Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Battle Wounds for the Non-biker on the trip

Greetings from Anson, Texas!

It has been a good couple of days, including a visit with the Rotary Club in Post, Texas yesterday.

Today we took part in a very southern worship service (complete with a fiddle!), and were warmly and gernously welcomed. After the service, as we were carrying things in, I was wheeling bikes in to the church to rest there for the night. As it got dark, I decided to carry them because I could not see what I was wheeling them over in the grass (and road bikes are pretty light).

Unfortunately, I didn't realize there was a pump under the frame, and when it slipped and fell, I did my best to catch it. I caught the chain ring on my leg, picked up the bike and walked inside. I felt terrible about the bike, but I was certain it was fine. I walked inside and David (it was his bike) put the pump back on, and then noticed my leg. "Is your leg bleeding?" he asked, with blood running down it. Hmmm. I didn't think it hurt THAT much! SO I went into the bathroom to clean it up - and it was REALLY bleeding! Running down my leg, it took a while of sitting there with pressure on it for it to stop enough to even walk without worrying about getting it on the carpet (it was coming out quick!)

I made my way to the house we're staying in and on my way in asked Criselda to grab the first aid kit. Skipping details, I soon had quite a crowd checking it out and making sure I was ok - and I had to warn them not to look of they were easily queasy! Thanks to Criselda's assistance and Mike's expertise (he's a nurse!), we realized I even had a shard of metal stuck in the deep wound. Fortunately (maybe?) it was hurting enough that it was still kind of numb, so I used that opportunity to scrub it out and clean it before I could feel it more. I also sanitized my tweezers and did a little mini-surgery to get the metal shard out of my leg. It was a quick, easy success!!

Scrubbing all of the grease out wasn't as easy, but I think we got most of it. Its got a good bandage on it, but its bleeding through, so I need to change it before I go to bed.

A bit of pain, but I'm fine. It could have been worse! ha, I actually think its funny, and feel SO bad about it! After all, the one thing I have failed to mention is that my biggest concern throughout (Criselda kept getting after me to stop worrying about it) was David's bike. He said its ok, just needs the bearings adjusted. I dunno. I hope its actually ok. Whatever it is, I'll pay to fix it up. But seriously... my leg will heal fine (and hopefully I'll have a great battle scar, haha). I just hope the bike is ok too.

As I re-wrap it for bed, I can see that it is already healing really well. I couldn't get a very clear, detailed picture that shows how deep it is, etc now that the bleeding has slowed and begun to dry up, but you can see the perfect marks of the chain ring! ha. Anyway, if you're squeamish, you should have stopped reading by now...

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Ride:Well Update

I didn't know what else to write except THANK YOU for the many who are supporting our tour, so this is what I posted on the Ride:Well site. I thought it only appropriate to post it here as well.

It is late and I should have been in bed an hour ago, but while I have internet access I wanted to give a quick update.

Every day, this trip keeps getting better. The team is growing closer together, we are finding ways to be more efficient and let things run more smoothly, there is increasing humor in every story, and we now have a plethora of inside jokes to share. Life on the road is good.

Today we crossed into the great (nation) state of Texas. On the weather channel tonight we took a look at a US map. It is one thing to make a mental note of how far we've been. It is something entirely different to look at a map and see how far we've been. In case you've forgotten today, this team of cyclers are AMAZING, and have accomplished SO much!

Every day I am surrounded by opportunities to laugh, reflect on what we're doing, build relationships, and most of all, be INSPIRED. Inspired by our team, but the amazing hospitality and Christian love we have been shown, by the strangers we meet along the way who want to know more, give money, or get involved.

Every day, I am reminded that I didn't come on this journey because of any reason other than I felt like it was where I was being called to be for the summer. And every day, in good times and bad (which have fortunately been seldom), I know that it was right, and this is good. God is Good. God is among us. and God is shinning through the riders, strangers, and communities that surround me. and I am thankful.

For those of you who are reading and updating more regularly than I, thank you. Your support is greatly appreciated!!! I hope we are able to meet out on the road over the next 5 weeks...

Monday, June 23, 2008

Ride:Well Tour Week 1

Greg has been diligently filming the events of our trip, and has finished editing a short video from our first week. Check it out for a quick idea of what our first week was like - from awkward introductions to supporting each other in the mountains!!

The Ride:Well Band

Gregg Mwendwa is our African Rider (from Kenya), and he is HILARIOUS and creative! He's posting TONS of blogs over on our ride:well site, so if you haven't been there yet, check it out!

This is one of his latest creations. He didn't use the whole team, but most of us are here... with name changes and all, of course. I thought it was hilarious and creative, so he has given me permission to re-post it. You can find the original post here. Enjoy!

