Wherever He leads I'll go

Posts tagged ‘travel’

Interstates, Toll Roads, Pig Trails and Conestoga Wagons…yeah, it’s long but not too wordy!

Unless you have been in a coma you are aware of a certain angry young woman named Sandy.  She and I almost met personally since I was in Connecticut and Rhode Island when she decided to visit.  However, I’m no fool.  I’m from Louisiana.  I KNOW when it’s time to leave!  So…I packed my bags, loaded my car and headed home three days early.

Sandy, no matter how scary she was, was only a small part of this trip.  There were people I met along the way; places I discovered; kindnesses shown; experiences had and beauty each step of the way. I told you all in my last blog entry that I had found places to stay along the way and while I was in Connecticut.  These places were an important part of this journey.

My first stop was in Benton, TN at Camp Agape.  This place is surrounded by beauty…mountains, a lake, trees.  Erick Swallows is the camp director and I appreciate him so much!  He put two cots in a spare room in the welcome center just for me.  I had everything I needed and was pleased that I had made a new friend and contact as well.

 I was up before daylight the next morning.  I watched the sun come up over the lake and then got back on the road.  This time I was headed to Virginia where I would stay for two nights.

I arrived at Camp Shenandoah Springs in Madison, VA right before sunset.  To get to this facility you take a small dirt/gravel road that seems like no more than an old trail.  Then you get to the gate and realize that you have arrived.

The owners and directors of this Christian campground are a wonderful couple named Doug and Anne Farmer.  I enjoyed their company and their facility.  They offered me an apartment above the office.

It was perfect! A bunch of stairs but perfect none the less. 🙂

The next morning I set out to see some of the sights.  Anne had told me about an Apple Harvest Festival right down the road so off I went.

Virginia is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been..especially the Shenandoah Valley.  Of course I took a drive to see as much as I could.

I happened upon a road that caught my attention.  It was a smooth drive on nice black top…at first.  As soon as the black top ended I saw a sign that proclaimed that the county did not maintain this portion of the road.  It didn’t look too bad so I kept going.  As I drove further and further up the mountain the road got rougher and rougher.  I was having so much fun taking pictures and I ran into someone who told me my car could handle what was ahead. He lied. This so-called “road” couldn’t have been much more than a pig trail.  It was beautiful…

…but the ride became…challenging.  The road got rougher and steeper.  Then it started to have mud holes…some that covered the entire road.   The further I went, the worse it got. Conestoga wagons drove faster than I did on that road. I rarely reached 5 mph.  Why did I continue you ask?  Because I’m obviously not the brightest bulb in the box.

I can’t tell you how many deals I made with God on that road.  My one consolation was that I wasn’t going to have to go back the same way I came in.  The guy I ran into told me it kept going until it got back to black top in the Shenandoah National Park.  He lied…again.  I reached the end only to find that the road into the park was barred.  So…I turned around and went back the way I came. Later, that same year, I was back on black top and thanking God that my car still ran.

The next morning I headed out once again on the final leg of my journey…and by the middle of the day I would have gladly driven on that pig trail again.  You see, I’m used to driving in the midwest, the southwest and out west where the roads are traffic free and the spaces are wide open.  I wasn’t in Kansas anymore!  Take a look at the comparison.

Awful…and expensive.  I took the toll roads because they were supposedly quicker.  I found out later that the route I took using these toll roads only saved me 15 minutes and they cost me nearly $50!  To add insult to injury my GPS said to take the next exit to the left and when I did I ended up in the Bronx.  I was not impressed and the deal making with God started anew.

I arrived in Connecticut at dusk.  The house I was staying in is owned by a church in Connecticut and is located on the Willimantic Camp Meeting Association property in Willimantic, CT.  It was a blessing!

It was way more than I needed but so nice to have.  3 bedrooms, a screen porch where I had breakfast in the mornings, a washer and dryer, fully stocked kitchen…it had it all.

I spent the next several days meeting with different people about the possibility of reaching out to the Native Americans there.  To read about that you can go to the page marked “New England” on this blog.  I also had the opportunity to give a presentation to a group at the campground where I was staying.

