Sunday, June 27, 2010
So we have made it 55 miles down the C&O canal towpath. Our first night we met boy scout troop 854 from Oakland, PA that was on their last day of the trail and they just so happened to have some left overs. Some noodles that cook up quickly and are mighty tasty, a few instant oatmeal pouches, and some flavor packets which are wonderful to hide the iron taste of the well water that is along the tow path. They were very friendly and we greatly appreciated their leftovers. One of them asked why we were doing since we weren't going to get anything for it. I told him our treasures are being stored in heaven!! We camped at the first site for 2 nights and then got up and walked to the Great Falls where we met Jim Shaner, a prayer walker who has been walking the ADT since 2002 in pieces. We went into the town of Rockville to see if we could find a wednesday night church service and Jim did not want to take us back to the trail so he graciously treated us to a hotel room! We never found a wednesday night church service. We did get turned away though by 2 different churches because they only had something for the youth and women only. I don't think Jesus would have turned away people wanting to study the word, but many churches have their own agendas these days. So we opted for bible study in the hotel lobby instead! It was nice we read I Peter.
The next day we walked about 5 miles without our packs with Jim, which was nice. It was very hot though and Jim had to leave early because the heat was just too much. We totally understood though, we wanted to go with him!! However God was calling us forward, so forward we marched. So there we were with our packs back on and a few miles ahead of us to get to the next camp grounds. Luckily for our feet, there are campgrounds every 4-6 miles apart. There are also wooden posts that show what mile you are on along the way. The first two days I could have swore that they were longer than a mile apart. Jeff decided to time them so we could figure out how long a mile was taking us, and it really made a difference. Since everything looks the same, 3 minutes seem like 30. We were averaging around a 17-22 minute mile. Our fastest one being 13:30!! Wow!
Ok for the ones who don't know, the C&O Canal was built to haul bulk commodities (non-perishables like coal, lumber, and wheat) from the Ohio valley to D.C. However, the canal only made it as far as Cumberland, MD before the Railroad really started to make huge improvements. So the canal was short lived. It is pretty neat because they used mules to pull the canal boats up and down the 187 miles along a towpath. There are numerous locks which a canal boat gets raised or lowered due to change in elevation. We got to see one work at the Great Falls Visitor Center. It was interesting to see the ingenuity. Another interesting fact about the canal is that it is hardly ever more that a few yards from the mighty Potomac river. The River is the border between Maryland and Virginia and back in the civil war, the confederate troops really wanted to destroy the canal which was used by the union! Some of the war's bloodiest battles occurred over and around this canal. Every 10 miles or so there is a little kiosk to tell you more about it, or what happened there. Also, several of the old Lock Attendant Houses are still there and have been restored. They are pretty neat too! The Lock attendant had to come out and work the lock any time a canal boat came through, day or night, holidays or sundays too. But they made a good living and the canal people gave them their houses to live in! What a deal!! Ok so that's enough history lesson today. If you want to know more look it up -CHESAPEAKE AND OHIO CANAL (C&O)
So like Kristin said, we are 55 miles down the trail near Brunswick, MD. I have developed some pretty awesome blisters now too, and our bodies are really starting to feel run down. We need a whole day of rest soon. We are thinking about trying to walk on down the towpath to Harper's Ferry and see if there isn't a place we can stay for a day to recharge. With only dried goods in our backpacks to eat, we can really tell the difference when we get a hot meal! Two days ago we walked by White's Ferry and they had a little diner there. White's ferry is the last operating toll ferry for cars on the Potomac. Anyway, so at the ferry Kristin got eggs sunnyside up and I got an omelet. It's amazing the energy level difference between a breakfast like that and oatmeal and raisins, and we even add protein powder! I think it's mental :) We have met some interesting people along the towpath, but not for a long enough time to really tell anyone our testimony in detail. Yea we are hiking the towpath, but almost EVERYONE is on a bicycle. It's so annoying!! Here we are hobbling along on one good foot collectively, and they come flying by like a formula one race car, and we can't help but be insanely jealous as they disappear around the next bend, which takes us another 15 minutes to even get to. Ugg!!! Things we have learned that we take for granted: Bikes!, recliner, more than one spoon, a shower, a sink, LAUNDRY, a closet full of clothes, fresh socks!!!, pantry, kitchen, etc...... We have really been having a good time through all of this. It's just that whenever we get to a wireless hotspot to update the blog, we are usually in some kind of pain or inconvenience. But today, we are in a nice little family campground that has electricity and actually has wireless internet broadcasting over the campground! It's pretty sweet! It's $28, but it's worth it for just the hot shower alone!!! We are probably going to pack up camp here in a few and make our way into Brunswick for some breakfast at Mommer's Diner. We ate there last night, and it is good!! Then on to Harper's Ferry to find a place to rest for a day or so. The phone calls and text messages from friends and family have been uplifting and heartwarming. Thank you all very much for your support and prayers!! We love you all!
