends in Dixon and making our way east. Let’s just say a lot has happened since that last post.
For starters, we made our way from Jerome, Missouri, toward Rolla. Thanks to our friend Rocky in Dixon, we learned with much excitement that it’s legal for people to walk on the interstate in Missouri. Now, before you think to yourself, Well that sounds like the dumbest, most dangerous thing I’ve ever heard, let me explain why we were excited.
For the past few weeks, the Storming Jericho trio had been walking through the county roads and state highways crossing through the Ozarks. The problem with those county roads and state highways is that “Ozarks” might as well be the Latin word for “hills.” Beautiful hills, but hills nonetheless. And as a result of those hills, the back roads we were on were full of twists, turns, rises, falls, and shoulders about as wide as a pencil. On top of that, the roads themselves were full of drivers who like to FLY along those roads. Bottom line: those roads were pretty stinkin’ dangerous.
So when we pushed onto Interstate 44 toward Rolla, we breathed a sigh of relief. The cars were flying by faster—only a few miles per hour faster I should add—but our shoulder was about 10 feet wide. Slightly more appealing than what we faced on the back roads. Even better—the interstate was flattened out substantially. Fewer hills, fewer turns, and a wide shoulder meant happy walkers.
After a few hours on the road, we rolled into Rolla, Missouri. Due to our very abrupt change in route, we hadn’t had much time to call churches in Rolla. As we scrambled to find any church that would be willing to have us, a church called Life Church said we were welcome. We made our way there, but a few minutes later our friend Hollie from Dixon told us her friend Aimee in Rolla was coming to get us. That’s just how Hollie rolls.
Aimee pulled up and her excitement and energy were contagious. We made our way to her house after a quick stop by Walmart and Lindsie was overjoyed to see that Aimee had sugar gliders (pictured near this paragraph). I, Mike, was less-than-overjoyed with the sugar gliders, mostly because Lindsie wants to own them herself someday and I am less inclined to own them. I knew as soon as Lindsie saw/held/loved them, she would demand we get them. And she did. I told her it would need to wait until the walk was over. We’ll see where it goes from there.
Anyway, we had a really fun night with Aimee and the rest of her family. And thanks to Aimee’s job, I was able to custom-build a beautiful locket for Lindsie’s birthday present. Lindsie was happy, which made me happy. After a great night of sleep at Aimee’s, her husband Kevin got up bright and early to drive us back out to where we’d left off the day before. We said goodbye and continued on the road toward Cuba, Missouri. Thanks to the crew at First Baptist Church in Cuba, we had a destination ahead of us. And along the way, we got to stop at the World’s Largest Rocking Chair. So that was neat.
We pressed on through a pretty brutal day of heat and humidity, and we finally reached Cuba sweating and exhausted. We were delighted, however, to discover that we would be staying in the missionary house next door to the church, which meant we had a whole house to ourselves. After dropping off our gear, one of the church deacons, Russ, and his wife, Robin, asked to take us out to lunch. Food and unlimited ice water was an offer we couldn’t turn down at that point. We went out to a delicious barbecue restaurant, enjoyed a fantastic conversation, and then, on the way home, we stopped at the local newspaper so a reporter could interview us. All in all, it was an eventful day. We had fun, but we were also excited to rest and relax for the evening.
We went to sleep that night and, unfortunately, it seemed the heat from the day before had taken its toll on us. We woke up in the morning and felt drained to the point of exhaustion. After asking Russ if we could wait one more day in Cuba, he was kind enough to say that wouldn’t be a problem. We spent the rest of the day resting, and we are thankful we did. The next morning we were able to hit the road and get back on track.
We pushed on from Cuba to Sullivan, Missouri bright and early the next morning. And thanks to Pastor Steve at Grace United Methodist Church, we were welcomed with open arms. We arrived early enough to avoid getting roasted in the heat, and sat down for an evening of ice water drinking and air conditioning enjoying. We had a great time talking with Pastor Steve, and we were also thankful to have a little bit more time to catch up on things later in the afternoon. All in all, our stop in Sullivan ended up being exactly what we needed.
The next morning we got up early to make our way toward St. Clair, Missouri. While we were bummed to still get caught by the not-so-pleasant heat of the early afternoon, we were excited about our lodging for the night. Pastor Johnny from Central Missionary Baptist in St. Clair had offered to put us up in a fantastic hotel in St. Clair. Although the name isn’t exactly inspiring, Budget Lodging was fantastic. We were especially impressed with the ownership’s boldness in faith. Besides numerous references to their Christian beliefs in a letter posted in the room, we were happy to find the room’s Bible not tucked away in a drawer, but lying open on the dresser with Psalm 4:8 highlighted. That Psalm reads:
In peace I will lie down and sleep,
for you alone, Lord,
make me dwell in safety.
