It is very interesting the ways God speaks to us. Sometimes we may feel that the timing for his instructions are keeping us from getting to the next point on our path but we soon realize that his timing is perfect and the interruptions are necessary in more ways than one.
When we first met Maria she told us about these traveling Christians who came into town on their bicycles several months ago and have not left. She said they seem different than other Christians and they wear strange clothes and stand at the wall and play music and talk to people. We were intrigued and wanted to meet them, but Maria’s door was open and we decided to stay with her as you read on the previous blog. On our way out of town we got about 3 miles down the path and got to a picnic table at the same time as another gentlemen on his bike. We sat down to converse with him and it turns out he was one of the “strange christians”. He really wasn’t that strange though, he was actually a very kind and loving soul, named David. After he discovered why we were hiking he was exited and wanted us to meet the rest of his clan. There are 6 of them that all live together and travel around the U.S on their bicycles. After about 30 minutes of a meet and greet kind of conversation he jumped on his bike to rush back to town to arrange a way for us to come meet his clan. We refer to them as the “Christianites” because they don’t have a name of their own and so I will be calling them that from now on. As David was rushing back to see if he could get a ride for us I remembered a thought I had in what I thought was just my imagination throughout the last month. I thought we would get to a certain place and there would be a certain someone there who had been coming there for 2 or 3 days because they felt like God wanted them to go there to meet someone. David had been in that spot for the third time because he felt like he was supposed to meet someone. Coincident?! I hear coincidents are just God’s way of staying anonymous! :)
Before this journey got underway, we both felt like someone was going with us. God confirmed it in both of us, and although we didn’t know who it was, when we would meet, how many of them there were, or for how long we would travel together, we knew in our hearts that it was going to happen at some point. So after we had met David and we watched him speed away riding as fast a he possibly could, we got really excited about the possibility of traveling companions. We waited there at the picnic table for a bit then I realized that I had acquired the “trail smell” again, and with the prospect of meeting new people I jumped in the river to rinse off. I am glad I did because about an hour later we got a phone call from David and he was happy to report that the woman they were staying with was fine with us coming over. I changed clothes, packed our things and off we went, eagerly hiking back towards Shepherdstown. We made it about two of the three miles back down the towpath and we saw David and a woman named Rahama approaching us on the path! They were so wonderful and immediately we could see the love of Christ in them. When the four of us finally made it back to the bridge over the river where the car was waiting, I realized that we all had to cram in like sardines and man was I glad I had that moment in the river! We met Gail and Jerry in the car. Gail was the woman they were staying with and Jerry was one of the “brothers.” We were all excited and everyone immediately had a lot to talk about. After the short car ride we arrived at Gail’s house. We were invited in and as soon as we entered one of the “sisters” named Deedee, offered to give Kristin a foot massage!! Kristin was grinning from ear to ear because she had been praying for one for a few days, and there is only so much I can do in the tent with sweaty, dirty, hiker feet and a bottle of hand sanitizer! :) As soon as we arrived we set our packs down and washed up for dinner. The other sisters had already prepared the meal and we all sat down to the table. We shared some of our testimony and they shared some of theirs and we talked about God’s Love and Grace. David was especially happy to hear our story because he had been living in a very similar way for the past 30 years, and seldom sees anyone else forsaking all and following Christ. He was actually “down in the doldrums” about it for a while and we were an answer to his prayers. Most of dinner was spent uplifting and encouraging one another. After dinner we all sat down in the living room and sang songs and talked until pretty late. It was such an enjoyable evening spent in fellowship with like-minded followers of Christ.
