Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Everything is Bigger in Texas

May 31--Day 16
Canadian, Texas
Written by Rev

Well not EVERYTHING. Our Honda Ruckus' that have an amazing and powerful engine still are 49cc's and still go roughly 37 mph. But we are still the same size anyways, well for the most part. Sunburnt has played an effect into making some parts of us larger, although not too noticeable. We also do have this sweet ring around each of our eyes due to sunglasses being worn on the hot and sunny days.

We left Keystone State Park at 8:45 after having a pretty relaxing morning. The air mattress that I received barely fits in my tent, but it fits, so I am thankful for it! We played some catch and were soon on our way to Texas. We stopped for coffee at Aspen Cafe in Stillwater, OK which was a delight to stop and hangout for a bit.

We ate dinner at at a local cafe in Arnett, OK which is about 15 miles from the Texas border. So we pushed on in the heat and dry air.

The topography of the land was relatively flat with an occasional hill and lots and lots of wheat fields. Pretty much the most wheat that I have ever seen; I have definitely had enough of it. As we moved into Texas, the heat was seen clearly blazing up from the asphalt. Therefore, we made our way to a Dairy Queen after scoping out a camp site. After Dairy Queen we headed back to camp, pitched our tents and then went to watch REAL cowboys and cowgirls rope cattle.

There is something to say about this whole roping cattle thing. Something that I am totally not used too, so it is a totally brand new experience for me to see cowboys and cowgirls everywhere. But it is awesome! It has always been a dream of mine to live on a farm with horses, etc. But I guess you just got to live down here to actually have the real thing, because let me tell you--they know what they're doing down here.

The traffic was pretty sparse today as we were practically in the middle of nowhere. Although we did have about 10 semi-trucks pass us from behind and come back our way after dropping their load off. Also, if you want to get hit by bugs while driving anywhere, head to Oklahoma. It was brutal. I am pretty sure that I killed about 5 bugs every 30 minutes. There was big ones and small ones--yes the big ones hurt, a lot.

The towns are extremely small in these parts, therefore we didn't get to talk with many people today, but it is a good time to travel long distances because there isn't much to see. Well there is the random group of cattle in the pasture next to the road. As we drive by, they look at us like we are crazy. Maybe it is due to the extra loud volume of Wilberforce and maybe it is because we are crazy. Who knows?

Well today was a good day as Viking says as he heads to bed. I am on my way as well. We are both sunburnt quit badly and a good rest is greatly needed.

Thank you all for your prayers and support. We appreciate them each and every day and cannot thank you enough!

To God Be the Glory.

Monday, May 30, 2011


May 30 - Day 15
Sand Springs, OK
Written by Viking

..where the wind comes sweeping down the plain.. gusting at 35 knots! But that probably didn't sound good for the song, so they left it out.
This weekend was a delight. I love my family. I love the heart for God that my family has. Sunday we spoke at our first church of the trip. We were blessed to be able to talk with the youth group during Sunday school as well as sharing about our trip and ministry for a few minutes in the main service. I think the Sunday school was a benefit for both the students and the teachers, as God is continually revealing more and more about his heart for justice to Brady and I through questions and discussion. I shouldn't be surprised.

Our time with Luke (cousin) and Anne and their children was great. It was a full house, but they were very gracious hosts, and we enjoyed every second of it. I could go on for a while..
We ended up shoving off from their home around 10:15 this morning, continuing our westward trek. We passed a town today that had two different populations posted on two different signs. Not just a few digits off, either. One was four times higher than the other. We found that amusing. Harriet and Wilberforce are doing well. Harriet still hasn't had any problems. Wilberforce has grown quite a bit louder over the past week, but is still operating normal. She's actually faster than Harriet now due to some new parts last week. I predict another 18,000 miles out of her. If God has other plans, I'm thrilled to see what lessons he has to teach us about trusting his sovereign plan. We are planning to swing south a ways in an attempt to avoid the Rocky Mountains this week. We will have to cross them when we head east again, but we'll at least be further along.

Today was a very windy day with temps in the mid-90's. We've been blessed to avoid all of the severe weather that's been around the country in the past weeks. As Rev has mentioned, though, it has been a good thing, a moving thing for he and I to see the damage all over the south that these tornadoes have caused. It has served to scrape away the willful ignorance he and I both have regarding the trials that people just a day away from us are walking through.