Besides the meetings and contacts I was making I also went to Rhode Island to visit with old family friends, Ronny and Sug Grant, and that was such a pleasure.   I did a little exploring while in Connecticut as well.  You know how much I love cemeteries and you can’t drive 10 feet without coming across another one while in New England.  And they are ALL old!

I got a chance to drive to Mystic, CT.  Mystic is a town that revolves around its seaport and was featured in the movie, “Mystic Pizza” starring Julia Roberts.  And yes, I had a slice and it was pretty good. 🙂

The colors were fading but the ground was covered with leaves…

The architecture in New England is beautiful and very…well..very New England.

I got the chance to go to Kent Falls State Park, a little piece of land in CT with a beautiful waterfall…

I also got a chance to go into historic Litchfield, CT.  It was a beautiful day.  The wind was blowing and the sun was shining.  Here is an old church  in Litchfield…a Congregational Church….very popular in New England.

Decorations were as plentiful as leaves.  They ranged from beautiful…

…to bizarre!

Everyone I met was especially kind and welcoming, which kind of squashes the theory that New Englander’s are unfriendly!  And…while I was the one with the accent to them, I could have listened to them all day.  One gentleman sounded like every Mark Whalberg movie I had ever seen.

New England is quaint, historic (for America), beautiful, crowded and small. No matter where I was, it didn’t take long to get anywhere else…even other states! But even with that fact, I did alot of driving and I must admit, I’m a bit tired of it and I’m glad to be home.  I’ve put almost 20,000 miles on my car just since April! But there is one thing I know for sure.  God’s Holy Spirit is in New England.  I experienced Him in His people and I am a better person for having gone there.

The next few months are going to be dedicated to speaking in churches, raising funds for next Spring, Summer and Fall and working on schedules, programs and groups for the different areas I am going to be serving in.  I am also headed back to the Lac du Flambeau Reservation in Wisconsin the week after Christmas. We’ll be bringing shoebox ministry gifts to the children there at an “After Christmas Party” at the Lac du Flambeau Bible Baptist Church.

I appreciate all of your prayers and contributions.  God is so faithful through each one of you and I couldn’t do any of this without you!  I hope I’ll get the chance to visit with you while I am home for the winter.  God bless you all!

I Can Only Imagine…

Tomorrow I head out again.  As I was getting ready to go I realized I had not updated everyone on my last trip.

After I finished with my work at the Pine Ridge & Cheyenne River Indian Reservations in South Dakota I headed on to the Lac du Flambeau Indian Reservation in Wisconsin.  I had a wonderful visit with my friends there.  You may remember that I was there this past April/May and we worked on getting a children’s church started for the children on the rez.  At that time they did not have a pastor but I am proud to report that they do now…and he’s a Louisiana man!  His name is Bill Earl and he and his wife Bridget and their children are from Elizabeth, LA.  I can’t tell you how good it was to have a few more southern accents on the rez!  Bill and Bridget are a perfect fit for the Bible Baptist Church there at Lac du Flambeau.  The people there love them and we already see God doing wonderful things through them.

I am looking forward to returning to Lac du Flambeau in December to help distribute Christmas shoeboxes to the children there.  By the way, if you would like to help out with that ministry just give me a call.

Now most of you know me by now so you know that I took each chance I got to enjoy the scenery.  And boy was there some scenery to enjoy.  I’m a bit of a fanatic when it comes to Fall colors and the leaves were at their peak while I was there.  Heaven!!!

Every where I went there was gold…

And orange…

And all colors in between….

I think my favorite may be the trees that were just beginning to turn…they were a combination of lime green and yellow and their reflections were stunning.

Everywhere I drove was beautiful.  There was absolutely no escaping the beauty…

The beauty was there even when you looked up…

I took a walk down a trail one day and prayed.  I told God I couldn’t imagine heaven being any better than this.  But what’s so incredible is that it is better than this.  Mercy Me phrased it most accurately in their song; “I Can Only Imagine.”  I can only imagine how incredible heaven must be.  How beautiful. How breathtaking.  What I see on earth now is just a “foretaste of glory divine.”