The next morning we went into town with Jerry, Deedee and Rahama, to talk to the people in the town like they often do. We went to “the wall” where a lot of young people usually congregate. Jerry brought his guitar and we all sang songs and talked with a few people. We also got to share a little more of our story. While we were there, Deedee went to inquire about 2 bikes that someone wanted to give to them. When she came back, her and Jerry went to go pick them up. We were thinking, “hmmm...it is strange that we met in the way that we did, and suddenly they get offered two more bicycles for free.” Kristin and I both felt like they were possibly for us, but that we also felt like God was calling us to WALK not ride. So we decided to pray about it and wait for God’s will to be shown to us. After towing the two new bikes back to Gail’s, Jerry, David, and I started on dinner. Things were looking up and getting very exciting to say the least.
While we were riding back to Gayle’s, Rahama and I were tagging pretty far behind and got stopped by a local who owned a car repair shop. His name I cannot remember but he gave us a brand new bike helmet and a bike lock! “Wow!” I thought, “Is this possibly another sign for us?” Ruhama told the kind gentleman what Jeff and I were doing and he and a friend prayed for us. Ruhama and I hopped back on the bikes and headed to the house to cool off. When we got inside I was feeling like accepting the shower that they had persistently been offering. After a refreshing shower I asked Ruhama if I could borrow something to wear since all my hiker clothes were dirty and smelly! She dressed me up in bright peach and lilac, I felt like a flower! We then enjoyed some delicious dinner and fellowship together and while I was in the shower Jerry had asked Jeff if he could speak to us privately. So after dinner and clean-up we went down stairs with him to talk. He seemed to be having a hard time telling us what he wanted to say. After several moments of silence he brought to us Mark 10:11-12: He told them, “whoever divorces his wife and marries another, commits adultery against her, and if a woman divorces her husband and marries someone else, she commits adultery.” Jerry felt that since Jeff had been married before that he was committing adultery. He then proceeded to ask for the sake of peace that we would sleep in separate beds that night. I immediately felt in my spirit we would have to leave. I became silent and started weeping so I dismissed myself and went to the other side of the room to cry, not because what he had just said offended me or made me feel bad, but because I loved them all so much I did not want to leave them, but God was letting me know in my spirit it was time to go. I dried my eyes as much as possible and came back to the room and Jeff mouthed we had to go and I felt the same way. I told Jerry we would not be staying. I told him I pray that God would give him the peace that he had given Jeff and I about that scripture and I had no doubt in my mind that we were husband and wife. I told him we were not leaving because we were offended, and that I had no problem not sleeping with my husband, but if I did that I would be listening to man and not God. I said that I never put man’s words above God’s. So we had a few more moments of silence and Jeff asked Jerry to tell the others and we packed up. As we were leaving, Ruhama and Deedee were standing at the door and I immediately started weeping again as I hugged them and they both were silent and we all were at a loss for words to speak, so we just hugged and I cried and laughed at the same time.
Earlier that morning when I woke up, before the day began, I went outside to pray and as I was seeking God to show me why we were still in Shepherdstown, I kept feeling like he was telling me we were there for Maria. So after saying goodbye to the Christianites we headed to Maria’s house where we found her, and her best friend Jess, were sitting in the living room. In a way they were actually waiting on us!
