We’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.
After 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!
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.
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.
We 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.
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.
After 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.
After 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.
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.
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.
We 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.
Hollie 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.
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.
The 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.
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 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