We are just west of Tulsa, OK now at a rather pleasant campsite on a lake. The sun just went below the treeline. We arrived a couple hours ago and played a little catch (baseball) and have been writing and reading. And meeting some new friends of the duck variety. This is up there as one of my favorite evenings of the trip so far.

Just a brief aside, here. People have asked where our nicknames came from, so I shall tell you. Rev is obviously short for reverend. Brady has been pursuing his pasotral call since before I met him, so it just makes sense to call him Rev as a way of encouraging him in his pursuit. Viking was one of my multitude of nicknames in the Marine Corps. The Stockelands are of Norwegian heritage, and I was much larger at one time, so the moniker of Viking made logical sense.

Today is Memorial Day. Memorial Day always makes me think. I always ask myself the question, "Am I living in such a way that I am taking advantage of the freedoms I have been given by those who have gone before me? Am I appreciating the smallest little things in life that some people will never experience?" I challenge myself, and I offer the challenge to others; enjoy life. Take advantage of the freedoms that we have been given. Thomas Gilbert, Jonathan Thornsberry, Jacob Neal, Brett Whitteveen, Kenny VanSlyke, and Andy Kim are six Marines that always enter my thoughts today. They are the Marines that I knew on some level or another who gave their lives in Iraq. For where God has Brady and I in our lives today, the best way we can honor their sacrifice is to spend time with my cousin's family (ESPECIALLY his children), ride our scooters across the open road, play baseball, and share the love of Christ with anyone who will listen. But on a greater scale, how can we use these freedoms and blessings for the everlasting Kingdom, for God's kingdom? There are many, many ways I see, but it's something I'd like people to be mindful of on Memorial Day.
"To whom much was given, much will be required." Luke 12:48
There have been times when the breath in my lungs felt like all the riches in the world being lavished on me. But as Americans (most of us, I am assuming), we have a tremendous blessing, and a tremendous responsibility to use what we've been given.
So, honor and memorialize and remember, but also be asking and praying about ways in which we can use the sacrifices of these men and women to bring glory to God.

Our day is done. Please continue to pray for opportunities to talk with people whose hearts God is preparing and cultivating. This is a relatively sparse area of the country this week, but we still want to be used by God, and appreciate and cherish your prayers to that end. Flagstaff, AZ is the goal for Sunday, if you are curious.

God is good.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

West of Mississippi

May 26, 2011--Day 13
Green Forest, Arkansas
Written by Rev

We started out our day leaving the pool house in Corinth, MS and heading to the great Honda dealer in Corinth. We were in good spirits about this opportunity to fix Wilberforce. The owner checked Wilberforce out, but didn't find anything wrong with him, so we decided to press on. Memphis, TN was our destination for lunch, so we could cross into Arkansas in the afternoon.

After passing signs for Canaan and the Walls of Jericho, I was curious if we were in the Holy Land or still in America, especially after being in Athens and Corinth the day before. But anyways, we found we were still in America, which was some what disappointing to me, but thats okay.

Memphis provided a great place to eat lunch at the classic Panera Bread. A security guard offered to guard our bikes for us while we ate lunch. We were very thankful for his kindness and sincerity for watching our vehicles.

Memphis was awesome! My favorite part was driving right through the heart of it, dodging the potholes and then taking the interstate, yes, the interstate over the Mississippi River to get to Arkansas. That was a rather scary and crazy experience which I do not wish to ever go through again :)

We made it to Bald Knob, AR and ate supper and found ourselves in a hotel room provided from a very fine couple. Thank you very much. We prepped for Sunday, as we are speaking in a church in Green Forest. I was extremely exhausted and fell asleep with my notebook and Bible next to me and woke up at 3 AM and decided to get to sleep without my notebook on me.

We received some good rest and headed to Green Forest after eating some very good breakfast. Viking kept reminding me that we were just under a 100 miles. Very funny since we were definitely under 100 miles from getting there. He thought it was funny, since he was the one with the map and I am not, therefore I must guess when we will be at our destination when he knows. He thinks its funny. I do not. Well its okay.

It was rather a brisk and chilly morning, but warmed up and became extremely hot and muggy. We are now in Viking's cousin's families house where we will be staying and speaking at their church tomorrow morning as well as their youth group.