Apparently Maria and Jess were feeling kinda tired and decided to stay home, which they said was strange for them. They also said that, “wouldn’t it be cool if ‘the Christians’ (meaning Kristin and I) came back?” It was soon after they started talking about us that they heard us knocking at the back door and they knew it was us!!! How cool is that? Unbeknownst to us, a huge ripple effect had been set in motion in the town because of our time with Maria. She and Jess were telling us how the people we met just a few days before would have normally chased us down the street and out of town for talking about Jesus, but for some odd reason everyone was getting along, and talking about God!! Woah! Giving all glory and honor to God, we were excited for Maria and her friends in town! May God come and water the seeds that were planted in Shepherdstown! We told them what had happened with us the last few days and we stayed up way too late talking, again. ;) The next morning Kristin and I tried to find a church to attend with no luck because we had slept in too late. Oops. So after walking to several different churches, and finding a cup of coffee, we ran into Jerry down at “the wall” and got to talk to him and Deedee for a bit. We asked if they had gotten together to talk about the night before and he said they hadn’t. After a while Kristin and I both went back to Maria’s and she made us the most amazing tuna melt sandwiches EVER and then suggested we go get some “water therapy” down at the river. So Maria, Jess, Rose, Kristin, and I went down to the river with fishing poles, a kayak, and “the Redneck Yacht” which is half duct tape and half queen sized air mattress! Genius! Good times were had by all and we left with plenty of time to run by the grocery store to grab snacks and head off to the mountains to watch the 4th of July celebrations. Maria took us to the top of this mountain to a clearing where we could see for 50-60 miles of West Virginia's rolling hills. We saw two different town’s fireworks, and every local family’s mortar show too! It was as if we were up in the clouds looking down at all these sparkling flowers bloom and disappear all over a green lawn! It was incredible to say the least. Thank you SOOO much for that Maria! After the most incredible evening spent with the most incredible of friends, we went back to Maria’s. Maria and Jess decided they wanted to go to this open mic night, and they really, really wanted for us to go and play, but we felt like we needed to leave in the morning so we told her that we would pray about it. As we were lying in bed praying, Maria walked by our room and whispered, “God wants you to go to open mic.” It was really funny and we all laughed about it, but we knew that He really wanted us to go to bed. Nice try Maria, but it doesn’t work quite like that! ;)
We woke up relatively early and went a few doors down to the local cafe where we got some egg sandwiches and coffee. After breakfast we went back and found Maria and Jess awake. We said our goodbyes and that’s when I realized that I had lost my sunglasses at some point the day before. :( So after a good search of the house and cars, we figured them for lost and said farewell to Maria and Jess. We think about you often and we will miss you a lot. Maria you will be in our thoughts and prayers everyday until we meet again!
Okay! Wow, this blog is long and we are not even finished yet!! Thank God for the AC at the McD’s!! After we left Shepherdstown we headed to the next campsite where I began to feel a cold setting in. I went through all my Kleenex's and half of my roll of toilet paper in a day. So we rested a day at that campsite and met a great boyscout troop and Mr. Cat, the campsite stray who was adorable and by judging his behavior, he was not born a stray. If he had not been rolling in Lord knows what, I would have cuddled with him all day!! We were 100 % by the next morning and we shared the breakfast bench with the boyscout’s one last time and said goodbye to them as they headed towards Georgetown and we headed towards the DETOUR!
The detour is 5 miles of winding country blacktop with no shoulder. You are supposed to take the detour because for 25 years the towpath has been washed out and overgrown with poison ivy, vines, and other various entangled plant life. However, while in town, Tom, the guy who owned the running shop told us it really isn’t too bad if you’re on foot! He said, “oh you might have to slide down a rock or two.” HA! So we got an adventurous hair and decided to go for the woolybuggered lack of trail. We got to a point that had a sign prompting bike’s to take detour and hikers take caution so we proceeded ahead. Then we got to a huge wooden fence with a big WARNING! DANGER! STOP! DO NOT GO ANY FURTHER SIGN! So we said, “hmmph” and walked around it! We were immediately walking through tons of poison ivy, which Jeff is highly allergic to, and sawing through tree branches just so we could get through. Then we got to a part where we had to either start rock climbing, which we had no equipment for, or go through knee deep river. So we got our shoes wet! After a mile or so of that and a gallon of sweat, we came to another spot that we had no choice but to go up. Thank goodness Jeff had spotted a game trail that went to the top of the ridge. It would have made a billy goat pucker, but we followed its ups and downs to a human trail that took us to someone’s boat dock. We ran to it and undressed and jumped in the river, soaped up everything and thanked God for not letting us get hurt! We were also out of water and we had to filter the Potomac, which we later found out was a horrible source of water and most people would not even swim in it! But we are still alive so it must not have been too bad!! We proceeded up the man made trail, possibly trespassing a little, and found our way back to the part of the towpath that had been restored! Thank heavens! We walked about 2-3 miles to the next campsite about to fall over as usual and set up camp, made dinner and crashed out.