I digress. 🙂  Instead of heading straight to Connecticut after leaving Wisconsin I came home instead.  I needed to raise some more funds and get some things in order before heading to Connecticut.  I decided that I was going to have to work a little harder at finding inexpensive places to stay while on these trips.  So…I got online and found three Christian Campgrounds in Tennessee, Virginia and Connecticut.  I contacted them about lodging and as a result my total cost for lodging on this trip is $30.00!  I’ll be staying at Camp Agape in Benton, TN my first night on the road.  They are a Southern Baptist Campground.  I’ll be staying the next two nights at Shenandoah Springs Campground near Shenandoah National Park in Virginia.  They are an inter-denominational campground but the pastor and his wife are Southern Baptist.  Then, in Connecticut, I will spend 9 nights at the Willimantic Christian Campground; owned by an inter-denominational Christian group.  God is good!

Now let me share with you a way that God provides when we least expect it.  I needed about $1,000.00 to pay my bills and make this trip.  I started out with $150.00 but I kept making my plans like I already had the money I needed.  I am leaving tomorrow and by yesterday I had received $990.00.  Again, God is good!  I also had a donation strictly intended for me to get AAA Auto Insurance in case I have problems while on the road.

I can’t begin to tell you how exciting it is to see these kind of things happen.  I’ll admit, I get a bit nervous at times but God always provides what I need, when I need it through people like you.  Thanks to you all!

I’ll head out in the morning and I’ll keep you all posted as often as I can while on the road.  In the meantime, please be in prayer for the contacts I make to work with the Mashantucket Pequot tribe in Connecticut.

 

Confused in Kansas…

I spent 8 more hours on the road today.  It was basically uneventful but there were two instances that caused me to pause and wonder and one instance that just sent me running!

The first instance was the one that sent me running.  It was a routine (or so I thought) stop at a gas station.  I had swiped my card, pressed “yes” for a receipt and then I saw them…yellow jackets!  They were flying around the trash can by the pump.  What in the world were yellow jackets doing at a gas station trash can???  Many of you know about my recent experience with my Uncle’s 37 stings and my one little one (that hurt BAD) and I did NOT want another one!  So…I pressed cancel and drove to another pump.

The first instance that made me say “hmmmm” was when I requested that my GPS lead me to the nearest Wal-Mart on my route.  When I arrived this is what I found…

Definitely NOT Wal-Mart!

Then, after I found the REAL Wal-Mart, I got back on the interstate where I happened to see this…

Now, I don’t know about you but to me that bares a striking resemblance to one of those nuclear blast mushroom clouds.  I didn’t stop but I put the window down and took this while I was driving….just in case it was the real deal.

I’m in a hotel in Nebraska tonight.  There’s been no news about a nuclear blast so I suppose all is well. 🙂  I am arriving at Pine Ridge tomorrow and I’ll probably hit the ground running so this may be it for a few days.  I’ll post the ministry details as soon as I have a chance.

God bless you all and thank you for your prayers!

7,891.8…

In my last entry I told you that I was picking my Mama up at the airport in Denver to enjoy a final week on the road in Colorado.  And enjoy it we did!  We saw some more of my beloved red rocks at the Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs…

Mama and I enjoyed the trails that led through these giant examples of God’s imagination.

We discovered every inch of this place and the only reason we left is because we had so little daylight left.

We visited the Manitou Springs Cliff Dwellings.

These dwellings were the home of the Anasazi Indians. The Anasazi lived and roamed the Four Corners area of the United States Southwest from 1200 B.C. to A.D. 1300.  It seems that the stones were taken from a collapsed Anasazi site near Cortez in southwest Colorado, shipped by railroad to Manitou Springs, and assembled in their present form.

Mama and I both decided that we would rather see the dwellings in this setting where it was easy to get to than to hike and climb to see the ones at Mesa Verda National Park!

We also spent a day at Rocky Mountain National Park. As my little Saturn faithfully climbed higher and higher we were overwhelmed at how majestic God’s creation really is.

And speaking of climbing heights…we also went to Pike’s Peak! That was the climb of a lifetime!  We could have taken the Cog Train up the mountain but I wanted to drive it.  So…we turned the A/C off, dropped it into a lower gear and headed on up to what felt like the top of the world!