Disclaimer - Restarting the heart is usually not so hard and to avoid it, this is a work of fiction, any resemblance between the characters herein and real persons living or otherwise is purely coincidental.

This is the hidden side of the ridewell SHOW. When Aaron Smith was packaging this cast, little did he know that he had brought together a bunch of crazies who ride 85 miles to Roswell and drive at 45mph for 135 miles to go and sleep in Alamogordo, NM. They almost ate dinner at sunrise. The cast has shifted expectations, and everyone is worried that soon, all members may be evicted to go and chase solo career in music. The ridewell band was more like a joke in the beginning, but things got serious when Matt J. Williams was evicted because his fine bult muscles could nto help him to hold his breath for long while singing higher notes. However, I am sadden by this turn of events because he was better than Erin, who originally was considered a lead singer yet what she produces are simple croaks that cannot be considered musical at any rate (how she manages to stick in the band is simply a mystery, I guess people are afraid of her face – its has this sign “hot tears can under pressure”) but she has been given a new role anyway.

Van Boozie is the lead singer, having been voted enmasse from his album “Rhode Island” which got him a Grammy nomination (he turned down the offer on the excuse that he wanted to ride a bike across America). So far, it is not clear why the band doesn’t have an album out yet, some members of the band argue that he is only good at applying some funny cream on his noose, and stuffs some in the nostrils (it may be cream tobacco, we don’t know)

Grandpa Arrow, is the emcee. He equates to guys like Mc. Hammer and MC LARS. In his own unique way, comfortably rested on a swivel stool (he feels good not that he became a grandpa on fathers day), he calls for action and mass action. Never underestimate this guy, his energy or riding 50mph translates to a rare ability to address a 300 capacity hall without a microphone.

Dorn, ok. This guy has forced his was to the band, but he is retained because of his ability to make comic faces. He has 16 sets of glasses, some which are literally “shady”. But he is a guy to be with, he has send application to be teh bands clown.

Jean on the drums. Her strong built makes the drums weep, and insurance fees for the group equipment has been increased because of the weeping and wailing. We really don’t understand what happens to the van she drives across the desert.

Bangles is this absent minded man on the controls. It has been noticed that he likes it booming, and the band has already received a ticket from the sheriff because he boomed a “car racing” sound effects during a concert which convinced sheriff it was an over speeding truck. Sheriff has not been convinced otherwise, so the band has to pay the ticket.

Earring is the communications manager. She keeps in touch with the outside worlds and inside world as well. She has an assembly of phones with unlimited minutes. She is a busy girl, at times she has to shout, “Hold on, I gotta go pee”. She has offered to sing accapela during the concert at Dallas.

Mint was to be a stage manager, but as things have turned out, she may have to relocate or get evicted. When she auditioned for this role, she brought a dozen photos of her previous works. But this doesn’t seem to be working at all, she has issues arranging the equipment, see where she placed the guitar box!

Merge is the bartender. Her art of mixing cocktails in unmatched so far. She has this website ( where thirsty people can log on, search, vote and browse for drinks and cocktails, fortunately, this website also includes a bartender guide and cocktail forums. To this end, she may be the next World Bank – this lady makes enough money to email cocktails.

Jojo adores Tina Turner and consequently she is the messy bass guitarist. Well, it has not been well established what is the reason for her hype, but sources near her home city say that she has a litany of nephews and everywhere they go, she goes. Though she plays really well during practice sessions, the band has a couple times been caught off guard on stage when she broke the guitar wires. The doctor has recommended that she receives a dose of valium before performing.

Chiselda is still in charge of PR. She has had a couple encounters with the force of gravity, but she has not lost hope of regaining seating ability. Her status on facebook reads “asking prayers for her bum”, and truly she needs them. As you can see, her modeling agency sent her skirts to make the condition manageable.

We are waiting for the release of the first single – the ride well song.

The ridewell song©

With hearts full of love
From the pacific
Atlantic we will be
The days are weary
But the night is fairy
For Africa and America
We will…yes we will!
Rejoice – hallelujah

Every evening, the whole of me hurts
Every morning, its still another ride
The desert is hot, I get breathless
Am giving up every time I crank
Thousand miles from my comfort
I feel like I wanna go home…

You have called me to compassion
To surrender to you my character
To have courage and be selfless
To share in your suffering
I am a testament, of your faith

As the days get weary
Lord sent me comfort
When am giving up
Lord rescue me
When its frightening
Lord give me courage
We pray, we believe
Your will to be done

And when its comes to pass
May we know you
Share with the world
The power of your resurrection
May your light shine upon us
As we discover our soul
May we light up the world

Copyright – ridewell® records, 2008. No part or copy of this song may be produced, reproduced or distributed without prior permission from the mysterious “author”.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

A Good Day in New Mexico

Today has been a long, but great, day.