Jim Shaner and "One Nation Under God - Walk Across America"
Monday, June 21, 2010
After praying for America, we got up to head over to the subway. That's when my chafing started to come back. It wasn't as bad but we had a long way to go and it was getting worse! If anyone has any suggestions for a fat guy who is walking a lot, I'm all ears! Anyway, we dug our way down to the trains and set off for Rosslyn, VA. When we came out we walked back across the Key Bridge to Georgetown, D.C. We located the C&O canal just after crossing back into D.C. This is where we will pick the trail back up, and we will take it on out to West Virginia. We were going to walk over to the C&O Canal Information center, but it was late on a sunday and figured them for closed. So we went a few blocks down to the Barnes and Noble to get on to their internet. We wanted to find a place to stay where we could get good and rested before we set off on the Canal, and we needed to do some laundry because we had no clean clothes left. We looked at every possible option in the D.C. area and the best option was the Holiday Inn back at Rosllyn, VA. We called ahead and reserved a room and walked back across the Key Bridge (and the Potomac River) to the Hotel. With chafing getting worse, backs hurting, and hungry, we checked in, started our laundry, and ate pizza while laying in clean hotel beds!! What a long day! We discovered that our 7th floor balcony overlooked the Potomac and Georgetown, but we were too tired to enjoy it for very long.
We woke up well rested, but now Kristin thinks she might have a torn/pulled muscle in her upper thigh and we are 16.6 miles from the next campsite on the C&O Canal. After a quick walk to Safeway and CVS we are getting ready to check out and head over to the information center and take it from there.
We love and miss all of you, please keep us in your prayers as we do you.
Sunday, June 20, 2010
After a restful night's sleep at Henry and Jean's, we were treated to another wonderful breakfast by Jean. Then, as if they had not been gracious enough, Jean took us down the road to get back on the trail at annapolis! What amazing, beautiful people!! We walked all day down very busy, very winding, very two lane country roads with no shoulder of course. It was exciting to say the least! Then we finally made it to Bowie, MD. We actually walked right by Darlene's office building and stopped in to say hi, but no one was there. :( So from there we were able to get on to the WB&A rail trail in Bowie. It's a nice paved walking path that cuts through Bowie parallel to HWY 197. At this point my day just goes down hill fast! I started to experience the worst chafing I have ever had in my entire life! It was unbearable. We managed to make it to a little city park were I tried everything we had with us to relieve the pain. Kristin even brought it up to a woman and her kids that was in the park (thanks a lot hunny), and she went home and got me some corn starch. Apparently that is supposed to help, but it just made it burn more. AAhhhh!!! It was awful, but not as bad as the alcohol wipes I tried first! We wound up resting at that park for a little over 2 hours until we just had to move on. It took forever to get 2 more miles down the road to a McDonald's, and I was hurting bad! We got to the McD's and got a cold drink and a cold metal chair. :) So while we were there we got on the internet and found all the churches in the area, and St. Pius the Tenth catholic church and school was about a mile away. We (I) hobbled the mile to the church and we were granted a nice grassy spot behind the baseball field by Mike Jones. He is the priest there. Thank you Mike!!! God Bless you! The last few hundred yards were the most intense, but we made it. We quickly set up the tent and I crashed. We had a very restful sleep and woke up right as rain! Thanks for all of you praying for me.
We went back to thank Mr. Jones and told him a little more about what we were doing and then he prayed over us and sent us on our way. We went back to the McD's to find out where we were going next. While we were there, a nice lady came up to us and asked if we were the couple that camped out behind the catholic church last night. We said yea, but how did you know? Apparently, the Priest was speaking on possessions that morning, and used our story for morning Mass. We were surprised and humbled. It is amazing how God is using us to touch so many people, and we don't have to hardly do anything but get up and walk!! God is AWESOME!!
Since the day before was so tough, we decided to hop on the bus for the 5 or so miles to get to Greenbelt National Park just north of D.C. After an interesting bus adventure we made it to within a mile and a half of the park. We hoofed the rest of the way to the park and then after another 2 miles into the park to the campgrounds, we found a spot to set up our tent. We were glad to have spent those 2 miles on wilderness trail. We actually had to put our hiking boots back on!! Yay!! It was so beautiful. We saw a momma deer with her spotted fawn and lots of pretty birds and squirrels and such. It was a nice brake from the ominous screaming tires and honking trucks of the country roads that's for sure. After setting up camp and taking showers we were ready for bed. It was a few hours until sundown, but we were in bed waiting! Then about 2:00am I woke up with the most horrendous back ache ever. Nothing helped. I tossed and turned, and eventually had to just get up and sit on the picnic table. It was really awful. After Kristin woke up we made Mac-n-cheese with canned chicken and red peppers for breakfast and headed down the road to see D.C. We stashed our packs under the vestibule on our tent so we were light and free!! It felt like we could just run all the way there, even with my back still hurting! So we missed the bus at the stop and went into the TGI Friday's and got a cold beverage and waited for the next bus. Once we caught the bus, we rode it to the Metro Station. From there we hoped on the subway and rode it on into D.C. where we got off to see the Holocaust Museum. When we got there they told us that all the passes had been given out for the permanent exhibit, but we got so see a lot of interesting stuff. It was moving and very sad. What an awful smear in humanity's timeline. We will never forget!! After seeing the museum we had just enough time to catch the rail back to the bus back to Greenbelt National Park. We ate dinner and went to bed.
