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.
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.
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.
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.
Anyway, 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.
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.
Unfortunately, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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