The drive was scary!  Much of the road had no rails and sometimes it felt like I was going to drive off into the sky.  My knuckles were white from time to time and when we finally got to the top I had a mild case of altitude sickness.  Headache pressure, heart fluttering, shortness of breath and dizziness.  Mama was fine…You weren’t gonna catch me sitting that close to the edge!!

 

 

 

The drive down was much better.  I was able to pull over and enjoy some of the scenery…

I’m glad we went but I must say…I was also extremely pleased to come down to earth!

We also spent a day on the Peak to Peak Scenic Biway…a beautiful stretch of road between Estes Park and Colorado Springs.  We started with a stop at the Stanley Hotel, the hotel that was used as the setting for “The Shining”…a novel written by Stephen King.

Once on the road we stopped and enjoyed the COLD waters of a mountain creek.

We also took a wrong turn and wound up in a little town called Lyons.  We were glad we did though because we got to see this…

…another spot ripped right out of an old Glen Ford western. Red rocks, cactus, red dirt, sagebrush…you get the picture.

Back on the correct road we encountered more mountain grandeur…

…and we ended the day with this view…

After several days on the road and our souls satisfied with a taste of God’s country, we decided to head on home.  We arrived home…tired but satisfied.  I had a few minor things go wrong on the road but all in all I had been beyond blessed!

I  kept a running tab on my GPS of all the miles I was travelling and took this photo when I got home. Seven thousand eight hundred ninety-one point 8….that was the final tally on my GPS after 56 days on the road.  You can actually add about another 150 miles to that since I didn’t use my GPS during my time at the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota.  That’s a lot of miles…alot of time away from home.  And, if you’ll forgive my tendency to be melodramatic, it’s  a  number that has forever changed my life.

This number represents a two year period of prayer to make sure I was hearing God’s call and not my own desires.  It represents a leap of faith.  It is a number that speaks volumes about the people who believe in and support this ministry.  And above all else, it is a number that symbolizes God’s faithfulness.

Yes, I am home right now and even though I’m melting, I’m glad to be here…but my heart is still “out there.”  On the road. With those children. In a land with no humidity!

My next order of business is to work on my financial statements, visit with friends, speak in some new churches and plan my next mission.  My heart’s desire is to work with as many Native American tribes as possible.  The fields are ripe and the laborers are few…won’t you join me?

Call me un-American…

As most of you know I have been on the road for a while now.  I left home June 1 and have been to Oklahoma and Arkansas to visit friends and then on to South Dakota to do a children’s camp at Pine Ridge and most recently, to Montana to do another children’s camp at Ft. Belknap.

I have seen some beautiful sights along the way.  The tree covered Ozarks, the snow capped mountains of Glacier National Park and now, for the first time, I’ve been to Yellowstone National Park.

Yellowstone is another example of how much God loves variety.  There are mountain creeks and rivers…

…and thermal pools that emit a steam reminiscent of Louisiana summers.

There are snow capped mountains framing verdant valleys…

…and roadside “hotspots” consisting of crystal clear thermal waters.

 You also find an abundance of wildlife…bears (which I didn’t see), deer and buffalo (which I did see).

 There were geologic wonders as well…

The drive was beautiful and filled with wonder.  I’m not much for crowds and I knew that going during the summer months would mean that I would have to pull over to take pictures along with hundreds of other people…I was prepared for that.

However, what I was not prepared for was what I found when I got to that American Icon, “Old Faithful.”  I had already driven 51 miles at 20 mph stopping along the way to enjoy the sites.  I mean, you can’t go to Yellowstone without seeing “Old Faithful”…right?

Well, call me un-American, but I can!  When I arrived at this, America’s Geyser, I found a resort hotel, souvinere shops, restaurants, gas stations and even a car repair shop.  There were hundreds of cars and thousands of people.  It was so commercialized that it suddenly lost all of it’s appeal for me.  I just wanted out of there!  After about three attempts to find my way out, I was back on the road again.  I decided that seeing it in pictures was good enough for me.

I learned something about myself that day…I prefer simpler pleasures.  Like a mountain stream along a country backroad or even the small thermal pools that exist along the road at Yellowstone.  Those bring me pleasure.