I woke up with a little less of a back ache, and Kristin had developed one too. So we tidied up our campsite and headed off to church. We had found a little church a few miles away we wanted to visit. So when we reached the exit to the park we hailed a cab and he took us to the church. We arrived just in time for sunday school. It was a small little church with about 15-20 people and our testimony went right along with what they were learning and what the Rev. was preaching that day!! Imagine that! The people there were delightful and they gladly shared their coffee and goodies with us. Yum! The Pastor had us get up and tell our testimony which was good. After church a nice woman named Karen offered to take us back to the Metro Station so we could go back to D.C. Thank you Karen!!! God Bless you!!
So that brings you guys up to speed. Kristin and I surfaced from the subway in Chinatown, D.C. We are at the Starbucks updating and checking emails. We spotted an authentic Indian food restaurant that we might go by and check out. Then it is off to pray in front of the Capitol!! May God Bless the USA!!! Lord knows we need it right?
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
We knocked on Darlene's door and were immediately greeted with warm hugs from her and her husband Roy. When I sat down I was telling them how for 2 days my feet had been really swolen and tingling and she said she would get me a pot of hot water and epsom salt to put them in. Which was great because that is exactly what I was thinking I needed to do. Even more incredible was she said when she woke up that morning the spirit was telling her to soak my feet when I got there! So that was fantastic because my swelling went down and I felt so much better. We joined her and Roy for some delicious spaggheti and sharing stories of how the holy spirit works and all the wonderful things God is using their home for. It is truly an amazing ministry they have going on in their home. After dinner Jeff and I took some quick showers and got ready for worship.
Lots of people showed up and their house could not have been any fuller. The worship service was beautiful. Two straight hours of music and praising God and prayer and thanksgiving. It was like a worship jam session!! The holy spirit filled their home and ministered to all who were there. We shared our testimony with all of them and many found the faith God has given us inspiring. They all prayed for us and we received some confirmation on some things we were feeling in our spirit before we left Oklahoma. It was about midnight or so before we finished the service. We met so many beautiful people who were filled with the spirit of God. I can't wait to see you all again, in this life or in the one to come!
The Curry family had an extra bedroom with a tempurpedic mattress and they allowed us to sleep in it. It was heavenly! I planned on sleeping in but my body was so used to getting up that I woke up at 7 and tried to go back to sleep but did not until 30 minutes before I had to get up. When I did get up the Curry's were away at work but told us to make ourselves at home and so I swam in their tub with epsom salt and lavender. My body was very thankful and rejuvenated, and I smelled great!! Darlene had arranged for a friend of hers to pick us up and drive to Annapolis so we could check it out. Her name is Jean. She and her husband, Henry, were a blessing. I will tell you more about them later.
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Before Kristin and I left for Delaware I was having some issues. I was worrying about how we were going to survive out there. As a husband and provider, it was really concerning. I already had a lot of knowledge about the wilderness and about what to eat, how to make emergency shelter, which plants to put on bug bites and cuts, and general bushcraft skills of that nature. But, I was just clamoring for more information. I couldn't learn enough fire making skills, or new knots to tie for this and that, or which trapping techniques work best in certain situations. It was starting to consume me. Then on day Kristin and I got up early to eat breakfast at The Diner. They only take cash so I went across town to the bank to get cash. After making a withdrawl, I was pulling out onto the street and I remember seeing an almost brand new shoe in the middle of the road. It was a very nice New Balance running shoe. I thought to myself, "Man! Someone is really missing a nice shoe." Then I just drove on and promptly forgot about it because after all it is just a shoe in the road right!? :) So Kristin and I ate our breakfast and then drove all over town and to some neighboring towns finding our tent and boots and other gear and such. Then after 10 or 11 hours we were back in Norman. I had to go to Lowe's to get something to fix on the house before we moved out and headed across town. When I was coming out of Lowe's, I SAW THE OTHER SHOE!! I thought to myself, "Man! Weird. Someone must REALLY be missing these shoes." Then I again just promptly drove off. Because after all, it's just a shoe in the road right?!! HA! So I get like 50 feet past the shoe and God gives me a very fatherly slap in the back of my spiritual head and says, "Jeff!! turn around and pick up that shoe right now! Could I have made it any clearer son?!" So I pulled a U-turn and didn't even get out of the car, I just open the door and pull a rodeo cowboy move and snag it