Monday, 26 August 2013

To God be the Glory.

Sitting here in the plane waiting to take off for Detroit, I was struck with the knowledge that I'd see my family in just over two hours! And then it hit me that this adventure of a summer was over. No more biking. No more sleeping outside. No more traveling to see a new place each and every day. No more Sea to Sea 2013. My feelings are confused. I am overjoyed to be seeing my family again before I head back to school, but I am saddened that the summer is already over ... Where has the time gone?

Friday we rode from Hyde Park to New City, New York. We were told to expect a lot of climbing and, with the exhaustion of my leg muscles, I was kind of dreading another day of climbing. And we did in fact have quite a bit of climbing ... but I don't know if I'd ever had so much fun! We had to climb up another mountain- 3 miles of it, and that was just one of the climbs! But what a beautiful day. Cool, overcast, tailwind... absolutely perfect. I arrived in camp before all the trucks and crashed happily on top of a picnic table. We were camped alongside a beautiful lake. We overran the bike path running around the lake and caused many curious exercisers to stop and ask what we were doing.

I chose to set my tent up under a pavilion- the mosquitoes have been so bad this past week so I caved and started using just the screen portion of my tent. By still sleeping under a pavilion I am still able to pack up a dry tent in the morning. Well, Friday night I made the mistake of leaving a PB&J sandwich in my bag just outside ... I awoke to my PB&J spattered all over the pavilion floor. Silly skunk got it! Oh well, at least I didn't have to eat it!

I left on our last day of riding with Tim, John, Danita, Amanda and Emily. A mile out of camp we had our first flat. Amanda changed it quickly and we were back on the road, puttering our way to our 11:30 deadline at the Staten Island Ferry. 15 miles later, Amanda was overjoyed to hear her front tire spring a leak yet again! This time John took over. With his veteran 20 flats he is our pro speedy flat changer. Within 8 minutes we were fixed and back on the road.

Our route Saturday took us out of New York, into New Jersey and then back into New York again. We rode across the George Washington bridge, through Manhattan and across Staten Island. What craziness! I was impressed that we only ended up having 5 falls for the entire group!

From the George Washington Bridge

Riding through Manhattan we maneuvered through bike paths overloaded with every kind of pedestrian, cyclist, you name and we saw it! And while it was crazy and busy and overcrowded, there was a sense of charm and history to the buildings and people we passed by. I wished the walls and roads could talk, oh the stories they'd tell! Nearing the ferry we worked our way through buses and cars and motorcycles and police men and traffic lights and sightseeing tour lines and gardens and buildings to finally arrive at the ferry, frazzled but alive. Our group had had only one fall- John completed an acrobatic front cartwheel when his front tire met a post supporting a fence. His wheel stopped but the rest of him and his bike kept going until they met the concrete. After about 15 minutes of digesting all the adrenaline we was able to ride normally, although we were all incredibly shaken up. The rude and obnoxious reprimand we received for cycling in New York, all while John lay bleeding on the ground, didn't help calm us any however. But we made it!

In order to board the ferry we were sniffed by a dog ... I guess we may have had bombs or something in our bike bags, but shortly after we were walking onto the ferry. We made ourselves comfortable and were treated to beautiful sights as we sped our way from mainland New York to Staten Island were a police escort awaited us.

On the ferry!
Project hospitality was very instrumental in our
stay on Staten Island. They have been working hard in hurricane Sandy relief and it was a pleasure to learn from them. Without them our finale would not have been nearly so smooth. Our police escort of 6.5 miles brought us around to the ocean side of the island- fittingly also the epicentre of Sandy. Here we organized as quickly as such a large group can. Pranced our bikes over the hot sand and lined up to dip our tires. And that was that.

As quickly as Sea to Sea had begun, it was over. We circled up to pray and thanked our great God for a fantastic journey. For his protection. All glory be to Him!