So…don’t expect any pics of “Old Faithful” here.  Instead I hope you enjoy the things that brought me pleasure and I look forward to you joining me again on my next adventure…

I am so NOT in charge…

Bags are packed.  Car is loaded.  Groups are ready. Everything that could be done has been done!  So…why am I in a hotel room in Mitchell, SD and not at Pine Ridge?  Because I am so not in charge!

First I developed an infection while visiting friends in Arkansas.  One doctor’s visit and a trip to the pharmacy later, and I was armed with an antibiotic and on the road again.  My plans were to arrive at Pine Ridge the next day (yesterday) but my body had other plans.  Fighting a fever is not fun….I needed to rest and get completely well and that is why I am now sitting in a room at the Thunderbird Hotel in Mitchell, SD.

Ah, but there is more!  Right before I arrived in Mitchell I received a call from the leader of the group that is supposed to be meeting me at Pine Ridge.  It seems that a deadly virus called “hantavirus” has reared it’s ugly head on the reservation.  One seven year old child has died and another is infected.  This virus is shed through the urine, waste and saliva of rodents and becomes airborne on dust particles.  It killed many of the youth on a Navajo reservation in 1993.  After a phone call to the Shreveport CDC, we are now unsure of whether or not we are even going to Pine Ridge.  I’ve been advised not to go until I am completely well.

Why is all of this happening?  I have no idea.  And that’s okay because I don’t have to know.  When I signed on for this journey God never assured me that everything would go according to all my carefully laid plans.  I said, “Wherever He leads I’ll go” so now I’ll just wait and let Him lead.

In the meantime, I came across a great roadside attraction right outside of Mitchell.  It was called the “Porter Sculpture Park” and was named by “Time” magazine as one of the “Top 50 Roadside Attractions.” Amazingly enough, it was not something I had researched and planned to see.  It was just one of those fun surprises that come up sometimes.  Take a look…

These looked like something out of a Disney movie…

 I thought this one was quite interesting…

And this little sweetheart was there to welcome me…

As always, I was enchanted by the surrounding beauty of the area…

It was all a welcome distraction from everything that is going on.

I’ll find out tomorrow if we are going to Pine Ridge or not.  If not, then I look forward to seeing where God sends me instead.  If all goes as planned (HA!) I’ll have about two weeks before I have to be at Ft. Belknap Indian Reservation in Montana.  I’ll keep you posted…

It’s been a great few days on the rez…

Today we had three children show up for Sunday School here on the rez!  That may not sound like many to you but believe me, it’s a big deal.  The children also had a knowledge of Jesus and what He did on the cross and that was encouraging as well!

Wednesday night there were three of us that met for prayer meeting. We three discussed enough to make us all go home and continue seeking God for truth.  That’s the kind of Bible study I love…when everyone contributes and learns from each other.

Mr. Ed is still in the hospital but doing much better…the young lady who was beat up Wednesday is also better.  She is still pretty traumatized but that is starting to heal as well.

I made a trip to see my friend, Bernadine and her family on the Menominee reservation.  Bernie is a believer on a reservation with very few believers but she doesn’t let that stop her.  She’s got a love for the Lord and is teaching her niece and nephews about Jesus and the Word.  I’m so proud of how determined she is to follow through!  During our visit we took a trip to the cemetery (yep, another one!) to visit her mother’s grave.  I got this shot of Bernie with her niece Evian and her nephews Jarel and Jayquan while there.

The last few days have been beautiful so I took a quick trip to Madeline Island. There were very few people there since summer hasn’t arrived but I like it that way.  It was just me and beautiful Lake Superior.

I came upon an old church and…..another cemetery while on the island.

Right before I left to catch the ferry back to the mainland, I came upon this incredible wooded area.  It looked to me as if they were the woods straight from a fairy tale… Hey, your imagination runs wild when you are all alone on a practically deserted island!

Then, on the way home, I discovered this crazy collectibles shop. It was closed but all I wanted were some good photos! Here’s one of them…

Finally, I made a mad dash home so that I could capture the sun setting on Lac du Flambeau.  I wasn’t disappointed.

Here’s another look…

Then, as I was about to walk away, this caught my eye.  Dare I say…smoke signals?  You decide!

 So, all in all it has been a great week!!!  I can’t wait to see what next week has in store for us here on the rez.

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