Our journey across Kansas continues to fly by, as the Storming Jericho crew continues to trek onward toward the east coast. You may remember from our last post that we left off just outside of Stafford, Kansas, saying hello and goodbye to our fellow cross-country walkers, Josh and Kerri.
After Josh and Kerri left, we pushed our way into Stafford after a 22-mile day of walking. Our destination was the Methodist Church in Stafford, where the church receptionist, Arlene, said we were welcome to stay. The church was pretty much empty because they were waiting on a new pastor to arrive in the near future and, due to the harvest season, most people were out working in the fields all week. Basically it was perfect timing for me and Lindsie to stay for a little while.
Unfortunately, due to a bad night of sleep, we ended up staying longer than planned. On the one hand, this was somewhat disappointing since we always enjoy making solid progress. On the other hand, it was REALLY hot outside, so it was probably safer for us to be indoors anyway. Plus, a massive thunderstorm hit one of the nights we were there, and it was nice to be indoors so we could avoid that as well.
During our last night in Stafford, a gentleman named Larry was bringing food in for the food pantry. After we helped him unload his truck, Larry offered to take us out to a local restaurant for some cinnamon cream pie, a dish which Stafford is fairly well known for in the region, according to Larry. Needless to say, it was absolutely delicious and we were thankful we had offered to help him unload his truck.
Eventually we did leave Stafford, which brought us toward Plevna, a small town that was on a road a few miles south of Highway 50. It was nice to get off of Highway 50 for a change, mostly because the road to Plevna was basically empty and extremely peaceful. For the first time in a while, Linds and I had a chance to talk while we walked, and Jaeda was able to roam and explore with as much slack as her leash offered. We were all feeling pretty comfortable with things as we strolled into Plevna.
Then, as if God wanted to give us a bonus blessing, the pastor and his family in Plevna offered to put us up in their house for the night instead of having us sleep on the floor of the church. That meant we were going to have a bed, showers, dinner, and even more comfort than usual. Talk about a pleasant surprise.
The pastor of Plevna Community Bible Church is David Green, and he, his wife Larissa, and their two kids Danny and Emily were delightful. Danny is extremely well spoken and intelligent for his age, which made for some fun conversations, and Emily is one of the most adorable little girls in the world. On top of that, David and Larissa are great too.
After a tasty lunch, we were able to spend time chatting with the Greens, which we enjoyed. We also got familiar with their numerous pets, which included a sweet dog, two cats, a robin, and a tank full of fish and shrimp. Lindsie, who probably dreams of working in a zoo, was in Heaven. Then the Greens made a fantastic meal called Pasta Pizza for dinner—yes, it’s as awesome as it sounds—and I (Mike) was in Heaven myself. All of this added to our thankfulness that we had decided to detour off of Highway 50 and head into Plevna. God clearly wanted us to relax and enjoy ourselves in a perfect little Kansas town.
Unfortunately, Lindsie made the mistake of drinking iced tea at lunch. Normally iced tea is a perfectly acceptable drink at lunch. But Lindsie doesn’t exactly handle caffeine well, which meant that when 3:00 A.M. rolled around, she was still wide awake (fun fact: 3 a.m. is NOT the best time to still be awake when you have a 23-mile day of walking on the agenda for the next morning).
Since Lindsie was exhausted, David and Larissa were kind enough to let us bum around an extra night, which was great anyway because we both wanted to spend more time with their family. We made sure Lindsie didn’t have any more tea, and we were out the door bright and early the next morning on our way toward Hutchinson, which was, as mentioned, about 23 miles away.
Although the day was going to be a long one, we were excited to be on the road and making progress again. And our excitement grew when we were out on the road and got invited to lunch by some people who were driving by. It was an out of the blue invite, and we were quite hungry, so it made for perfect timing. The Kings invited us in and bestowed upon us a buffet of sandwiches, macaroni salad, chips and salsa, fresh fruit, and homemade cookies. We were thankful for Aaron and Amber’s generosity, especially when they didn’t know us and didn’t even know why we were walking across the country. They must have just thought Jaeda was cute. Anyway, we said goodbye to the King family and got ready to finish our walk to Hutchinson.
Thanks to Bob and Norma from Lewis, Kansas, (we met Bob and Norma in the previous blog post), we had a place to stay in Hutchinson. Their daughter, Joni, and son-in-law, Mike, offered to let us stay in their spare bungalow next door. We had a good time getting to know Joni, Mike, and their granddaughter Ivy and her friend Lindsey. Not only did we have a great conversation, but Mike took us for a ride in their 1959 Rambler. Although they asked us to stay an extra day or two, we had already burned through our extra free days in Stafford and Plevna, so we were out bright and early the next morning.
