Thursday, November 18, 2010

Friends all over

In the morning, I crawled out of my tent and the dugout to find a handful of pickup trucks parked around the baseball fields. My first thought: “Those definitely weren't there last night. Nope.” But for some reason, I couldn't see or hear a single person. Strange, I thought. A little creepy too. As I was packing up, and trying to not be seen. A man walked around the corner, and jumped a little when he saw me. He invited me into the concession stand to get warm, to my surprise. After I packed up, I took him up on the offer. There were just four guys hanging out inside. They were the groundskeepers, and apparently none of them saw my tent when they drove up. Go figure.

Anyway, I just chatted with them about the weather, sports, faith, and life in general for several hours. They were so generous. They even convinced me to take some of their candy bars, and bought me some biscuits and gravy for breakfast. One of the guys even offered to drive me to Booneville, my next stop on my trip, but I declined. Before I left, we prayed together, which was encouraging and uplifting. Towards the end of the trip, I began to realize that even though I had little to give anyone, especially the people that helped me out, I could always pray with them and for them. I have found that, somehow, you can connect with a person on another level when you pray together. It's a small, yet powerful way to love someone, and simultaneously you are uplifted yourself in the process. I don't why it has taken me so long to realize this, but now, whenever I remember and have the opportunity, I love praying with whoever I meet on the road. It's the least, and at the same time the most, that I can do for someone.

I rode on, under gray skies, into Arkansas. Crossing the state line energized me to press on, being so close to home and the finish of the trip. The route to Booneville was incredible! There were plenty of tough hills, but I loved the challenge of them. And the view at the top of each crest was impeccable! Cows dotting the sloping valleys, surrounded by strings of auburn hills. Ahh! Beautiful countryside, and I knew I was getting closer to home! I arrived in Booneville after dark, and started asking around for places to camp. Randomly, as I was stopped at a traffic light downtown, a guy and his friends walked up and asked where I was going. So, I asked him for a place to stay. He told me about the city lake a few miles north where I could camp. I thanked him, and hoped I could find something closer. As I was about to leave, his friend came back and asked me my name again. He offered to let me camp out at his house, just a few blocks away! I wouldn't have to ride a couple miles through the hills, and I might get to hang out with these guys. I quickly took him up on the offer.

I end up hanging out with him (his name's Isaac), his wife, and their friends. They even built me a bonfire by my tent in the backyard – my first bonfire of the trip, on my last night! It was great! I hung out with them, and heard part of their stories. They're both from Booneville, and he works with a company that employs workers with disabilities doing manufacturing jobs. Random (or maybe not), because that has been an interest of mine for the past year. I don't know how much to read into it, but it was insightful at the very least to talk to him.
I slept in the backyard with their two German Shepherds and an electric blanket they let me borrow. Ironic, camping with an electric blanket and an extension cord running inside, but it kept me warm! Thanks a bunch Isaac and Lacey!

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