Real Answer to Prayer!

Not all prayers that we fling up to a God are immediate. But, boy did we see a specific and immediate answer today!  Let’s back up to yesterday- when a couple from the bike-specific host church in Palmyra where we were staying- came and generously lavished us with a yummy dinner upon our arrival. We had absolutely no expectation of this warm welcome!  Not only that, but they also allowed us to stay inside the church in the wonderful air conditioning and they let us use the kitchen. The pastor of the church even drove us to his house to let us all take showers. We really enjoyed meeting and talking with Cindy and Gerry who provided us with the dinner, and we had a great conversation with the pastor and his wife and daughter: George, Rita, and Jessica- not just about our bike adventure, but also about their family, their adored pets, and about homeschooling. Note: This was after our longer-than-expected biking day, on account of the flat tire that Jerry and the boys had to fix.

Jerry’s opportunity to show the boys and me how to change a flat tire.  

Jerry’s opportunity to show the boys and me how to change a flat tire.  

Before leaving Mineral, we attended a church service at Mineral Baptist Church. They had children present flowers to their mothers in honor of Mother’s Day. I was so touched by this gesture and put my 3 carnations in my handlebar bag for our day’s journey.  

Before leaving Mineral, we attended a church service at Mineral Baptist Church. They had children present flowers to their mothers in honor of Mother’s Day. I was so touched by this gesture and put my 3 carnations in my handlebar bag for our day’s journey.  

Gerry and Cindy and the yummy meal they provided for us at Palmyra United Methodist Church.  

Gerry and Cindy and the yummy meal they provided for us at Palmyra United Methodist Church.  

Rita, daughter Jessica, and George (pastor of Palmyra United Methodist Church) who graciously allowed us to take showers at their home. We must have looked really dirty!! What a sweet and welcoming family! 

Rita, daughter Jessica, and George (pastor of Palmyra United Methodist Church) who graciously allowed us to take showers at their home. We must have looked really dirty!! What a sweet and welcoming family! 

We had a great night’s sleep inside the air conditioning of the church, and when we awoke and had our breakfast, we were on our way. However, our ride to Charlottesville did not turn out as we had imagined. Only a quarter of a mile into our ride my front derailleur (the contraption that helps to switch one set of my bike gears) broke. After Jerry determined that he could not repair it with what we had, we simply decided that we would take off the derailleur and keep the bike chain on the smallest front gear and continue to ride to Charlottesville. The drawback to this plan was that although we would be able to progress up hills just fine, traveling on level road and down hills would be very limiting to our potential speed because we would not be able to go to a high gear. But, alas, we hopped back on the bikes... Well, now my chain was slipping in a very predictable, rhythmic pattern (i.e., every 4 pedal revolutions). When we inspected it, we found that there was actually a break in one of the chain links. (We’re not sure if a broken chain caused the derailleur to break, or vice versa. Nevertheless, this was a game changer!) We knew we had to fix this problem or have a bike shop fix it before going any further. So, Jerry rode a short distance to a nearby store thinking there might be a way to fix the problem short-term. Not finding a quick fix, he prayed that God would provide a way to meet our needs. Literally 20-30 seconds later, his phone rang. Remember Cindy and Gerry (the ones who provided dinner for us the night before)? Gerry was calling Jerry, having seen whom he thought must be us- hanging out in the grass with our bikes and gear. (His wife, Cindy, happened to have Jerry’s phone number from our initial contact.) He sensed that he should check on us. And when he did, he found out what had happened, and asked how he could help. People, we can’t make this stuff up!! Fast forward... he ended up picking up our bikes, plus Jerry and Russell, and taking them to the nearest bike shop (in Charlottesville). His wife came and picked up Douglas, Avery, and me, plus all of our gear, and delivered us to the place where we are staying tonight in Charlottesville. The bike shop proceeded to fix my bike in no time- literally stopped what they were doing and got to work on our need! We were reunited with Jerry, Russell, and the bikes only after being at our hostel/bed-and-breakfast for only about 20 minutes. What a day!  And what a cool way for God to work- answering Jerry’s prayer specifically and immediately! It was certainly a faith building memory for us all!

What do you do when your dad is inspecting a broken chain derailleur? Go play in the nearby Rivanna River, of course!

What do you do when your dad is inspecting a broken chain derailleur? Go play in the nearby Rivanna River, of course!