As I stated before, everyone seems to be in better spirits today, myself included. For me, its been no one thing that has helped the switch, but rather a combination of the small things. Sleep has certainly helped. Its also been good to have Dave’s guitar pulled out a couple of times in the past couple of days – more by Greg than anyone else, but it doesn’t really matter who is playing. I can’t explain it, but something about the sound and feeling of someone near me playing acoustic guitar warms my soul. It is in moments like that in which I feel closest to God. Even when the songs are about Show Low or Tires and Wires. Music is worshipful in itself… just something about the joy that comes with making a joyful noise, I guess.

We shared a lot of laughs in the van today. For example, there was construction on the highway, so traffic was being allowed only one way at a time. As we waited, the bike team pulled up front and we waited behind. A woman in the front car was talking to them and got out to take pictures. So I grabbed some brochures, ran up to meet her (they were 3-4 cars up), and passed one off to her (everyone laughing) as I went to take pictures. I had a nice (though brief) chat with the construction worker holding the stop sign. I told him about our mission, he told me Gregg had passed through 15 minutes earlier, and after I gave him a brochure and snapped a picture, and ran back to get into the van.

It was a busy day but after going through Arizona, temperatures in the mid-90s that come with hot sun and a cool breeze seem amazing. We know we've been on the road too long when it is "only" 95 outside!

As the day neared the end, it was also good to catch up with Matthew briefly via telephone. It is amazing how one person leaving our close-knit team can make such a huge difference. We missed him a lot today (our first full day without him), and are continuing to pray for him and for his dad. I hope you can join us in that as well. Please know that when I did talk to him, though, he was in great spirits and still left plenty of room for making fun of Methodists (long story, ongoing joke). We stayed in a GREAT United Methodist host church last night... so I just needed to make sure he knew on all the wonderfulness he missed out on. :)

Pie For Breakfast

We are off to a great start this morning.

Last night we stayed at the Baptist Church of the gigantuan town of Quemado, New Mexico: Population 300 (give or take, I actually don’t have any idea… but it was a small town!). It is so big and high-tech that their only gas station in town had to stop selling gas because their old pumps can’t register $4.00. Gas, groceries, and all basic things one might need can all be found in Springerville, which is “only” 50 miles away.

This church, once again, was beyond amazing and offered remarkable hospitality and generosity. They were SO ready for us, too! As we arrived they were waiting with a brigade of vehicles to take us to the school a few blocks away, where locker rooms were opened to us for some of the most amazing and powerful showers ever. Then we returned to the church where a homemade feast was waiting for us. AWESOME.

As we left this morning, the pastor, who is also the fire chief, escorted us out of town with the fire truck and flashing lights to be sure we made it safely over a dangerous (huge!) hill where a biker was killed a couple years ago.

It is now 9:50am and we are just leaving Pie Town, New Mexico. We made a stop for a second breakfast of pie at Pie Towns Daily Pie CafĂ© – “Great Cooking on The Great Divide.” The home of the only real pie chart – a pie chart of the pies they have in stock. The stop brought us the best variety of pies ever – including an apple pie with green chilies and beans in it. It was crazy… and not as terrible as I thought it sounded.

After a quick stop at the Great Divide for pictures, we are well on our way. For taking an hour long break for pie, we are 30 miles into our 110 mile day. The weather is gorgeous, the sun is shinning (but not too hot yet), and Gregg Mwendwa is leading the pack! Clearly, taking a rest the past couple of days (sleeping in the van!) has been good for him, and it is good to see his rested legs working so hard this morning.

The team is in better spirits today, too. I think it helps that we had a great night of rest last night, followed by encouraging words that nearly all of the ride today is going downhill. This is much needed after having spend the last 3 days climbing up the mountains… we knew we’d have to come down eventually, but it sure feels great for the day to have finally arrived!

After today, we will have completed a quarter of our ride. That is so exciting!!! It is also really sad as we realize how quickly time is passing by. It is so hard to believe we met for the first time only two weeks ago today. It feels like we have been together for a couple months (in a good way).

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

A Good Day

The team is going SO strong today! It is mountainous and intense, but they are working through exhaustion and working it out. Awesome!

We had a great stop at McDonalds’ picnic tables for lunch, and met some great folks from all over. Folks their in Springerville were incredibly supportive and interested in the Ride:Well Tour. We handed out tons of brochures, and I got the best reaction yet (I wish you could have seen/heard it!) from a woman in disbelief of how far we were going. It was great.

The only down part of the day has been the elevation. We have climbed our way up to 7,000 feet, and the elevation has hit Mike and made him sick. He had to get in the van (in many ways against his will) to get some better air, and we hope he feels better soon so he can ride in the morning.