Beautiful. But that’s not the only reason we were happy. We were also very pumped about the hotel’s pool, which we used to cool off from the brutal heat of the day. While we swam, Lindsie used her waterproof camera case to take some really fun action shots. Later in the day, Pastor Johnny and other members of the staff from Missionary Baptist came by to meet us and say a prayer, which we gratefully accepted. Then, to top it all off, Pastor Johnny’s wife, Sharon, brought us dinner later that evening.
The next morning we stopped by to check out, and even though it was only 4:00 a.m., the woman at the front desk, Christy, let us grab breakfast and enjoy a fun chat before we left. From St. Clair, we were on our way to Pacific, Missouri. Thanks to Pastor David and his wife, Christy, from Mission Community Church, we had a place to stay. In fact, we had an entire RV to ourselves. At least we would…when we actually spent the night in Pacific. But before that would happen, we were going to be visited by some very special friends. Who, you ask?
Our friend Tonya from all the way back in Nevada, Missouri, was actually in nearby St. Louis to visit her mom! And she wanted to pick us up to hang out! Equally as important to us, Tonya had just recently given birth to her and her husband Dana’s second daughter, Acacia, and it meant we would actually get to meet Acacia (or Cacie, for short). PLUS we would get to see their other adorable daughter, Talitha. So pretty quickly after we pulled into Pacific, Tonya arrived to steal us away to St. Louis for the night. Pastor David was kind enough to let us leave most of our gear at his house while we reconnected with Tonya and met her family in St. Louis.
We were excited to be there, and Tonya’s family was great to us. We ate some delicious meals, went swimming—and busted out Lindsie’s waterproof camera case again—and had a solid night of sleep at Tonya’s family’s. Then the next day we had yet another surprise in store for us. Lindsie’s graduate school friend, Jessica, wanted to drive down from Quincy, Illinois, to pick us up to spend the night at her parents’ house!
After saying a sad goodbye to Tonya, Talitha, and Acacia (unfortunately, Dana wasn’t able to make it out until after we had left), we went with Jessica to Quincy. We got to meet her parents, Greg and Donetta, and we had a fantastic night full of tasty food and even better conversation. Even though our time with Jess’s family was short, we had a blast and were thankful for the opportunity to meet and spend time with them. Somehow, much to our frustration and disappointment, we forgot to get a photo with Jessica’s family, so if we end up getting one in the future, we’ll be sure to add it in.
Anyway, after another great night of rest, we finally made our way back toward Pacific. Thanks to Pastor David being so flexible, we still had a place to stay that night, even though it was Labor Day. In fact, Pastor David and his wife made a wonderful meal and a whole group of people came over to eat good food and celebrate Labor Day. We enjoyed getting to talk with everyone, and we also enjoyed getting to spend time with the rest of Pastor David’s family, which included David and Christy’s kids, Jeremiah, Bethany, Sofia, Bentley, and Blake. All in all, the night was a huge blessing to us. We went to bed a little sad that our weekend of new friends, rest, and relaxation was coming to a close.
Or so we thought. But thanks to an unfortunately-timed migraine throbbing in Lindsie’s head, we ended up needing to ask Pastor David if there was any chance we could spend another night in his wonderful camper. If we were testing Pastor David’s patience at all, he never showed it in the slightest. He said they’d be happy to have us stay another night, and, after a day of rest and a chance to be a part of the family’s Bible study that evening, Lindsie and I got a good night of sleep. Both of us, this time.
The next morning we got moving VERY early, and we made our way toward Valley Park, Missouri. Thanks to Pastor Kris at Freedom Church in Valley Park, we had a place to stay. It was the Drury Inn and Suites, and it was a delightful place to spend a night. Along the way to Valley Park we had another milestone come up—we crossed the “under 1,000 miles to go” mark! We celebrated by basking in the refreshing air conditioning of a nice hotel and chowing down on the free dinner buffet offered by the Drury Inn and Suites. Although we didn’t get a chance to meet Pastor Kris in person, we certainly appreciated his hospitality.
The next stop on our journey was a big one—St. Louis, Missouri. And even though this post doesn’t quite catch you up to where we are now, there is just WAY too much incredible stuff that happened in St. Louis (and after) and there’s no way it would all fit into this post. Which means, sadly, we’ll be cutting this post off here and getting another one ready as soon as possible. We promise.
Until then, thank you so much for reading and for continuing to pray for us and send words of encouragement our way. We can’t get over how blessed we are to have so much positive support as we travel these roads. It’s truly incredible.
Like I said, we’ll have another post soon. Be blessed until then.
-Mike and Lindsie (and Jaeda)