up in mid-stride. Man it was a really nice shoe. Black with red Logo and striping. So I said, "Ok God. Let's just go see if that first shoe is still there." So I drove back across town and sure enough, it was right where I had seen it that morning! So I picked up that shoe. I looked at them, and it was a matching pair of shoes!! I'm talking left and right, same size and color, pair of shoes. Whoa! I thought. So I said, "Ok God, who are these for?" Turns out that we had just bought Kristin a nice new pair of boots and these shoes were too small for me. As I looked up, I saw a man sitting in the sliding side door of a van on the side of the road. I knew in my spirit that these shoes were for him. So I drive over to him and get out with the shoes in hand. I asked him if he was alright and he replied in the thickest Jamaican accent that he was just fine. They had ran out of gas and his friends went to go get some gas. As I was struggling to understand him, I was looking at his clothes. He had obviously been doing some sort of construction like tiling or painting or drywall. Something like that but as I looked down at his shoes I noticed that he had up these ratty corduroy houseshoes. They were pretty worse for wear. I'm talking big toe hanging out bad. So I asked him if he needed a pair of shoes, and he very politely said that he was fine and that he didn't need any. So I said Ok and that I didn't need them either, and I just set them down on the ground in front of him and turned around to leave. As I did that he quickly bent over and picked them up! He made some room in the back of the van and very carefully made sure that they wouldn't be in the way back there. He treated them like fine china! All the while telling me that "well maybe I can work in these." I was overjoyed! I said "man God Bless you today, God Loves you!" And I turned around and left. On the drive home, I was thinking, "Man! God just totally hooked that guy UP!!" I mean he needed a pair of shoes in a bad, bad way, and God just totally provided for him! Then I heard God tell me, "Yea I did. Now quit worrying about how YOU are going to take care of yourself and Kristin on this walk. I will provide for you." I was just completely floored. I mean I was worrying about it so much that God had to use me in the way that he was going to provide for me before I could fully trust him! Upon realizing that, all my fears and self doubt and concerns just fell off me. It allowed me to put full and total trust into God.
It is one thing to say you trust and Love God. But it is another thing to actually do that.
Monday, June 14, 2010
When we woke up at the hotel we did not want to get out of bed but we had to check out soon so we took advantage of the complimentary breakfast. We needed to ship some things home so we headed for the post office. We were still exhausted from the previous day so we made some phone calls to the people we had met in the area, and got a ride for a few miles to Tuckahoe State Park so we could rest our feet a little while longer. A beautiful sister in Christ named Dawn picked us up and gave us a ride. We enjoyed a wonderful conversation of our Lord Jesus Christ. Dawn thought of her friend in Arnold across the bridge who has a prayer/worship service in her home on Monday nights and wanted to connect us with her. So we had to say goodbye to Dawn and find our campsite. There just so happened to be an ADT shelter at the park that was free to camp in. It was a three sided lean shelter with lots of wasp nests and bumble bees, surrounded by a beautifully lush green moat of Poison Ivy. It was a real treat!!! After a nice night of sleep we woke up friday morning, packed up and cooked some oats. We got started down the trail and the weather was great, not too hot yet. Just a mile down the road we ran into a soldier who was doing his morning workout with his pack. We stopped to talked to him a bit and asked for tips on how we might prevent our feet from the horrible pain we were experiencing. He said first of all, get rid of the hiking boots since we were going to be on asphalt for a while. Thanks to G.I. Joe I am now wearing a nice pair of running shoes that I picked up at the Reebok store at the outlet mall in Queenstown. They really are making a huge difference. The weight on our pack has increased a little from our boots but I will say it is worth it for now!!
We only went about 7 or 8 miles that day. I was praying for a place to camp and asking God to show us. I felt in my spirit him telling me, "Ask and ye shall receive". We sat down to take a break in front of this beautiful farm home and I told Jeff we should just go ask if we could pop our tent. This was the first time we had had to ask to camp in someone's yard so we were a little nervous. As we were walking up the long driveway I saw a Jesus fish on the car and above the door and I felt relieved. We knocked on the door and a beautiful little ten year old girl came to the door. We asked if her parents were home and she called for her dad. Mr. Sultenfuss came to the door and we told him we were walking across America and we needed a place to camp. He said he saw us earlier that day sitting down by the road, and said we would probably be by. We told him we were walking for Christ and he said, "oh your Christians, come on in." He led us to the kitchen table and introduced us to his children and we sat and drank some cold water and told them our testimony.
