Reflecting on my “Fuller Center” journal

24 Apr

Now that I have typed all of this in, I know I must go back some time and add photos to the days.  But I am not really sure that will ever happen.

It is so funny to read the writings I did while on my trip.  I suppose I was overly bothered by the bathroom stuff.  I can go in the woods just fine.  It really doesn’t bother me.  I guess I just like my privacy and all.  And I am used to doing it with family and close friends.  I just didn’t realize that was who these people were until later in the week.   Anyway, it all turned out just fine and I got over all the embarrassment.  After all what is there to be embarrassed about when you are wearing spandex all the time anyway.  I also know that I wrote those parts so I would remember the funny stories that go along with the event.

I also notice a fixation on the food.  It was just such an integral part of the trip!  There was so much more I could have recorded but I was trying to keep it short so I could live the time rather than spending it writing.  I have so many stories to tell about each day.  Those will have to be shared orally though.

The people made the trip!  I can only say here that there wasn’t a single person on the trip that I didn’t enjoy immensely.  What a great group!  The people who fed us were so wonderful!  The people who provided us shelter and showers and a place to sleep were amazing!  The biking part was great, that should have been a major part.  However, the challenges of the road were so minute in comparison to the wonders that were happening all around me, and thank goodness I was in great shape for this ride.    Yes, the scenery was beautiful, the road was great for riding, the weather could have been better I suppose (actually it could have been a lot worse too), the build experience was great, and the daily devotionals were so moving.    I am still wearing my rag from the Monday morning devotional.  I hope I can wear it always as a reminder to myself of where I have been, the people I met, and the life I aspire to live.

I really believe Nicole and I will raise the $5,000 we hope to raise to pay for a house in Sierra Leone.  I hope some day she is able to go there again and see her friends and the houses that are built with Fuller Center funds.  I also look forward to her stories from her summer adventure across America with the Fuller Center for Housing.   I will write again on my next adventure.  This would be best read by reading the first post and working your way up through the week.   It is very personal as you will see.  I really wrote if for me, not to publish, but I am happy to share with you my friend.   Enjoy!

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3-24-13 Heading home ;(

24 Apr

Breakfast was at 5:30 this morning.  I chose to sleep in a little instead.  I had to plug my phone in at the other  end of the room so I put it on silent rather than set an alarm.  Gretchen was preparing for her trip to Florida and called at 2:30 AM.  Thank goodness my phone was on silent.

When I woke up I sat for a while on my cot watching everyone getting packed, eating breakfast, or visiting for the last bit.  It was a time to really reflect and realize what an experience I had over the last week.  All of these people had come together from various parts of the US.  We lived together, ate together, rode, built, worked, slept, and prayed together.  I realized what a spiritual week I had and yet we never really discussed (or argued) our faith the whole time.  We were all believers who came together for a common cause and each were touched and changed.  So glad I did this alone!  Well, I wasn’t alone, God was with me, I just didn’t know any of the people He would send for me to meet this week.

After packing the vans and the trailer one last time, we headed back to Nashville.  Landon did an amazing job of getting 4 bikes in the back of the van.  Debbie sat behind me, Landon in front with me and Turbo (Tom Tebbe) took the seat behind him.  We had the best time driving back.  I talked up the Interstate Barbeque in Memphis.  We were all drooling for it, but it doesn’t open until 11:30 on Sunday and we were driving through Memphis at 10:00 or so.  BUMMER!!

Then we started looking for a Wendy’s.  We finally settled for McDonald’s.  I just got a large decaf and ate a Zone bar I had in the car.  It rained pretty hard almost all the way back to Nashville.  We had great conversations and good fun in the van.  We were the first ones back so we eventually helped others unload and repacked the trailer.  It was sad going to the airport to return the vans and telling everyone good bye.

Gretchen passed through Nashville and swapped vans with me.  Then I called George Schneider and visited with him and John.  We ate dinner at the Sportsman’s Grill.  It was great to catch up and just talk.  I must visit them more often.

I finally got home safely around 10:30.  My house is so big, my bed is so big and soft, and I have so much!  It was an amazing journey.  I must go back again.

3-23-13 I’m Going to Jackson

23 Apr

Last night we had such a great time.  We played “Telephone Pictionary” and then some Catch Phrase.  It is always interesting to play Catch Phrase with a group of mixed age people.  So fun!  (I haven’t mentioned it yet but almost all of the people on this trip are either 50+ or 30-.  Most interesting!)

This morning was another pancake, etc. day.  No eggs or meat but plenty of fruit.  Then we took off on the last leg of our ride.  We sang “I’m Going to Jackson” a lot today starting at the send off.   Debbie and I started with the group this morning.  It was nice to be with everyone.  There was a 30% chance of rain predicted and the morning was cool but the high in Jackson was forecast to be around 70.  It would be a day of stripping as you go.