Hahaha!! It’s 4:17p.m. and we started writing this at 11:30a.m.! So we slept in again, and then packed up and walked the 9 miles to Williamsport, MD. This is where we met Rev. Luther on the towpath. He offered to drive us to Hagerstown, MD so we could go to the grocery store. He dropped us off at Golden Coral and said that we could stay with him and his wife that evening! God is good! So we ate entirely too much food off of the buffet and waddled over to the grocery store. On the way there, we decided to cut through the big mall to save some time and distance. After lots of strange looks from tons of people clad in designer duds, we made it to the other side of the mall where we met Nick. Nick was standing outside on his break from his Sprint Wireless Store. He happened to overhear our conversation with another mall-goer about our journey. He was very interested and said that he would love to pick our brains about our story, and even offered us a place to stay! Wow, two options for a good nights rest in a house with a shower and a/c! How “cool” is that?!! Fact: it’s been high 90’s - low 100’s for the last few days here. Nick told us that he gets off work at 9:00 and if we wanted a place to stay to meet him there. So off we went to the grocery store where we bought entirely too much food and a new pair of sunglasses for me. During the shopping spree we were fortunate to meet a fellow hiker named “Ewok.” He was very interested in the trail we were hiking because he had thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail before, but never heard of anything like the ADT. We talked for like 25 minutes standing next to the dried fruit and nuts before we suggested we go to a coffee shop or something. We decided to finish up our shopping and meet at the front of the store. After we checked out we found Ewok at the front of the store and he said that there wasn’t a coffee shop close by, so we parked it at the bench outside of the grocery store and talked for an hour or so. Ewok had some great insight and suggestions for us and we were so blessed to have met him! He even gave us a ride in his awesome Jeep back over to the mall to meet Nick! Thanks Ewok!! Give our Love to the kids in India when you get over there!!! Godspeed. And I’m tired of typing again, so.....Herrrrrre’s KRISTIN!!!! TA-DA!
Wow! Okay so we got to the mall and had to wait on Nick to rap things up at work and shut everything down. We hopped in the car with him and his little brother and headed down the street to drop his brother off and then we got a tour of Hagerstown. On the way to Nick’s house he said he had just moved in and he had a roommate that got off of work late but would probably go to the bar afterwards and come home really late so we would not see much of him. When we got to Nick’s house we crashed on the couches and listened to Nick’s stories of traveling around the U.S with his family and being in the Navy. We were both really sleepy and wanted to go to bed but also wanted to be friendly and talk to this Nick guy who so graciously invited us into his home. So we conversed with him a while longer and the conversation opened up for us to tell him our testimony right as his brother was walking in. His roommate also made an appearance to change his clothes before heading out to the bar. He said hi, nice to meet you, bye. Short meeting! Finally around 1:30 Nick decided we looked sleepy enough to go to sleep and him and his brother and their friend Katie went outside. We fell asleep and were awakened at 3 a.m to the roommate angry and drunk screaming and cussing at Nick on the phone that it was rude for him to invite two strangers to crash in the living room without asking him. So Jeff and I quietly got up, packed up and left just so we wouldn’t cause anymore problems between the roommates. We found the first church and popped our tent in the most discreet place on the property and got a couple hours of sleep before people started showing up for 8 a.m. Mass, which we decided to attend as well! We figured after a night like that, a quick mass would do us good even though we are not catholic. It was refreshing and afterwards we headed toward the path, stopped at the laundry mat, the Dollar General for some ponchos, and then ate at Waffle House. Now we are at McDonalds, where we have been for almost 6 hours and are tired of typing and need to upload some pictures before sundown. So I bid farewell for now and God Bless to all our readers and pray God’s grace, peace. and love be with you forever and ever!!