Monday, 22 July 2013

Camp Oasis... what an Oasis!

Well, our fifth week has begun. We are on our way from Fairbury to Iowa City, Iowa. Our ride today was nice and short as we rode from Fairbury to Firth, NE. As typical, I left early and arrived early. As I crested what must have been hill # 200 of the day, I saw a young woman with a megaphone and pink shirt waving at me. I was a little confused as I didn't recognize her and my odometer said that I had a little distance to cover yet before I was to arrive in camp. Well, turns out she was tasked with directing us into Camp Oasis as the entrance was kind of hidden. I was just about set to cruise down yet another hill when I spotted Abby so I'm glad she was there or I would have missed the camp entirely and would have had to back track up the hill. 

Abby and I had a wonderful conversation as we directed the arriving Sea to Sea traffic into the camp. It was some time before the next riders arrived so we chatted. She was very curious about road biking and what equipment we use and how far we bike and what kind of bikes we use. Her questions and enthusiasm made my day. We talked about our schooling and ultimately learned that both of us are in education and are interested in cross-cultural missions. I met  a kindred spirit on the side of the road today! 

As Abby and I talked we planned to put her on one of our bikes and take her for a short ride to get a feel for what clips and skinny road bikes feel like. Well this adventure expanded into a group of five- myself and four new riders, three from the camp and Matt, our new truck driver. The five of us took a 2 mile jaunt down to the tiny town of Firth for ice cream. We had a very long training session about clipping in and clipping out. I couldn't risk anyone falling as we were borrowing the bikes of fellow cyclists- and I know how much they care they put into their bikes. We made it without incident thankfully, and I think I've discovered one or two budding cyclists in the group! What fun! 

I have received many comments and much encouragement about my comments on Saturday about dealing with the pressure of riding fast and being first. And I thank you all! I am encouraged and refreshed and so grateful to have such a supportive community on my side. I am doing much better after a wonderful day off. My raw emotions have healed, for the most part and, during the ride today, I barely felt pain in my butt- thank God! I babied my butt yesterday and spent as much time as possible lying down and resting. And today I have noticed an improvement! 

But more importantly I have two stories. I am ashamed of how easy it has been for me to forget why I'm on this tour. During our worship yesterday, Jane Brouwer spoke about how she too struggled on Saturday's ride- how the wind was exhausting and her butt complaining. But then she went on to describe how she was reminded, while struggling along on her bike into the headwind and driving rain, that we cyclists have the opportunity to call a SAG vehicle at any time, that we don't have to ride the entire distance if we don't want to. We chose to be on this tour. And, when we finish biking across the country we all have a nice comfy bed at home to welcome us and a job to provide us with an income. The poor don't have these options. They don't get to wake up every morning with the knowledge that at the end of a long day's work, a hot, delicious meal will be waiting for us. They don't have the assurance of assistance when the going gets tough. They often don't even have clean water available. But we do. We are blessed. 

A friend of mine who is at camp this supper recently wrote the following:

"Have you ever had a really good cheesecake, and you savour absolutely every bite?  Then when the plate is empty, and if you’re like me, you have licked every last morsel off your mom’s favourite china, you lean back in your chair, remembering what was, and wishing that there was more.

“Don’t be sad it’s over, be happy it happened” (Dr. Seuss).  God gives us tonnes of cheesecakes, in loads of different varieties, and He wants us to enjoy every bite, and to not be sad when it’s over, but be happy with the cheesecakes that He gave us.  I urge you to examine your cheesecakes, and find the blessings that have come from them!"

Here I was complaining of the small things. I let a sore butt and a tired brain cloud my true purpose for why I am doing this trip. I am blessed to be able to participate in Sea to Sea, to meet fellow brothers and sisters across the country and spread awareness of the plight of those in need. So I apologize. My eyes have been unclouded, at least for the moment. I am learning to constantly go back to God for redirection of my purpose. These words of my friend, combined with those of Jane have redirected my mind to what is more important. I am working to remember to "enjoy my cheesecakes" and to not only find the blessings that come from them but also work to be a blessing to others.

And yesterday's Sabbath reminded me again of the beautiful body of Christ. This church family opened their doors to us and I have never felt so welcomed! From being greeted at the door by three church members, to Sea to Sea decorations all over the church and sanctuary, to a cycling-themed sermon, to an over-the-top potluck, Sunday was a phenomenal time of rest, joy in the Lord, and rejuvenation. Future churches will be hard pressed to beat these United Presbyterian brothers and sisters!

Well, it is two and a half weeks until we reach Sarnia, Ontario, CANADA!!! How time has flown! I can't tell you how excited we are to cycle into Canada! Word is spreading of our tour and what we are working to do. Praise the Lord for His surpassing greatness! All glory be to his most holy name!

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