We were in quite a pace line all day. It broke up a little when some stopped at the donkeys for photos but the first stop wasn’t far and we regrouped there.  Our second stop was along side the Pearl River.  By then the sun was out and the day was warming nicely.  We had a great time at the stops.

We all regrouped at our last stop on the Trace.  It was sad to say good bye to the road that had challenged us all week.  We had a police escort to our last church, Madison United Methodist Church.  That was quite exciting and cool.

When we arrived the pastor welcomed us and showed us to the gym and the cots and all we could want.  There were 2 showers and I got to be 3rd so it was real nice.  I also got a cot for the night.  It was heavenly with springs and all!!!

After getting cleaned up a group of us went (walked) to a little cafe around the corner from the church.  (Me, Debbie, Landon, Kurt, Angela, Sarah Cook, Jonas, Tom Tebbe, and Kim).  Shortly after we returned it was time to load into the church’s buses for a ride to Tougaloo College for dinner at the President’s home.  It was a beautiful spread of amazing food.  Some students came to visit with us there too.  After dinner we were taken back to the church by the college officials.

When we got back it was time to go to the airport to pick up the vans to drive back to Nashville.  I had offered to drive one of the vans.  It  started to rain while we were in the airport and rained all the way back.  When we got in, it was already past “lights out” time.  So I prepped and went on to bed.

This was the beginning of many good byes.  Matt and Beret went to their flights before dinner.  Venus left after dinner.  Scott’s ride picked him up that evening too.  So sad!!!!

3-22-13 Rain and Cold

23 Apr

Another day of rain today!  But we started the day with a most amazing breakfast with some of the best grits.  Because of our awesome breakfast I didn’t need much to eat on the ride.  But I did partake of a moon pie at the second stop.  I also saw may apples today and talked about them thinking about Daddy with both.

Debbie and I volunteered to “sweep” today so we had to stay in the back of the group.  We were frozen at the first stop and soaked since we had some riders with us who were going a bit slower in the cold rain.  They bailed at the first stop along with most of the others.   I had to pee along side the trailer since there were no facilities and I didn’t want to go into soggy woods of pencil thin trees.  Then I put Walmart bags over my socks inside my shoes and tucked them into my tights.  Then I put Walmart bags on my hands loose enough to still use my gloves too.  The bags worked great!  It was a surprise how much a plastic bag could do.  Some put Playtex gloves over their gloves.  That worked well too.

It was really fun riding and laughing with Debbie.  It made me think of my time with Mary Williams and how she encouraged me and kept me going.  Oh, another funny, smart thing I did was to put my shower cap on my helmet.  It helped to stay warm with a dry head.  I was not really cold at all when we got in.

After a wonderful warm shower I talked with Mother a little before dinner.  It was good to chat.  Dinner was pizza and salad.  I talked with Gretchen and Nicole then cleaned and relubed my bike.  IT was really filthy!  Laundry was done again tonight.  We picked up lots of newspapers this morning so everyone packed their shoes to dry them tonight.

We ate dinner at 5 so there has been lots of relaxing time tonight.  It is so sad to know our trip is ending soon.  What a great organization, a great event and great people here riding.

Our hosts tonight are Parkway Baptist Church of Koscuisko, Mississippi.

3-21-13 Short (ride) and (lots of) sweet(s)

23 Apr

Today was a short ride day.  45 miles.  We still had to pull out early because we were being served lunch at out destination of Houston, Mississippi at the Parkway Baptist Church.   Before we left Tupelo we took a detour to see Elvis’ birthplace/home just outside Tupelo’s downtown.  It was really a nice place with a museum and all.

When we left the memorial we realized we had delayed the two “sweeps” for the day so we rode with them the whole way.  It made for a nice day.  (Debbie, Angela, Patrick, Ben Rivers, Dan Sheridan, and Dan Hepp and me).  We had coffee before leaving church since some made a coffee run and I could get decaf.  So I had to pee at the stop — not well hidden but nature called.  We picked up Bud as we came into town.

I forgot to mention the forest fire area we passed today.  We stopped and looked at it a good while.  It was still smoldering.  Angela, who works as a guide instructor at Philmont Scout Ranch, said it burned hot because the trees dropped their sap in protection.  That meant it wasn’t a controlled burn.  Very interesting!

Lunch was ready when we got in —  deli meat, chips, little debbie snacks and fruit.  It was great.  After lunch, Debbie and I rode back into town and to the Walmart on the other side of town.  We bought candy and Polysporin and Icy Hot.  We giggled at out candy stash we bought.  (I owed Preston for bringing me peanut M&Ms on Tuesday.)   I carried some in a Walmart bag / back pack style.  Debbie said I was a real redneck cyclist.  We laughed so hard we both forgot to take off our cleat covers and couldn’t understand why we couldn’t clip in.