Kristin and I finished telling them our story, and their father Mark invited us to stay for dinner. We were delighted and surprised! While we were still at the kitchen table talking we met a friend of theirs. An 18 year old guy by the name of Randy. We will tell you about him in a bit. Now Luke Sultenfuss is the 14 year old son of the house, and he is one amazing kid! He loves to hunt and fish and experience the wild things of this world. Perhaps even more than me!! He is also an accomplished Taxidermist. He specializes in waterfowl mounts and has one impressive turkey that Randy and he worked on together. Luke also has a brand new black lab puppy by the name of Teal. She is going to be one impressive bird dog! Luke found out that I train dogs as well and was delighted to ask me for advice. Which I gladly shared. Audrey is their 10yr/old daughter and she was so sweet and kind. She was into cleaning and showing her lamb. Then there is 3yr/old Sophie. She was the cuter, more adorable, and more talkative Sultenfuss. I hope that the casting crew for the musical Annie gets to see her. She's the perfect Annie!! Unfortunately we were unable to meet their other 3 kids and Mrs Sultenfuss, but if they are half as nice and Godly as the rest of their family I don't know if Kristin and I could have handled it!! What an amazing family! Shortly after Mark took me into the small town of Centreville, MD to pick up the authentic sicilian pizza we were to have for dinner. It was very good!! After a great dinner and conversation, there were some chores to be done around the farm... We have some pretty great footage of Kristin milking their goat!! After that they took us on a truckbed-tour of their farm. We got to see some deer, baby woodducks, and the spot of their farm where Mark had come to accept Jesus as Lord! When we returned back to the house, Mark built a big fire and we roasted marshmallows, and shared scripture and understanding. It was the perfect end to a perfect day! We had the most restful sleep out under their pecan tree that night! In the morning Mark prepared us homemade pancakes made with fresh goat's milk and hand ground flour. They were amazing!! The homegrown organic eggs didn't hurt either. :) After breakfast, a load of laundry, showers, and coffee, we took pictures and bid farewell to the Sultenfusses. We did not want to leave them. We felt like we had known them for years and we are blessed to have people like that in our spiritual family! We will be praying for you guys!! Thank you SOOOOOooo much for your love and hospitality!!! We can't wait to meet again someday. Whether it is here or in THE Kingdom!! May God bless you all.
Now when we met Randy at the Sultenfusses we had mentioned how we wanted to attend church somewhere on sunday. Randy immediately offered to take us to his church on sunday. We made arrangements to call him saturday night so he would know where to pick us up on sunday morning. We were excited.
Randy is an incredible young man. His faith is so rock solid and he is not embarrassed or shy about talking about God. He and I have a lot in common as well. We loves to hunt and has a lot of the same views about creation as I do. It was refreshing and see and hear Randy speak about God. You just don't see someone his age with faith like that very often. We have his parents (and God) to thank for that. All of the Nelson children are strong believers in Christ and are an uplifting family to be around and learn from.
So after bidding farewell to Mark and his kids, we headed back down the trail. We felt like God had really put a quickening into our step and we were making great time! We happened to pass a garage sale on the way and was treated to some shade and a cold bottle of water by some wonderful believers there. God is allowing us to meet the most wonderful people on this journey! After hanging out there for a little while we were able to make it almost to Queenstown, MD when I got this crazy chafing going on! It was the most miserable couple of miles so far!!!! Not to mention our feet were starting to really hurt too. Thankfully just outside of Queenstown there was an outlet mall where we were able to sit down in some A/C and get some cold drinks and a fresh cookie. That made it all better. We went into L.L.Bean and picked up a travel pillow for me, and a new shirt and socks for Kristin (Unfortunately for her, the socks turned her legs into a big rash. But the socks fit me just fine!! Man they are nice hehehe!!!). We also were able to pick up some really nice running shoes there. The women who were working at the Reebok store where we got our shoes were so helpful and encouraged by our testimony. The manager even gave us a great discount when we went to pay. It took us off guard and we were very humbled once again. Thank you so much!! After a good break (and many strange looks) at the outlet mall we headed back down the trail. We managed to walk another 4 miles or so to a little Methodist Church in Graysonville. Both Kristin and I had a very uneasy feeling about camping there and decided to give Randy a call. He lived in the area and we thought that he could tell us a better place close by. He promptly told us that he was going to come pick us up and we could camp in his front yard!! We were so relieved! On the way back to his house he took us to Ledo's Italian Restaurant where we met his Sister Andrea and a singing sheriff!! After some incredible pasta, we went back to Randy's house, set up our tent and crashed out! In the morning Randy told us we could take showers and we got ready for church. After getting ready and packing up camp, Randy and Andrea took us to the Pier just down from our house where we saw lots of minnows and some skate (stingrays). It was a beautiful morning out on the bay!!
After hanging out on the pier we headed off to church. When we arrived we were treated to bagels and coffee and plenty of smiling faces! Apparently Mark Sultenfuss had just happened to get a random call from Randy's pastor the night before and Mark told him all about us. So after a great sunday school lesson about being fearless we found our seats and was introduced to the pastor Tom. He asked if we would mind sharing a little about our testimony, and we said "Of Course!!" So we were able to talk to the congregation a bit about what we were doing. Their church is a very close family. I don't think that I have been in a church that prays that much for each other in a very long time. You could feel the love of Jesus through the people there and we were blessed and encouraged by them! God Bless Island Alliance Church!!