Prayer Request for the Team and Beyond

Today is a sad day as we leave Show Low, Arizona.

We received news yesterday that one of our teammates, Matthew, is going to have to part with us. He is going home to spend much needed time with family during some difficult times, and while we fully support his decision and would have it no other way, it is difficult to see him go. He will still be with us in many ways, though, and we know that as we pray for him and his family (I hope you will too), we know that we too will be in his thoughts and prayers. It would take more than distance or struggle to tear our team apart… so we will be thankful for cell phones that work even in valleys.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

A Song For You

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Payson (dorms), to Show Low (church)

Most of the day today, I have had a song stuck in my head. What song, you ask? One written by two of our team members, Dave and Bargo. It isn’t the same as hearing it, but let me share the words with you:

Tires and Wires
…Don’t Mix
When your Tires Hit Wires,
…You Must Fix
Jessica Blockers
Tires Hit Wires
Now She’s a Crier
And we’re all Goodbyers
Cuz We gotta get Going
Down the Road (x2)
Down the Road, Road, Road!

I’ve been in a rut today. I think my extrovert has been on overdrive, and I am really needing to have some quality alone time. What really sounds good is community worship with our team, as we haven’t really had an opportunity to do so. Everything about this trip has been fantastic, through our shared struggles and joys and the huge obstacles we have already overcome. It has also been really busy, and incredibly exhausting. My prayer today is that as I work to re-focus on what we’re doing, how and why, I am also able to adjust my priorities and make sure that even though we’re running on so little sleep, my spiritual life is suffering when I take the free time I do have to sleep. Getting up a bit earlier or sacrificing a precious 30 minutes of sleep before bed in the evening will be worth every minute of devotional time. It will serve as the energizer I really need both for the present and in my faith journey that continues to stretch and challenge me.

Always An Adventure

We left Phoenix (well, Scottsdale) yesterday morning for a 90 mile ride to Payson. From this point onward, Mondays shall be known as “Mountain Monday.”

Our adventure began in Scottsdale, where we stayed with one of the team member’s friends, Andrew and John. In short, they were crazy. And it was awesome. Andrew and John are roommates with a sweet 3-bedroom apartment that was cleaner than any guys’ apartment I have ever seen. They opened up their pad to us, complete with enough blow up mattresses to cover the floors. (By this point, though, we’re so used to sleeping on the floor that most of us didn’t use them.) These guys were awesome hosts, complete with sacrificing their own sleep so we would have a place, as when we went to bed, they left so it would be quiet. Then they were back before I got up, apparently having gotten no sleep. They made a great breakfast inclusive of protein shakes, energy foods, and electrolyte water. It was AMAZING. They were SO generous and thought of everything (in terms of food and such… and then gave all the leftovers with us to take for later!).

It was a good day… as Streaker (our van) was finally to get clothed. Drew & a couple others who were not able to ride for various reasons took the van to Tempe to get her wrap put on. Meanwhile, Criselda and I borrowed her sister Melissa’s truck (THANK YOU!!!) to offer support to the riders as they made their way through the White Mountains. It was INTENSE – complete with a 5,000 foot climb, and no shoulder most of the way.

Big events of the ride: it was HOT and there were NO places for shade along the road. In the truck, Criselda and I may have been having too much fun, as at one stop we were waiting so long between groups that between having the flashers on and letting the radio play for about 5 minutes (Backstreet Boys and Spice Girls, mind you), the battery died. We were laughing so hard at/with our music selections, that the truck not starting was taken in great stride. We were grateful for the wonderful patrolman who stopped to check on us and offered us a jump start. We chatted for a bit and told him what we were doing. He told us what we were doing was “admirable” and continued on his way. All before the next riders arrived. Excellent.

I have never found rocks to be as comfortable as I did that afternoon when we went a bit off road to find shade and take a nap. It was a long break, but worth it. Although I was confused when I woke up, “what is this in my back? Oh, a rock. A bed of rocks, actually.” Sweet.

When we finally made it to our accommodations, got the team there securely, and filled up on gas, we left town about sunset (8pm). Oh…. And I forgot to say. This was such a long, rigorous day that Criselda struggled with it even as a driver. So we had to swap just before lunch. Therefore, none of the riders who struggled with it should feel bad.