Together with my Sea to Sea family we have crossed the continent. And what a privilege it has been to get to know each and every one of them! I have made many close friends. I have felt their support and encouragement over these last months. I quickly came to appreciate this new family of mine way back in California and now that appreciation has turned to love. I love this family. What an incredible blessing to have been part of this journey! Saturday night at our closing celebration we were tole that through our group one can see community and one can see the church ... I too have felt part of an incredible community and I have a renewed sense of hope in the church. I look forward to my next steps in life. I am saddened by the need to move forward but I feel more empowered to do so.

One of the thoughts from our reflectors devotional has continually come back to my mind over these past weeks of riding. As I sit here thinking back through those days, I truly believe that "sometimes the ride breaks you and sometimes the ride fixes what's broken." I have been broken this summer and I have experienced much healing. I have felt every emotion possible to mankind from love to annoyance, from joy to sorrow, from exhaustion to elation...

I have cried. I have laughed much. I have been annoyed. I have been frustrated. I have been utterly content. I have seen poverty. And I have simply been. Perhaps that is what I enjoyed the most on this tour- the opportunity to just be. Live has been simple- sleep, eat, bike, shower, walk, eat, sleep, eat, walk... That has been my life these last weeks.

Saturday night we discussed what we will do once we get home, what changes we may make as a result of the tour. And aside from the humorous responses about taking a long shower ... alone... with hot water ... with no one in line... we have decided to live more simply, to buy less, to downsize, to get involved, and to use the rejuvenation of the summer for the good of others through service.

So far Sea to Sea 2013 has raised a total of $1.75 million dollars - and counting! God has been good and the number of money stories and God stories during our pelotons is testimony to the wonder of community and church, of which you are a part. Saturday night we laughed, talked, enjoyed good food, and celebrated God's incredible feat.

Riding through New York Saturday, navigating across the George Washington bridge into Manhattan and answering the constant, slightly irritated question of, "where're you guys comin' from?" with an enthusiastic Los Angeles, California!!! was an elating experience! One I will not soon forget.

For some reason this summer when I would groggily awake, a song would pop into my mind and remain there for most of the ride. Saturday a song entitled, "The Well" by Casting Crowns came to mind. So through our final 60 kilometre ride to the beach on Staten Island, through the two steep hill climbs, two flats, and a fall that scared the --- out of me, snippets of the song were running through my mind... Just leave it all behind. Leave it all behind ... Come to the well. I've got what you need ... All who thirst will thirst no more ...

I think I can speak for all those involved in Sea to Sea that, if not for God, we never would have completed this trip let alone began it. We have experienced true fasting. We have spent ourselves on behalf of the poor; we have worked hard to satisfy the needs of the oppressed. And God has called us, throughout this journey, to leave it all to him. We have done what we could to help those in need. We have ridden through pain, endured many struggles - weather, people, mechanical issues, all in the name of Christ. We have done our best to be good ambassadors for His kingdom. And yes, we have failed. But we did our best, faulty though it may be. And now that we've finished this part of our journey, God is calling us to leave it all to him.

And so, as I now work to reintegrate into "normal" daily life, I will remember
this summer fondly. I will continue in this fight. I will continue to remember the many lessons I have learned these weeks and I will continue to do my best to follow my Lord wherever He leads.

I thank you for joining with me in this journey and for giving me the immense pleasure of reading your comments and meeting you. May you be richly blessed. I am undecided about whether I will be back on this blog in the future. Maybe yes, maybe no. Feel free to check back occasionally if you're interested. But until then, blessings. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.

To God be the glory.

1 comment:

  1. Christeena, Thank you for sharing your journey and photos. You are one amazing young woman and those who are fortunate to work beside you are blessed. Your focus remained steadfast and your commitment strong. Congratulations on a ride well done. May your future hold more adventures and a lot of happiness for you. Please continue to share your life story now and then. I will check back. You are a beautiful inspiration. Blessings to you. Gloria Aukeman