After church Randy and Andrea took us to Stevensville Crab Shack. The waitress, who was a friend of theirs, talked me into trying my first soft crab. I gotta tell you, it was so good!! I'm hooked. Their food is some of the best I've had and they are some of the nicest people too!! While we were ordering our food, Randy was telling them about our trip and testimony. A woman who was waiting on her order overheard the conversation and recognized us from church. She quietly walks up to Randy and hands him $40 for us to use on lunch!!! I knew something was up when I saw the look on the faces of Randy and the Crab Shack employees. After she left he told me, and Kristin and I were amazed! After our spectacular meal of crab and scallops and clam and shrimp and other tastes of the bay, I went back in to pay for our meal. After I had paid I realized that I had forgotten to tell them about the big bag of their seasoning that I was wanting to buy to send to my mom. The owner Bob told me to put my wallet away and that he would be happy to give it to me. I was amazed. Then he told me to wait there and he went back into the kitchen for a few minutes. When he came back out he had two Jesus fish necklaces in his hand for Kristin and I. Turns out that they are Godly believers and he is actually going on a mission trip to Cuba soon. It really moved Kristin and I. Then as if that wasn't enough, the girl who waited on us and was friends with Randy and Andrea came up and handed us $10!! We were blown away!! THEN, as we were leaving Bob comes out and puts a $50 bill in my hand and tells me that our meal was on him!!! I can't even begin to explain the feeling we had as we left their place!! The people there at the Crab Shack are some of the most wonderful, hard working and caring people we've met!! You guys have blessed us in so many ways and humbled us to no end. Thank you for your generosity and kindness. Randy and Andrea were blown away too! You have touch all of our hearts!
For incredible food, smiling faces, and local hospitality you DO NOT want to miss Stevensville Crab Shack! They are located in the shadow of the Bay Bridge at Rt 8 & Pier One Road in Stevensville, MD (410-604-CRAB) Ask for Bob or Cheri and tell them we said Hi!!!
So after lunch we headed to the beach which had a great view of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. (Some of you received pictures!) We enjoyed soaking our feet in the sandy beach after the humid, sweaty walk we took to get there. Andrea and I had a nice talk and I told her about scavenger hunts, an activity Norman Community Church does in their Disciple groups where they go out into the field and ask God to show them someone that needs prayer. She was smitten with the idea and couldn't wait to tell her youth pastor. We did not have any plans for the day so we went back to the Nelson's home and met Randy and Andrea's parents. We got to spend the evening with them and ate some really yummy food cooked by Mrs. Nelson. They were such a beautiful family. We shared testimonies and talked about our awesome Lord all evening! We were sad that we were going to have to leave them soon. Randy was going to stay the night at the Sultenfuss's house so we got to sleep in his comfy bed. We didn't drool on your pillow Randy! Haha!! We woke up this morning and went with Andrea to drop off Rachel, the younger sister at school. Then Andrea took us across the bridge. Andrea has a beautiful spirit and we were sad to see her go. She did not want us to leave either. We are with you in spirit sweet Andrea!! Keep your mind on the things above sister!
So we are sitting here in Arnold on the west side of the Bay bridge updating our blog so you all can read about the awesome things that are happening on our journey. The soaking, a prayer/worship meeting starts at 7 so we are just gonna wait around for that. The weather is beautiful here right now, 82 degrees and sunny. I think we will go find a post office soon and check out what Arnold has soon. So over and out for now. God Bless the readers of our blog!
"May God hold you in His hands until His return!"
~ The Vandagriff's
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
Today started out great. We woke up and Kelly and Felicia insisted that we come in and have coffee and bagels. So we got dressed and headed inside for breakfast. It was such a treat! Felicia was trying her hardest to give us a ride down the road, but Kristin, Kelly, and I all felt that we should walk. Kelly finally convinced his wife that if she gave us a ride down the road that we might miss someone that God wanted us to talk with. She reluctantly agreed. She is such a caring person! We finished our breakfast and coffee and said our good byes. May God bless the Cannon’s household with peace and joy everyday!
After leaving we were thinking how amazing it was that they literally lived right on the trail we were walking. It was just too much to be coincidence. From the Cannon’s house we walked down into Milton, DE. It is an adorable little town that was originally founded as a ship building town eons ago. Every house looks like a doll house and there are little shops and things. The trail led us down to Magnolia Street. We have told this to Felicia and she told us we didn’t want to go all the way down to Magnolia street because it was quicker to take Broad St. Well we just had to keep walking on down to Magnolia because the town was so nice, and it’s a good thing we did. There was a really awesome little pond and a cobblestone sidewalk that led us through all kinds of flowers and other lush greenery. It really lifted our spirits even higher than they already were. You might as well call Milton, Mayberry!
After leaving Milton behind we headed out of town on a little country road. We only got about 4.5 miles down the road when Kristin’s feet started to really hurt. Like I said before, our packs are entirely too heavy and we need to run into a post office bad. Not only are our packs too heavy, but we are definitely out of shape. So we stopped on an old farm called Burton Farm and sat down to look at Kristin’s feet. Sure enough, she had a blister and really swollen feet. We treated the blister with moleskin and ate some jerky and trail mix. After a while we decided to give it another try. For the first few minutes Kristin was saying, “Lord if you can die on the cross for me, I can do this!” then in the next breath she was saying, “Jesus you were fully God! I am not fully God I cannot do this! PLEASE PLEASE send someone to give us a ride!!!”She was able to walk another half a mile down the trail before she was really in pain. We were thinking that we were just going to have to set the tent up in farmer Joe’s back forty and rest. It was at that point when Sherry Gore from Annapolis showed up. She pulled over and asked us if we needed some water because it was like 95 outside. Kristin promptly told her that we had plenty of water, but the look on her face was enough for Sherry to ask if she could give us a ride! We jumped right in! She had been coming out every weekend to section hike and bike the ADT (american discovery trail) and told us that she had the same map we did and that the mileage was all wrong. Instead of only having .97 miles to go we had over 4! We were even more thankful. She took us the rest of the way to Redden State Park headquarters. She gave us her phone number and told us to call her if we needed a ride over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge because she only lived about 5 minutes from there. We were in awe of how God was taking care of us. It has only been two days, but each day we had pushed it to our breaking point and God picked us up and took us the rest of the way. Talk about affirming your faith.