Our drive back to Phoenix to return the truck and get the newly wrapped van was beautiful, uneventful, and a bit tiring. We had been up before sunrise, and arrived in Phoenix just after 10pm. As we got there, we were excited to discover that the trailer had a flat, and all of the tire shops were closed. So… after some incredible dedication and hard work, the guys, including Criselda’s Dad, brother, and neighbor, got it fixed up enough to drive back. It was a bit of a drive back (after a stop at IN-N-OUT, of course!), so we were ready to fall into our beds just after 2am. Even better was the news that we were going to allow for rest and not leave until 8am the next day… so by the time I got to sleep, etc, I got just over 4 hours of sleep! Yea!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

A Day of Rest

Sunday, June 15

As yesterday was a long day, I was dirty and exhausted when we finally arrived in the Phoenix area. However, before I was even situated and before the final crew of bikers arrived, my 2 Great Aunts and Great Uncle (Glennyce, Arlys, and Dave) arrived to pick me up. I went with them (yes, still covered in dust and dirt from the desert) to dinner at a Mexican Restaurant where my cousin works. She was just getting off, so as we passed I got to meet Tina for about 2 minutes for the first time. It is good, yet kind of weird, to see family in this area.

I stayed with Glennyce for the night in a big, soft, amazing bed. Her house was beautiful, her dogs friendly, and her presence amazing! It was so brief, yet it was great to see her and be able to take the little time I did have to talk to her. It was also great that Callie (my cousin I’d only met twice before, but who is also my age) came over with her baby. It was great to see them.

Around 12:30, Glennyce dropped me off at the Diamondbacks field. Don got our team free tickets to the game – and they were awesome! Box seats with our own private bathroom, even! They lost (against Kansas City), but it was still fun!!

After the game, we went to Criselda’s house, where we learned that her parents are seriously as awesome as they sounded when she spoke of them. They had a plethora of food and lounge space, complete with computers set up if folks wanted to check their email. It was great to have scheduled time to just lay back and relax. I called Brian, who is living in Phoenix for the summer, and even he came over and chilled with us for a bit. It was really nice to hang out, chat, get to voice some of my struggles thus far with someone who is coming from a different perspective. It is always good to see friends, and it was fantastic to be able to hang out outside of MoSAIC activities, which seem to be the only other times we have spent together (not that that’s all bad, of course).

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Journeying Beyond "Hope"

Today we journeyed beyond Hope. (The sign leaving Hope, Arizona says “Your Now Beyond Hope” – yes, that is their typo, not mine, lol.)

Last night we camped in Hope, Arizona – a town of about 20 people that allowed for yet another great cross-cultural experience for Gregg.

It was REALLY hot out there. Even the breeze we initially hoped for we regretted as it felt like a hot hair dryer blowing past us. The amount of water that was necessarily consumed was obnoxious – I wasn’t even biking (though the van is hot too!) and I probably drank a couple gallons throughout the day. We took a break, then, in the middle of the day to cool off in a park in Wickenburg. Next to the park was a pool, which many of the team got in to cool off. By many of the team, I must include myself… though my initial intention was just to put my feet in. My great trust in Jesse meant I didn’t even resist when he threatened to pull me in. As I thought he was kidding, he thought I’d resist, and the combination of these things resulted in my falling in and being asked by a lifeguard to get out of the pool because they don’t allow folks to wear “that kind of shirt” in the pool. (Please note: I was wearing a gray cotton t-shirt, haha).

Much of the team was shuttled ahead to Phoenix to take care of bike repairs, etc before the shops closed. That left Matthew (who is out for a couple of days b/c of his knees) and I to follow up as the support team. We had a great time in the van. Between our random music selections, our misguided directions, and our great ability to disagree and have fun doing it, it was fantastic. I love that there is someone on the team I can have that kind of relationship with… the kind of relationship that allows us to push each other and disagree (or play devils advocate even when we don’t just for the sake of learning and growth). It was awesome… and though I are tired at the end of the long day, I’m glad we got to spend the time together.

Today made me think about how much I am missing by not being out on the road with the bikers. I would never wish for anything to happen to the bikers to keep them from being able to ride, but it sure has been nice to have that time to get to know the folks who have spent time in the van. It also feels great to be a week in and still think (know) that everyone on the team is awesome. Its crazy it has only been one week… and I’m glad we have 6 to go!

Friday, June 13, 2008

A New Kind of Hope

Today it was REALLY hot. Ridiculously so, really. We had to stop a lot to get folks water. We are all exhausted from being on the go so much, getting so little sleep (and not always a good sleep). For me, lack of exercise (I’m often moving around and doing lots, but its different) and poor diet (we’re eating an athlete’s diet) are also contributing to being tired.

Everyone was so exhausted and overheated that when we stopped for lunch, that we decided not to push on for the day. Our plans were to camp for the night about 12 miles down the road, but there was a nicer camp ground across from the gas station we stopped at to have lunch. So we stuck around and enjoyed a lovely evening under the stars… and I slept better there in the dessert in a tent with screen tops so I could see the stars that I have on the entire trip. It was a beautiful, restful gift from God. So much so that getting up at 3:30 the next morning so we could be packed up and ready to go by the time the sun rose didn’t even seem so bad.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

One Last Post for the Day

You should be following Don's blog if you want to hear about the Ride:Well Tour. Or, you can look for everyone's entries as they're updated on the Ride:Well Network homepage.