I want to make a few comments about what we have seen in these states that we have gone through
-it has been very interesting to see the way that people would interact with us in the different parts of the country. Going from Midwest, to East Coast, to the South and back in the Midwest has been interesting to compare the interactions that we have had.
-Tornadoes have devastated many towns in Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi from what we have seen. I have always seen clips and pictures of the after effects of tornadoes, but I have never seen them first hand. My heart ached. I couldn't believe all the devastation that has taken place in our country and I was so unaware of it. I was ashamed that I didn't know all the damage that had happened. My heart went out to them.
-Likewise, as we crossed the Mississippi River and came into eastern Arkansas, I realized that Arkansas is extremely flat in the eastern part. There were lots of fields, but there were so many fields that were flooded, as well as rivers, etc. The flooding was once again a huge effect on me to see houses have water half way up their side--crazy!
-God is good. There have been so many God-sightings on this trip that if we were to name all of them, we would still miss some. God is good.

To God Be the Glory.

Friday, May 27, 2011

A Tale of Two ipads

On Saturday, May 7, I was at a Caribou Coffee working on a presentation for my church family in Minneapolis about my summer plans. In a valiant attempt to clear out my fridge and pantry before leaving, I had been on a steady of diet of cream of wheat and oatmeal for the past several days, and was looking for a little variety. I was being very careful with my finances, but I decided that a vegetarian burrito from Chipotle was a healthy addition to my dietary needs.

I placed the order for the burrito, but their stir fry peppers and whatnot weren't ready for a few minutes, so I said I'd wait. I decided to download a few things real quick. ...Do I admit what I was downloading? Okay, I will. Adventures in Odyssey episodes. I recently came across some old ones in my itunes and discovered that they put me to sleep very quickly. This comes in handy with my erratic sleep schedule.

Anyway, I had my ipad out. I went through the line, filling the burrito with everything they would allow. As I prepared to pay, the lady behind the register told me the burrito was on the house due to my wait time for the peppers. I was thrilled. And rejoicing. Maybe it's just me, but I saw God's hand in that small experience. I've been trying to be a good steward with my money, for the sake of the summer, and I saw this as a tremendous affirmation and blessing! I was smiling widely as I set my ipad down to pack my burrito in my bag. I strode out to Wilberforce and rode home. When I was home I made a quick phone call, read a text message, and went for my ipad so I could listen to some music. My ipad wasn't in my bag. It didn't take long for me to remember setting the ipad down at the restaurant, but I was struggling to remember putting it back in my bag. I ran to Wilberforce and sped (speed being relative, here) to Chipotle. It wasn't where I set it on the counter. I spoke briefly with the management there and they said they could check later to see if their cameras picked anything up.

I went home and dumped my bag out. Of course it wasn't in there. For the minutes between realizing what I had done and finding out it was gone I was frantic. I knew what my summer plans were for the ipad. I knew that it was a seemingly indispensable tool for the summer, as well as for my daily life. Seemingly. After returning home I went to my knees in my living room and prayed. I didn't know what to pray. Do I pray that I get it back? That didn't seem right. Could God have something to teach me through this? Most assuredly. A few weeks earlier my car had been broken into. That really didn't bother me, because my car is expendable. It's a blessing, to be sure, and God is keeping it running. but if it sprouted legs and walked off, I wouldn't lose a minute of sleep. But my ipad? I 'needed' that.

I was a little surprised to see my scooter still sitting outside the next morning. I scrambled to put my notes together for Sunday morning in a red notebook, and made my way to church. God had put joy in my heart. I called my mom (it was Mother's Day) and told my parents about it. I was excited. Maybe God was going to show me that I really can function as a human being and a follower of Christ without a computer! This is going to be such an interesting summer! And it was one of the TWO things I thought were critical to my summer's success! HA!

As I shared with my church my vision for my summer ministry, I mentioned as a disclaimer that my ipad, with most of my notes, had been stolen the night before. In the afternoon I concluded my Marine Corps and settled down to do some studying and reading.

I received a call from a family that they had something for me, if I had the chance to come by. So I did. When I arrived, they told me that they looked at each other when I mentioned my ipad being stolen, knowing exactly what the other was thinking. They seem to have a knack for that. They related that to me as they gave me a box. It was a sealed box that contained a brand new ipad. They had bought it several weeks earlier but hadn't bothered to open it yet. They insisted that I take it, and I accepted it, dumbfounded. This was not what I expected. God's lesson was supposed to be that I can function just fine without my precious little electronics. Right? I think that lesson remained, but there was a new lesson I saw.