On our way back into town I spotted the newspaper office.  I asked for some old paper for us to pick up in the morning.  More rain is predicted which means wet shoes again.  They were so nice and are going to pull out a stack of papers and are also giving us two end rolls of paper.

After a wonderful warm shower in the parsonage or some extra church home.  We came back to the church to a very nice dinner of pulled pork, baked beans, slaw and more amazing desserts.  This evening some people are playing basketball, Jonas is working on bikes, some are sitting and visiting.  It is just so fun to be with everyone.

Dan Sheridan shared his photos tonight.  I must take them in form his facebook when home.  Time for bed.  Cold and rainy 75 miles tomorrow.

3-20-13 Build Day in Tupelo, MS

23 Apr

Wow it was great to really sleep all night and to not hurt.  I broke down and took some Aleve last night since my ankle was really hurting.  My spine was still a little crooked so I think  that is the source of the pain.  This morning I was pain free and straight.  Sleep helps, no pain makes sleeping easier too.

Today we had camp breakfast.  It was great– sausage and eggs and leftover pancakes.  After that we signed up for work sites.  I signed up for the out door site which was a roofing job.  When we got there, after a coffee shop detour,  it was decided the roof needed more equipment than we had.  So, we did yard work instead.  We weeded, trimmed and weed eatered.  Then Councilwoman Nettie took us to a community park she has started where we did more pruning, weeding, etc. clean up.  It was much improved before we left for lunch.

We hung around the church a bit after lunch to let our crew chief find more work we could do.  When we walked back over to our work site they had decided we had really done all we could there so we had a relaxing afternoon and early showers.

Some of the church people came in for a service for us.  A first grade girl, Caliyah, talked with me at length.  I suppose I was her new friend for the day. It was a nice performance by some youth of the church.   Dinner tonight was pizza from Dominoes.

It is really special to feel so close to all the people here.  We are really bonding and blending.   There is a gym here and several people have really enjoyed playing (basketball and hula hoops).   It is neat to watch the interactions and groupings.  This is a wonderful trip.

Off to bed soon.  I talked with Vicki but I should talk to John again soon.  Nicole and Gretchen both called earlier.  I had good, fun conversations with each of them.  Another wonderful blessed day!

3-19-13 Century Day

23 Apr

We had a wonderful breakfast egg casserole with potatoes and ham for breakfast today.  Thank goodness the rain is gone.  I asked Angela if she wanted to hange with me and Debbie today.  She said she would like that.  She said she tends to go out too fast and burn out too quickly and knew we would keep her going steady.

We started early since we had 100 to ride today.  It was nice riding.  We left more as a group so we had a great pace line most all day.  We did the first 25 miles so fast we had to wait for the news man before crossing the bridge to Mississippi from Alabama.  It was so cool though since the bridge was half consumed in dense fog.  It was a scarey prospect so I was glad we had to wait.  We had a great time entertaining ourselves at this park by the river while we waited.   Thankfully the fog cleared before we were finished with the news and moved out again.  Debbie Angela, Sarah Cooke, Dan Hepp and several others (Jonas, Ben and Preston…) rode together most of the day.  We were only schedule for 96 miles but lots of us finished it off as 100.  It was bad as we came into Tupelo at 4:30 with a good bit of traffic and there was a bad spot in the road.  Debbie, my new best friend, got her wheel caught but stayed up.  Several others, not with me, went down.

I waited for a  warm shower instead of taking my turn in line.  I can’t do a cold shower!  I barely finished my shower in time for dinner.  Dinner was chicken, green beans, corn and mashed potatoes.  It was good.  After dinner I dried my hair and stretched some more.  My back was causing me a lot of ankle pain today.   (I was fine sitting in a chair,  on the bike, and walking. But if I stood still for any time at all it really hurt!)   Then I got out my dirty clothes for the group laundry.  It was two huge piles.  One for cycling “light dry” stuff and one for regular clothes.

After that I laid down to talk with Nicole and John then fell asleep early.  I actually laid down in my clothes and tennies and got up at 5:30 in the morning, took off my tennies and used the bathroom.  Then I laid back down and slept some more.

One of the women from Tupelo, Councilwoman Nette,  talked tonight and sounded so much like Nanny.   I could enjoy listening to her talk for a long time.  It was fun to talk with her later.  I told her she reminded me of my grandmother from Mississippi.  I think she liked that.

Our host tonight is St. Paul’s Life Center.  There is a Fuller Center covenant partner here in Tupelo who found us this church to stay in.  We are actually here two nights and there is lots of room to spread out.