I think the person who is blogging the most out of our group is Don. So if you want updates throughout the trip, check out his blog. No surprise he's a better writer than I (haha), and his entries tend to be more concise. Just remember to have a sense of humor for some of the entries, lol.

You can read his blog on his website here.

A picture for you. Just One.

My own computer decided to connect to the internet, so I thought I'd post pictures. Then I realized I don't really have many of me! ha, oh well. Sunday was a great day... I have a few from there.

Mindy, Don, Jessica and Matthew (took the picture) went up to the observatory on Sunday before church... it was BEAUTIFUL! I got a few good shots of the others... and this is the only one I'm in. You can kind of see the (smoggy but beautiful) view of LA behind us.
Later on Sunday I climbed an AWESOME tree that is the 2nd oldest of its kind in the US. Its the tree that inspired Disney's treehouse - I was glad I didn't wear flip-flops :)

eh, well... I was trying to upload 1-a picture of the gigantuous tree, and 2- a picture of me in it, but the internet here is slow and its taking forever. So I guess one picture will have to do for tonight. I'll get on taking more of me in the future. :)

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Day 3 and all is "WELL"!

Just a quick update on today.

Jesse Bri and Drew didn't get back from picking up the van until 3am, so they were exhausted and took the morning off. Criselda, who "broke her butt" yesterday was sick from her pain meds, so it was a quiet van of 5 people! I drove & got lunch & headed out to support the team.

They were off just after 7... and did GREAT. Everyone was in by 4pm, and I am happy to report an uneventful day.

We are beginning a presentation and having a dinner in a few minutes at the church here in 29Palms, so I must be short. But know that all is well, including no accidents today (well, no injuries). I hope this is a tell of how the rest of the summer will go!!

It is HOT here in the dessert, and I am doing my best to not get sunburned. So far, so good... but I sure have a nice tan, despite the amount of sunblock we're using!!!

...Hopefully more reflections to come soon...

Catching Up

I was looking for an adventure this summer - and I am certainly getting it!!!

My last post stated that our van had broken down. The good news is this: it was NOT the transmission (as we initially thought), but rather a couple leaks we were able to get patched up with the help of some amazing and kind folks who stepped forward just when we needed them. It could not have worked out much better, really... and we now have the van back and were able to use it to offer support to our 14 riders as they made an 80-mile ride today from Apple Valley, CA to Twentynine Palms, CA.

Much has happened in between then and now.

Yesterday when we were van-less, I planned to spend the day doing some odds and ends while I waited for our rental vehicle to come pick me up at our hotel. As the bikers were warming up for their ride, one stepped down to get off her bike and her foot slipped under her. She fell pretty hard... and could hardly move. So the team left without her and I got her to a doctor. Unfortunately, it looks like she won't be able to ride the rest of the trip... she has fractured her tailbone. ugh. Poor Criselda is having a rough go... her pain pills made her sick today, which was quite miserable as she had to sit in a hot van in the desert as we made our way to support the team. I have to say, though, I am absolutely blown away by her optimism and laid-back reaction to it all. She is even going to stick it out- and I welcome her presence with me (us) in the van.

There was also a decent wipe-out on the road yesterday with another rider. She's sore and has a pulled groin (ouch!), but is going to be okay. thankfully. She wiped out on a busy highway, at probably the only time all day there weren't cars there that would have hit her.

When we arrived in Apple Valley, we were absolutely blessed by Apple Vally Baptist Church that took care of us. We parked our bikes there, then went to the pastor's house where we were hosted with an amazing grill-out - great food and fellowship! It was nice for the "event" to be so laid back and overwhelmingly friendly! In talking to Mindy about Phoenix, I mentioned I am excited to get together with a friend who lives there (Brian), and when she asked I told her I knew him from an organization called MoSAIC. She was definitely interested to hear not about the organization, but about how I as a Christian can support my theology as a part of such an organization. She didn't push - I didn't either - and we kept it low-key and conversational (NOT a debate) as to not stir up controversy in this room in which I am pretty sure I am the only one who stands in affirmation of such inclusion in the church (avoiding conflict out of respect, not because I am afraid to let others know what I believe). She received it openly and curiously, and I look forward (!?!?) to furthering the conversation later, when we don't have to 'whisper'.

