Sunday, August 17, 2008

We Made It!

We did it! 6 friends, 12 weeks, and almost 4,000 miles!

We had a great morning with the Covenant Church in Quincy, MA. They let us share in the service with them and then took us down to the beach, cheering us along all the way. We dipped our tires in the ocean and then went for a triumphant dip.

I hope you'll keep reading the blog in the coming weeks as I'm sure that members of the group (myself included) will use this space to debrief and to continue to discuss the trip and all of the lessons learned. Thanks to all of you who've kept up with the blog and with us. Thanks for all the prayers and encouragement and we hope you'll keep reading here.

with joy,

Friday, August 15, 2008


1. Bones Pub and Grub - California
2. Big Tony's Pub - Minnesota
3. Major's Station in Nevada
3. Daryl and Patti Page's Ranch in Nevada
5. Uncle Paul's Moo Burgers - Chicago

1. A ditch in Whirlwind Valley in Nevada
2. Behind a building on concrete
3. in a barn
4. on a table
5. in an office

1. Butt
2. Butt
3. Thighs
4. Neck

1. Eddie Floyd - "Knock on Wood"
2. Erykah Badu - "Soldier"
3. Rachelle Ferrell - "Peace on Earth"
4. Rachelle Ferrell - "Wounds in the Way"
5. Marvin Gaye - "How Sweet it is"
6. Christa Black - "California Sunshine"
7. Dorinda Clark Cole - "So Many Times"

1. Fire Next Time - Baldwin
2. Langston Hughes' Poetry
3. The Secret Life of Bees - Kidd
4. Goin to Meet the Man - Ellison
5. Confessions - Augustine
6. I am America - Colbert
7. Invisible Man- Ellison
8. Buffalo Soldier
9. Madea's Uninhibited Commentary - Perry

- I am sick of clif bars and gatorade and powerade and all "ade" drinks!!!!


I am on pins and needles and thoughts are running through my head at a dizzying speed. For twelve weeks we've been riding now and the journey has finally come to its end. I have taken in so much between San Francisco and Boston that it will probably take me quite a while to process it. On Sunday night, I fly back to Chicago to spend time with some friends there (who are like family to me) and then I go home to Texas. I am super excited, as I haven't been home since last year. Earlier in the trip, I stated that I wanted to be more excited about my relationship with Christ by the end of the trip and I am excited. I am glad that there are men and women across the country doing what God wants them to do, i am glad that people are sharing with other people. No, we do not hear much of this, or see a lot of this without looking really hard and I suppose that this is the way Christ wanted it. I believe that if the God thing was so easy and popular, people would forget about it all too quickly. This trip is definitely something that I will remember for the rest of my life. I just think that there is so much to process right now, I am a little mentally paralyzed.

And there is one person that I was hoping to have the chance to tell about it, but I won't. This past Sunday, one of my best friends in the world, LaDerrius Christian, was killed back home and it has been hard to come to terms with. We were friends since 8th grade and the one thing I will remember the most is his sense of humor and how we would walk back from football practice "freestyling" and singing rap lyrics. I will surely miss him.


Thursday, August 14, 2008

30 miles...

30 miles from the coast...

our trip is finally coming to a close! i must admit that this last week or so my mind has been focused primarily on finishing the trip. i've thought for hours on what it will be like... sitting on the beach, or running into the ocean, or getting on a plane and saying farewell to my bike for a couple weeks. i can't wait for that moment, when i know that after 12 weeks and almost 4000 miles we have actually accomplished what we set out to do. it all seemed so insurmountable to me as we dragged our bikes up to the road from the coastline of the Pacific. and yet, here we are, only 30 miles away.

unfortunately, my recent fixation on the end of the physical journey has sometimes eclipsed what i consider to be the more important aspects of the trip - the conversations, the stories, and the people that we meet along the way; the striving toward a lifestyle of social justice and a holistic gospel. weeks ago, i spent much of the time on the bike thinking and praying about how my life can and should look different after this trip.

i think of the different lifestyle changes that i need to make; how i desire to live more simply and frugally, how i want to share what i do have with others, how i want to live a lifestyle that has a positive environmental impact, and how i want to bring Christ in an incarnational way to those in need.

but the excuses come quickly. i think that many of us - college students (and others, i suppose) - use excuses to procrastinate just actions. someday, we say, when i have a better paying job and a place of my own, then i can really dig in and make a difference. but if i'm honest with myself, i have so much that i can share and give up. for me personally, the phrase "poor college student" is not used in truth - i only hide behind it. and that's pretty easy to do.

like Marcus said, this trip is going to take a while to process. but i am so thankful for all of the people that have encouraged us along the way, both in our physical journey and our spiritual journey, and i know that i am growing through this and other experiences in my life.


Monday, August 11, 2008

Rain, rain.

Matt here.

Emily made a post a few weeks ago from Lake Pymatuning at my grandparents' place. So, I figured I'd post some pictures. I've been going there all my life and it's one of my favorite places to spend my time.

Sunsets are always great here.

Bad weather over the horizon at night. Foreshadowing...

I got to catch some fish...

...and see people I love.

But now we're stuck just 10 miles east of where we were this morning. We had planned on crossing the border into Massachusetts today but got a late start waiting on bike shops to open and then got caught under a huge system of storms that never let up. So, we got a hotel and decided to just pray that tomorrow's better. It's rained so much in the past week and we're all getting really tired of it. Sometimes it's fun and provides a free shower:

But most of the time, it's a drag. Yesterday, we got stuck under an overpass changing flats and waiting for the lightning to stop.