Currently, I am sitting in a laundromat about 1/2 mile walk from where we’re staying, waiting for our laundry to dry- while listening to the sounds of both Spanish and English speaking folks doing the same. It’s storming outside, and I’m thankful for the shelter we have from the rain, wind, and lightning. I’m thankful for the cans of Brunswick Stew we so conveniently opened and heated up for our dinner tonight. As I reflect on these comforts, conveniences, and provisions, I can’t help but think about those who do not have such things. We are trying to keep this in mind as we go about our bike adventure- not only to remember to be thankful, but also to remember those whom we are indirectly supporting by raising awareness and funds for ECHO along the way. If you are not yet aware of what ECHO does, please take a minute to check out their website further (they are generously hosting this blog for us). And if you are able to donate at all (whether it’s a big or small amount), it would greatly encourage us on our journey!

First Two Days Down!

We had a wonderful first 2 days! Many friends and family came out to Yorktown with gusto to wish us well and give us an incredibly supportive send off! We’re so humbled by all the love and enthusiasm of everyone! 

Friends showing us some love as we pulled into the parking lot with truck loaded down with the bicycles and gear. 

Friends showing us some love as we pulled into the parking lot with truck loaded down with the bicycles and gear. 

Friends and family gathered for our send-off at the Yorktown Victory Monument. 

Friends and family gathered for our send-off at the Yorktown Victory Monument. 

Here we are dipping our tires into the Atlantic (actually, the York River, more accurately- but close enough, right?). Our official (while symbolic) start to our journey across the country.

Here we are dipping our tires into the Atlantic (actually, the York River, more accurately- but close enough, right?). Our official (while symbolic) start to our journey across the country.

And off we go!

And off we go!

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The first section of our ride- on Colonial Parkway- proved to be deceivingly difficult, as the surface is exposed aggregate, thus putting much more resistance on our already heavy bikes. In addition, the road has some challenging hills that snuck up on us! But we’re glad to have had the rough terrain on the front end of our first day. It made the next stretch- the Virginia Capital Trail- seem like the easiest thing ever!

Our ice cream stop at Kilwin’s in Williamsburg

Our ice cream stop at Kilwin’s in Williamsburg

We arrived our first night- after completing 33 miles. We were so proud of the boys (and ourselves)! We weren’t sure we would be able to do that much on Day 1, but we plugged on after an ice cream stop in Williamsburg and to gather some food at a grocery store. The beautiful campsite at Chickahominy Riverfront was so worth it! And the spaghetti we made that night was probably the best spaghetti any of us had ever tasted!

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Here is one of our views from our campsite at the Chickahominy River. 

Next stop: Westover Plantation in Charles City (a pre-Revolutionary War, Colonial-era Plantation). This is right off of the Virginia Capital Trail and home to the family of a dear high school friend who now runs the tourist and special events side of the place, as well as maintaining the beautiful gardens and a few farm animals. The 2-mile ride up their gravel drive was, by far, the most grueling part of our journey thus far!

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Our gracious hosts, The Erda’s

Our view of the main house from where we camped

Our view of the main house from where we camped

This is our beautiful campsite at Westover overlooking the James River. If you look to the far right in this photo, you will see a yew tree that was apparently planted by George Washington. 

This is our beautiful campsite at Westover overlooking the James River. If you look to the far right in this photo, you will see a yew tree that was apparently planted by George Washington. 

Introducing... Our Adventure

    If you are not yet aware, you should know that our family of 5 is planning to bike across the country from May through August.  We plan to start in Yorktown, VA, and end in Astoria, OR- the idea being that we dip our tire in the Atlantic Ocean (to begin) and then dip our tire in the Pacific Ocean (upon completion). We are immensely excited to begin our endeavor, knowing full well that our excursion promises to bring much joy, great challenges, the building of character in us all, new experiences, interactions with people whom we might not ordinarily come in contact with, educational opportunities along the way, and many occasions to rely on God for strength, safety, and endurance. We invite you to follow us on our journey.  Thank you for your interest! Our hope, too, is that people like you- who are excited for us and our adventure- would encourage us on our journey by considering a donation to ECHO, an organization that we wholeheartedly support.  We really like their "teach a man to fish" model of helping those around the world who struggle with hunger.

These are our bikes loaded down on a "practice trip" last fall.  The bikes for our cross-country trip will look similar, but will have a trailer off the back of each.  Will post an updated photo of this in the next month or so...

These are our bikes loaded down on a "practice trip" last fall.  The bikes for our cross-country trip will look similar, but will have a trailer off the back of each.  Will post an updated photo of this in the next month or so...

We are busy tying up loose ends and getting various logistics nailed down, while we both push hard to finish some projects at work and meet some lofty goals in homeschooling the boys.