From there, we split up into host homes. I went with 3 other girls to stay with Bunnie, a wonderful older woman (and her husband/mother) who opened her house to us to give us a cool, clean, wonderful place to stay. We were so grateful for things like showers... and she made the rooms up all nice, even putting chocolate mints on our pillows! She was fantastic. I do wish we had had more of a chance to chat with her, but it was nice to just relax. We (Mindy, Blocker, and Margie were also all staying there) sat around for a little while and chatted... it was great to have that time with no agenda but just to talk about our thoughts and experiences and impressions, etc thus far.

Hospitality we have received thus far has been amazing, and I hope everyone knows how much we appreciate it!

First Ride

June 8 12:24am - although I am posting this late, this is the original date it was written on.

Today was another great day.

The team did their first ride together today. Starting at Santa Monica Pier, we ceremoniously took team (and individual) pictures with bikes on the beach… with the back tires all but in the water! It was the first of many tests of endurance as bikes were carried over the sand to the waterfront. This was a mock picture of sorts that we will show later as the start to the ride… even though the ride doesn’t officially begin until Monday. In all fairness, they did ride down… so all the same if they begin from a mile away, right?

While they rode, Drew and I packed up lunch and made our way down to meet them. After a quick lunch we went to pick up the van out in Orange, which was quite an adventure in itself. Long story short… the van still doesn’t have the wrap on it, so we packed them up and hopefully get someone to do it next week in Phoenix. I’m sad to go the whole first week without it, but glad to have our van back for now.

I finally got some sun today… but the red is already turning tan, so I’m hoping by morning it will be a nice tan. I’m excited for that.

Dinner was great at Santa Monica Pier tonight… complete with a ride on the Ferris wheel with Criselda, Mindy and Drew. Jen met us out there too, and it was great to finally meet up with her!

As a team, we are finally getting to know each other… and everything is going great. We really do have some fantastic folks on the trip, and I can’t wait to get to know them more and hear their stories of what brought them together to be a part of this trip. The best part is by far that everyone has a GREAT sense of humor... and no one ever misses a beat on an opportunity to make a joke of anything. It’s great. I think we’ll be great friends.

Tomorrow is going to be a long, busy day. We’re breaking up into 2 groups in the morning to go to 2 different churches. The big group is going to church with the wonderful folks who have been hosting us here, and 5 of us are going with Don to a church we’ve been invited to through a friend of his. They have invited us to come and speak to them about what we’re doing and pray over us. Any time anyone asks to pray for us, we can’t say no! So we’ll be heading to that church in Hollywood in the morning… a bit early so we can share a meal together, see some sites (maybe?) and actually have a chance to chat with his friend and each other.

Lots of things coming tomorrow, and they will keep us busy to be sure. I look forward to them with anticipation, and will try to keep you updated as our exciting events continue to unfold.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Broken in the Mountains

Today has been a BUSY day, to say the least!

I was up before 5am to pack up from Santa Monica and get the team on the road. They were off by 6:30, and shortly thereafter Drew and I had the church cleaned up and headed out as well. After a quick stop at the grocery store for lunch, we too were off and following the team to back them up with extra water, gatorade and food. Yes, I even had the chance to drive/pull our 15-passenger van with an 8-foot trailer through the mountains. God bless our bikers... that was one heck of a climb through mountains!!!!

Adventure ensued around lunch time. We unpacked lunch and I stuck around while Drew went to check on the folks in back of the pack. Then they came... and he never did!!! Details are still unfolding as to how this is going to work out... but here's the long story in short.

Drew did eventually return 2 hours later. He had caught a ride back to where the group was - the van broke down! On day 1! ugh. Red fluids, oh joy! ha. I'm actually not stressed about it at all, but we are having issues getting it towed to where we need it. It will sort out, and I am confident we'll have a working vehicle so that we (Drew and I, the drivers) can move on tomorrow too!! In the interim, extra prayers and support are welcome and needed!!!

Looking forward to diving into details of this adventurea later. I also have other blogs I've written on my computer but haven't had a chance to post yet... so look for that later.

Peace, friends! Thanks for your prayers!

Friday, June 6, 2008

Gathering In

Its Friday evening, and I feel like I've already been here in Santa Monica for a week (or two!). I cannot sum up here in the small amount of time I have all that I have experienced. Moreso, my mind has been going, working overtime with so many things to process and so little time (and space) to do so. I know being vague isn't helpful, but what I can say is this is definitely going to be an adventure. All but one person on our team has arrived, and we all bring with us different experiences, backgrounds, passions, theologies and desires to learn and grow in new ways.

I am looking forward to this trip with great anticipation and anxiety. I have found that quite unlike most situations I've found myself in before, I am quite outside of my comfort zone here. A number of circumstances certainly contribute to that. The first and screaming obvious one is that I am the only member of the team who is not doing any biking. Even the other support drivers brought bikes and are playing multiple roles: one filming (with hopes to make a documentary) and the other is working closely with Venture, and has been setting up the places we'll be staying in- he's done lots of biking in the past, so brought his along in hopes of an occasional day ride. And I'm driving. Which is great, and surely there will be more than enough to keep me busy!