One thing I just realized I forgot to mention was how blessed we’ve been with weather the past week days. It has been absolutely ridiculous, but the HIGH for the past stretch of our journey temperature-wise was around 85 degrees most days. Before that, the high had consistently been in the mid-to-high-90s, with several days being in the 100+ range. It seems God knew we would have two or three 20+ mile days in our future and decided to cut us a break with the weather. All we’ve heard from Kansans is that they have no idea why it has been so cool the past week. We just smile and say a quiet thanks that God is taking care of us as always.
Anyway, our next stop on the route was Burrton, Kansas. We were planning to stay at Faith Community Bible Church in Burrton, and we were looking forward to a good day of walking and a better night of rest. After a pretty uneventful day, we got to Burrton in the early afternoon. Pastor Travis Heneha was waiting for us at the church, and he showed us where we’d be sleeping. Then he offered to let us go to his house to meet his family, take showers, and eat some dinner. It was an offer we couldn’t refuse (not that we would have wanted to).
After a great afternoon of talking with Travis, his wife, Jamie, and his two sons, Trey and Nathanial, we took our showers, ate some delicious pizza, and headed back to the church. We got the wonderful night’s rest we were hoping for, and were once again out the door just as the sun was rising. It’s always so peaceful out on the road in this early morning hours, and it definitely makes walking along the highway a little more relaxing when the road is empty and people are still asleep in bed.
From Burrton we headed toward Newton, which is a bigger city in this part of Kansas. We were staying at Grace Community Church in Newton, and it was a pretty big church. We talked with Janelle, the secretary there, and also met Christina and Edith, two other women who worked in the church office. We had a great conversation with them, and then we went to start setting up in the gym for the evening. A few minutes later Christina came in and invited us to stay at her house. Since we liked her so much, we would have said yes right away, but she started talking about showers, and a brand new guest bed, and dinner, so we had to wait for all of those great things before we could actually tell her yes. Plus, she and her husband, Brian, have two of their own dogs, so there’s no way Lindsie was saying no.
As you can probably guess, we had a great night with Christina. We talked for a loooong time, ate a fantastic meal, and Lindsie got to enjoy some Blue Bell Homemade Ice Cream, which is better than words can describe. Having lived in Texas (where it’s from…and where Christina is from…), I was familiar with Blue Bell and had told Lindsie in the past about how tasty it was, but it was something she needed to experience for herself. Although my lactose-intolerance means no ice cream for me, I was happy Linds got to enjoy it. A little jealous. But mostly happy.
After a great night of sleep in the new, extra comfy guest bed, we made our way back to the church to get our carts and head down the road. We said a goodbye prayer with Christina and continued our journey.
Our original plan was to stop in Whitewater, but we realized how much energy we had and decided we could push an extra 11 miles to nearby Potwin, Kansas. Thanks to an early morning call from Kathy in Potwin, we were offered a place to stay at the Potwin Christian Church. After a 24-mile day to Potwin, we arrived at the church. As always, we were thankful to have a place to stay. Even better, Kathy and her husband, John, had family in town and they were cooking out. For dinner, they brought us burgers, corn on the cob, potatoes, gazpacho, fruit, and fresh-baked cookies. We were very full, and very appreciative.
Before we knew it, it was time for bed. The next morning brought two things: the 4th of July and a 13-mile trip to El Dorado (pronounced ell-doh-ray-doh). We were thankful that the trip wasn’t too long, because it was finally starting to warm up a little bit out on the road. We reached the Presbyterian Church in El Dorado, where Carla, the church secretary, had invited us to stay in the Youth Center, which was a separate building from the church.
Carla and her husband, Gary, were fun to chat with. After a little while, they went over to their place so we could get set up for the night. After Linds and I watched a movie on the gigantic projector screen in the youth room, Carla called and asked if we wanted to enjoy some 4th of July grilling. We thought that sounded both fun and patriotic, so we went out and ate burgers, corn on the cob, potatoes, and fruit with them. (Yes, it was quite similar to our meal in Potwin, and we were perfectly fine with that.)
That night we wanted to go to bed early, but it seemed the entire town of El Dorado decided to shoot off fireworks. Guess that makes sense, seeing as it was the 4th of July. Either way, we didn’t get to sleep right away, but it was still a fun night.
At this point, the blog is mostly caught up, so it’s probably a good place for me to stop and get ready for bed. We’ve got another chunk of miles to walk tomorrow, after all.
Thanks so much for everyone’s encouragement and prayers of support, as always. We’ve been so, so thankful to know how many people are excited for us to keep making progress across Kansas. We’ve now walked over 2,000 miles total, and we’re officially beyond halfway to our destination, which is exciting!
On a final note, we want to thank God for keeping us so well provided for these past few weeks. It seems weird because we haven’t exactly had a ton of miraculous experiences to share, but we know it’s a blessing that God has kept us safe on the road and continues to put us in contact with wonderful, incredible people everywhere we go. We feel more and more blessed every day that we’re out here, and more and more thankful for God’s provision and protection.
Anyway, hope you all had a great 4th of July, and we’ll be back with another post soon!
-Mike, Lindsie, and Jaeda