We found no one here at the state park, and was surprised to see a nice screened in patio on the porch of the headquarters. It was open and had no maps of the campgrounds, and the phone numbers we called were all after hours with it being a saturday, BUT... they had two really comfortable adirondack chairs on the front porch, and we made use of them for the next 4 hours or so! We used the time to watch some videos of people back home telling us good bye and passing on their words of wisdom. It was nice, but made us miss everyone a little. We also sewed some of our patches on our backpacks. Turns out, I am a way better seamster that Kristin! Thanks MOM!! I also found an outside faucet, power outlet, and a portapotty. We filled up our water bottles and made some pomegranate raspberry sun-tea in one of our bottles. It was de-lish! After several hours a volunteer firefighter came by and let us in the office to get some good maps and a camp permit. The cool thing is that it is free to camp here. Unlike $32p/night at Cape Henlopen S.P. We stayed on the screened in porch until the sun started going down and then went and set up camp. We made red quinoa and black bean soup with tapatio sauce. It was amazing! We went to bed totally exausted and reflecting how God had provided.
Friday, June 4, 2010
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
Ok so we have had a whirlwind roadtrip to get here and we are only one good night's rest away from day 1. I can't even begin to say what all has happened already in preparation for this journey. However, I would like to thank a few people for their help and support so far.
Tuesday, June 1, 2010
This journey begins the summer of 2009 when Jeff and I started praying to God asking him to show us the “TRUTH, the whole truth, and nothing but the TRUTH!!” We had come across some Hopi Indian prophecies which had some similarities to Revelation. We found it interesting but were left a little confused, so that is what prompted us to start praying for the Truth. Just days after that, he began to show us things and do things in our lives that were incredible and we knew only God could do.
One night in June, Jeff was in the shower while I was sitting on the porch. I was watching a thunderstorm and meditating on God. While Jeff was in the shower the presence of God came upon him so strong it brought him to his knees. He was crying and just praising God and telling him he would give all control back over to him. When he stood up he felt a skintight plate of armor come over his entire body and an immeasurable amount of people standing behind him. He did not turn to look for he knew in his spirit they were angels. After that God told him to read Matthew 23. We had been studying the words of Jesus written in Matthew 24 previous to this moment. After that we began going to a bible study that I had been to a few times but not regularly because it was far from home. We knew of it from our best friend and brother in Christ, "Wellie Big Bubbles" Ray Johnson!!
God continued to show us things and made the scriptures come to life. He really showed us that the Bible was in fact His Word. There are so many little stories which had a huge impact during that summer. In meeting a woman God put in our lives, I learned the meaning of a blessing. “A Blessing is treasure stored in heaven!” At this time I was also in summer school, taking two classes on top of learning wisdom from God. So my mind was being overloaded with so many things. By the time summer school was over I was having the feeling that I was not supposed to finish school. I thought it was strange because I had been working so hard for the past 8 years and I was about to start my last semester. I went back and forth on going to school or not so God allowed my mind to become confused and I went to school, exited to be finally finishing the degree I had began in 2001. Throughout the semester I heard a whisper a couple of times to quit school. I was always shocked when I heard it because how and why would God want me to do that? So I said, “God if that is you keep reminding me.” Around the middle of October 2009 I had been studying and practicing my recital music and extremely exited about all of it. I sat down in my chair to read the bible and I began to feel my mind slow down and a numbness come over my body. I knew God was about to speak to me because he had made me feel this before except he did not speak. God spoke and said, “QUIT SCHOOL and TRUST ME.” I thought, “ok” and immediately my flesh began to think of all the worst things that could happen if I did that. He said, “Don’t worry about any of that, I will take care of it all.” So I had been given direct orders from God himself, and I was very exited. So exited I did not even go to sleep that night until 3 a.m. When I awakened the next morning my mind immediately said, “You want me to do WHAT?!!!!!” All day that day I talked to God about what he wanted me to do. I was scared to death and did not want to do it. I told him I must have peace and joy before the day’s end if this was really what he wanted me to do. By the end of the day I had a beautiful peace followed by an insurmountable joy. I thought I was going to explode I was so full of joy!! So the next day I withdrew from my classes and that night Jeff and I drove to the lake and stood on fishermen’s point at Lake Thunderbird and meditated on God and what he was doing in our lives. On the way back to the car Jeff got in the car and I stepped a few feet in front of the car and saw a huge tree surrounded by other trees. All I noticed is how still the tree was, as if it was frozen in time. All the other trees around it were affected by the breeze, but this one tree was not moving. God spoke and said, “Be as still as that tree and wait on me, now go tell your husband what I just said.”