We have a busy weekend ahead, including the ceremonious start of our ride tomorrow with team pictures down at Santa Monica Pier (about 10 blocks from where we're staying). Then after a short (about 50 miles) ride, we'll clean up and the church is treating us to dinner and "free time" at the Pier. They have been so amazing, so gracious, and so amazing... it has really been a blessing!

I hope to write more later, but someone else is waiting to use the computer, so I must go for now. I will do my best to keep you posted, and from the sounds of it, that will be frequent.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Departing for Ride:Well Tour

Well... I was hoping to have more time to write, but alas the morning has gotten away from me and it is time to depart!

I am leaving in about 2 minutes for the airport... flying to LA and beginning staff training for the Ride:Well Bike Tour!!! (You can still donate to the right!!!) I can't wait! Lots of adventures to come in the next 8 weeks, to be sure. My plan is to blog often to keep you all updated. Granted, I am uncertain how often I will find internet, so look for post-dated entries, and I'll do my best to update as often as possible!

Peace and Blessings!!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Saying Goodbye

I'm taking a break from the monotony of packing on this fine, late night.

Today was a great day. I did not get nearly as much done as I had hoped, but it was great to get out and walk to enjoy the lovely summer weather that has decided to come out for a bit. On my walk, I went past a hair salon. I thought it might be nice to get a trim before I leave in a couple of days... so I back-tracked and went in.

The result? I took a bit more than expected, and 7 inches came off!! Well... I think it was more like 5, but the stylist said it was 7 total. (It still isn't short... but goodbye long hair! I think its been since high school since I cut this much off). Who knows... I didn't think my hair was that long before? Doesn't really matter, I suppose! Anyway... here is a pic of the new 'do.

After my hair-cutting adventure, I headed into the city, where I gathered with my (Holy Covenant) Field Education site committee to have my farewell gathering. A bit late, indeed, but we decided it best to wait until Kristin returned from her journey to Mexico so she could join us. I am so glad we did!

It was a lovely evening with folks I am glad to have had the opportunity to get to know this year. It has been a great group, and I hope to keep in touch with many of them. It is their honesty, ability to critique with love and support, and their unending support that have helped me to do so well this year. I have appreciated our time together... and of course the fact that they never made me cry has helped too (haha, Kristin!). While we have met monthly, tonight was actually the first night we were able to gather with all 8 of us at the same time. I am glad this was able to happen once before I parted, and a great night it was for it!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Visiting a New Church

It was a strange but wonderful experience to go to a different church this morning. I had a failed attempt last night at trying to find someone to go with me to a new church this morning, so I got up and made the trek anyway. I am glad I did.

Until today, I forgot that I used to only ever go to church by myself. It was not until I reached seminary that I ever had a consistent group of folks to worship with. Even when I worshiped in the same congregations (plural, as I was a part of several, depending on the day of the week!), there was not enough consistency in attendance of others for me to have accountability.

Today I went to a new church by myself. I sat by myself in worship. I was anonymous and had no responsibility. I was there only because I wanted to be, and I was there to be led and fed rather than to lead. It was amazing and beautiful and wonderful. It was a great reminder of the path I have taken to bring me to here today. I do not go to church because it is a job or even because it is a responsibility. I go to the church as a response to a call I have to lead people in this way.

Church feels very different when you are leading it or when others have expectations of you. I am thankful for the opportunity to worship in a new congregation this morning that feels very "normal" (meaning not as exciting and as unique as Holy Covenant, but I am not convinced that is a bad thing). I am thankful for the affirmation of why I go to church, and how much I love being a part of such communities. I am also thankful for the things I took notice of during worship this morning, and how those notes reflect how very much I have learned this year, both in the classroom and in the church. Thanks be to God.

A New Understanding

Yesterday I started reading Donald Miller’s Blue Like Jazz. It has given me a lot to think about, and I love the opportunity to ponder things like this… to think about faith and life and love and God in non-academic ways. I love that this book is allowing me to contemplate these things in ways I used to before I was a seminarian.

I got from a nap this afternoon and these words kept rolling through my mind. Like a story that has been written for me, waiting for me to record it. It was a bizarre occurrence, especially considering how obvious I think the statement is. Yet I also realize it is a truth we do not reflect upon often enough.

I do not understand God. Nor do I think God intends for me to. The more I seek to understand God and how we relate to one another, the more I realize God cannot fit into any of the boxes we have thought up – no matter how big or small that box may be. God can’t fit into the box – even the box of how we define omnipotent or omnipresent. God can’t fit, because when we define, we make a box. And God fits in no boxes. God is the box.