And we've invested in top of the line water-repellent clothing:

We end on Sunday in Boston and we're all very ready for the airport. It's just a matter of getting through this rain... something that I'm a bit nervous about. In any case, we're getting on the road early tomorrow morning to try and get back on track.

People have been great to us in New York, even if the weather hasn't. We had three great church visits here (in Jamestown, Rochester, and Clay) where we met a lot of really encouraging people. We honestly enjoyed all of our conversations and had a great time. Later in the week, we rolled into Frankfort, NY not knowing where we were going to stay (the only church that picked up their phones couldn't take us in for various insurance reasons I guess). We sat down at a little Italian place and before we knew it, we'd been invited into a home for the first dry night we'd had in days. Our new friend Helen welcomed us in and made us a great breakfast in the morning. Then, yesterday when we were caught out in yet another thunderstorm, we knocked on the door of the nearest farm house and were welcomed in by Bev Brown, a wonderfully hospitable woman who warmed us up with her handmade quilts and fed us lunch.

Eric was joking around the other day that it'll be weird to be back in Chicago next week as "just another person" without some kind of adventurous tale told by our spandex and helmet lines. Will we still be treated like this? I hope so, but I'm not sure.

And I can't help but think about how much better the world would be if we treated one another like this all the time. Christ modeled hospitality and sacrifice and we've witnessed people all over America following the example. But have my homeless friends seen the same thing? I'm not sure. The exceptional thing about Christ was that he loved the outcasts and the untouchables. There are plenty of people that need a roof over their heads or a meal or a simple friendly conversation and they don't get it because they aren't college kids with a collection of good stories to tell. Christ loved the overlooked and the oppressed and it's my hope that they'll be loved like we have this summer.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Home, and New York thus far.

Hello all,

I hope that you are doing well... we're camping out right now just north of the Finger Lakes region in New York, not far from Lake Ontario. We've enjoyed the spot so far. Our temporary neighbors have been very friendly, bringing gifts of firewood and popcorn. After a bad rain storm this morning one couple brought over freshly baked muffins. Unfortunately most of our stuff is drenched, so right now we're trying to dry things out before we hit the road for Clay, NY.

This past weekend we had the privilege of speaking at my home church, Zion Covenant in Jamestown, NY. I'd been waiting for 10 weeks for this weekend - it was hard to believe that it was actually here! It was so great to spend time with family, friends, and my girlfriend... and the response and support that we received from all that we met was overwhelming. It was so good to be at home and see first hand that so many from my home church have been behind us all the way.

Last night we were in Rochester, at Artisan Church. The evening that we spent there was wonderful. One topic that is still ringing in my ears is the importance of being incarnational in the places that we seek to be involved. Too many times ministry or outreach is done at arms length. We may travel into the city or to a distant country to do the work of Christ, but at the end of the day, many of us return from places that we label as "unsafe" or "bad neighborhoods" to the safety and comfort of our homes and quiet neighborhoods.

But the incarnation models a different way. Christ did not minister to people at arms length. He was born in the stable to reach out to the shepherds. He ate in the homes of tax collectors to speak to the outcasts. The message of the incarnation is clear - God validates our worth as humans by coming and living as one of us. The church must follow this example and live in this incarnational way to validate the worth of those to whom we are reaching out. What does this look like? I think that we need to seriously evaluate where our churches are located and where we as individuals choose to live. If we really want to bring the love of Christ to the inner city, or to the so-called "bad neighborhoods," that's where we should be.


Saturday, August 2, 2008

"I thought that I saw you in the oncoming cars"

I have not blogged a lot, I realize that.  When riding, my remarks and conversation are usually limited to bursts of irritation at the state which we are riding through, or the map.  I try to call on all my patience to be fair and strong.  

I think a lot about what I have learned this summer.  Sometimes I try hard to search for a life lesson.  I have learned to have faith to pray.  It is not easy for me to pray.  I want so hard for every word to be sincere.  But I'm learning to pray in faith for impossible things.  In faith I pray uncommon prayers; I am told He answers prayer.  People are always telling me that this journey will change my life, that I will look back on it as a blessed time of my life.  

But I'm just looking for God.  I'm looking for evidence of His love in the people we meet.  


Friday, August 1, 2008

from Lake Pymatuning, PA

Today we're resting at Matt's grandparents' cottage. Since we first plotted this destination on the map, Matt has described this destination to us as paradisiacal; I have yet to disagree with him.

I am tempted to suggest that we end the trip here. "Let's stop here," I would whisper to my traveling companions. "Let's spend the next two weeks here, overlooking the lake, then drive with our bikes to Quincy, MA for our finale. No one would have to know!" Perhaps we could even stay longer -- indefinitely. I would lounge on the deck daily; learn to sail, maybe, if I got the courage; and definitely learn to like fish.

But we cannot stay. I cannot stay. Eventually, the faces of those I'd forgotten would reflect off the water by the dock.

The man in Seattle stood overlooking the sea, calling:

"Hello! Hello? Are you there?
Can you hear me? Help me!
Help me! I'm drowning!
Hello? I need help! I'm drowning!"
He paused, concluding,
"I hate you!"