And what an incredible few days it has been! Alice, Clarence and I arrived in Los Angeles Wednesday evening, picked up our rental car, and battled rush hour traffic 40 miles to our motel. Thursday our to do list included the following: visiting the beach, dropping off our rental car, exploring the university and swimming in the pool. After about 10 km of walking we had accomplished our list and then some.
When we arrived at the university we discovered that the kitchen truck had already arrived from Grand Rapids. We met Hank, the driver, and his wife Chris. Alice was given the grand tour of all the kitchen truck's gadgets and has decided that she has a lot of learning to do- I know that she will be a quick study!
Back at the motel we found that Karel had arrived safe and sound and together we all had a nice dinner and went to bed early to recover from our jet-lag.
Yesterday (Friday) dawned with the arrival of dozens of cyclists at Vanguard University and a growing sense of anticipation filling the air. I saw familiar face after familiar face and I cannot describe the excitement that filled me all day long! I spent hour after hour flitting from one conversation to the next, catching up on the five years since the last tour.
Looking around at all our fellow cyclists, jet-lagged and working to find their place, I recognized many of the same emotions I felt in 2008 when I arrived in Seattle, inexperienced and terrified of what I had gotten myself into. I remember arriving at registration exhausted and finding myself amid a sea of unfamiliar faces. I felt so insecure but did my best to look like I knew what I was doing. Yet the family of Sea to Sea absorbed that 18-year-old girl and made her feel right at home. They took care of me like I was their own. They set up my tent when I was on sweep, bought me snacks, and hugged and encouraged me. With their help, and the Lord's, I made it across the continent that first time, one pedal stroke at a time- despite my apprehension and struggles.
It is my prayer that I would have the same energy to make others feel just as at home, to welcome them into the family of Sea to Sea and to soothe their worries.
Today promises to be a long day (although ironically much cooler than it is at home). I will spend some time working on our celebrations, organizing my belonging into their new home (two laundry baskets in the gear truck), officially registering, welcoming new arrivals, and nursing the sore throat that I picked up overnight. Tonight all the cyclists will be participating in a three hour safety class but until then are free to explore and get to know each other.
I ask that you would remember us in your prayers- without prayer this tour would not be happening. Please pray for health and healing as Clarence and I are now both battling colds. Pray for calm as many cyclists are unnerved and feel unprepared for the days ahead (myself included). Also please pray for the Sea to Sea community to quickly develop and for everyone to feel like they belong. Word has been spreading quickly about our cause and what we crazy people are doing here in LA. It has been a real blessing to see and experience!
We thank God for all of you and for your incredible support. We covet your prayers. Love and blessings, Christeena