-Jeff here!- As a husband it was very hard to “be still.” On top of being still, God had told me to quit my job. I couldn’t see how we were going to be able to pay bills and live without any source of monetary income. It was a very trying time. One moment Kristin would be freaking out about how we were going to make it and I would be fine. Then the next moment I would be freaking out and she would be fine. I even went back to welding for one day, but God put the kibosh on that in a BIG way. I will tell you more about that later. HE just wanted us to “BE STILL.”
Now about a year prior to all of this, God planted the idea to walk across the country into our minds at the same time, but we were miles apart. At the time we were excited, but not committed. It seemed more like a fun thing to day dream about than a real event. We had a great time watching videos about people walking across america and learned about a lot of interesting folks. We quickly convinced ourselves that there was no way we could do something like that. After all, Kristin was still in school, and I was very busy gigging and teaching. In our minds, it just could not have come from God. So we lost interest. It wasn’t until a few months ago when God brought it back to our attention, and that He was serious about us going.
There were SOOooo many instances where God showed us that he was real and/or taught us a lesson. There is the water bottle story, the jeep story and the tools story to name a few. I am literally writing this in the car on the way to tulsa to give my car to my sister on our way to Delaware. So I won’t try and type those stories right now. I will get them up on here a little later. I do however want to share with you the story about the shoes.
Kristin and I had accepted the fact that we were going on this journey, and were right in the middle of selling off all our possessions. We were excited and dazed all in the same breath. I was also starting to worry about how we were going to survive out there. “How were we going to take care of ourselves and get the things we needed? What if this happens? What if that happens? Are my wilderness skills up to the challenge?” I had a million unanswered questions running through my head and I was frantically gathering knowledge. I got to the point where I prayed to God to just show me what I needed to know.
Kristin and I decided to got eat breakfast early one morning so I got up and we to the bank to get some cash. Coming out of the bank I saw a really nice New Balance shoe in the middle of the road. It was almost brand new and I thought to myself, “man someone is really going to be missing that!” Of course that was about all I thought about it and quickly hurried over to the diner to meet Kristin for breakfast. We ate and then ran errands all day. We went to edmond to order our tent and look at other gear and buy some clothes and what not. We were gone all day. Well that evening after we got back to norman I needed to go over to Lowe’s to get something. Coming out of Lowe’s I saw the other shoe. I thought “weird! someone is really missing those shoes!” But I passed it and went down the road. That is when God told me to turn around and get that shoe. So I did. I didn’t even stop or get out of the car, I just opened the door to the car and swooped it up without stopping. It was a very nice New Balance tennis shoe. It was charcoal grey with red lettering and trim. I said “ok God, let’s go see if the other shoe is where I saw it this morning.” (like he didn’t know :) So I drove back across town and sure enough, that shoe was still right in the middle of the road by the bank where I first saw it that morning. It was like it hadn’t even moved. So I picked up that shoe. I couldn’t believe it, it was an exact match! I had a matching pair of shoes that I found on the same day, ten hours and miles apart from each other and they were almost brand new! Now, we had just bought Kristin a new pair of hiking boots, and these shoes were too small for me. So I said “ok what do I do with these shoes?” I looked up and saw a man sitting in the sliding door of a big van on the side of the road. I knew I was supposed to talk to him so I drove over. I got out of the car with these shoes in hand and asked if he was alright. in the thickest jamaican accent you have ever heard, he told me he was fine. They had ran out of gas and that his friends had gone to get some. Looking at this guy, he had obviously been working hard all day doing some sort of construction. Either tiling or painting or something like that. I looked down and he had on those corduroy house shoes that you see at wal-mart. They were pretty worse for wear too. He had a toe sticking out and they looked pretty well worn. So I asked him if he needed a pair of shoes. He politely declined my offer so I just told him I didn’t need them and set them down on the curb by him. As I turned around to leave he very excitedly picked up the shoes and put them carefully in the van saying, “well maybe I can work in these.” I was overjoyed. I said “God bless you today and God loves you.” As I was driving home I was just thinking about how awesome it was that God hooked that guy up with a really sweet pair of shoes, but God told me that it went deeper than that. He showed me that all of this worry about how I was going to take care of Kristin and myself was just silly. He allowed me to experience how God literally provides for his children, and when I realized that, all my anxieties just fell away.
It has been the most challenging and difficult experience in our lives so far (and we haven’t even started walking yet), but we are willing to do whatever it takes to follow God and his plan for us. We have gotten rid of all of our cars, and our house, and all of our dishes, furniture, tools, and clothes. Basically we are down to our backpacks and a few family heirlooms. I can’t even begin to explain how liberating it is to be free from all of that bondage and literal baggage. If we put to much faith in the things we own they WILL end up owning you. but that is another story for another day.
We will be updating this blog every chance we get and we are eagerly expecting to hear from all of our family and friends along the way. So please leave a comment and tell us what you think. We love you and pray that God keeps you in the palm of His hands until we meet again.
Walking for the Truth