I don't think I seemed very grateful when I received this gift because I didn't feel like I deserved it. That's where I received a lesson in grace. God's grace is undeserved, and yet is is lavished upon me every day. It wasn't even 24 hours and I was holding a newer, better ipad in my hands, graciously given to me despite my unprecedented absentmindedness. I felt like I hadn't even suffered long enough for my mistake. John Newton had it right, I think.

I mailed it to a friend I had sold my computer to a while earlier and he was able to upload almost everything I had on my previous ipad onto the new one and had it mailed back to me two days before this trip began. Every blog you have read, every email you have received, every photo you have seen, it has all been made possible by this ipad. Naturally, I am typing this very blog on it right now.

This was one of the first great provisions by God's hand through his people for this trip, and as you have read in the past weeks, it certainly hasn't been the last. Just today again some tremendous blessings were bestowed on us by people I don't even know yet.

It is a joy to write about and remember these blessings. I don't want them to fade with time. Rev and I intended to document every way God has worked in this trip, but it has already been innumerable. Should've known. We would be writing more than we would be riding. Oh, that was a pretty clever sentence... :)

So, I praise the Lord for the undeserved blessing of the ipad (it is no longer 'mine'), and I honor the family that was so encouraging and eager to be used as a blessing.

I've had the first line of the doxology rolling around in my head for some time now..

"Praise God from whom all blessings flow"

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Sweet Home Alabama

May 26, 2011 - Day 11
Corinth, Mississippi
Written By Viking

Our day began in Georgia and is ending in Mississippi. In between was a great experience. However, there is something that is heavy on my mind that I will write about first. As we pulled off the road to get our picture with the Mississippi state sign this evening, Wilberforce began emitting another unfamiliar and discomforting whine. We made is another 30 miles or so to Corinth, where one of the first buildings we saw was a magnanimous Honda dealer. So, we will be going there first thing in the morning to receive a diagnostic evaluation. I have some speculations as to the problem, but I will not reveal my mechanical ignorance just yet.

I've owned Wilberforce a week short of a year now, and it pains me to see her struggling like she has been the past few days. Brady and I have been seeing what God can do with these scooters, and we don't want some mechanical problems to hinder that. But check it out, God is good. All the time.

We were extremely grateful to have been spared from the thunderstorms that rolled through Tennessee and Georgia (and Most of America) last night. We headed to a coffee shop this morning to do some reading, writing, and make a plan of attack for the further storms we saw rolling our way. Just after 8am we decided that we should make a break for Huntsville, Alabama, which was maybe a 3 hour ride away. We didn't want to be trapped by storms for a whole day, and we saw a window in the fronts. The ride was beautiful. We saw some great views and rode some fun roads. Any time that the song 'Dueling Banjos' (youtube it) pops into my head because of a road, it's a good road. We stopped for fuel just east of Huntsville, and after looking at the looming black clouds and examining the radar, we donned full rain gear. What's left of it, anyway. There's only so much that duct tape can fix. The rain gear was a good idea, as we were met with our hardest rain of the trip. The thunderstorm only lasted 10 minutes or so, but it was enough to get us pretty well saturated.

As we made our way through Huntsville it was discovered that I had popped my tire a while back and was losing air. This was the spare tire that was put on less than 24 hours earlier. So, we plugged it, were blessed with free air at an oil change, and continued on, pressing west to avoid further rain. We decided to find lunch in Athens, AL. This would turn out to be one of the better decisions of the trip. (the tire is leaking air, though, so it will need to be addressed soon..)

I've been noticing that this style of travel does not allow for much prior planning. As a result, many, many decisions must be made on the fly. When to get up, when to leave for the day, what route to take, how long to ride, when to stop to explore an abandoned house, when to get gas, where to eat, and the most stressful of all, where to sleep. We really don't want to be arrested for sleeping somewhere we shouldn't, but we also don't want to pay to sleep. Well anyway, we've been praying that God would very clearly direct our paths.

We saw nothing on the main road of Athens, but downtowns have been good to us, so we headed there. We saw some nice looking eateries. I pointed out a deli to Brady, but decided to turn the other direction. We parked, but both agreed that the deli looked and sounded better. We parked out front and were ripping off our rain suits (quite literally, as Brady ripped his coat in half. Again.) when a lady walked out and asked if we were eating there. We were a little befuddled, but expressed our desire to enjoy a bite to eat. The lady said, "Good. It's on the house." We hadn't even been inside yet!!

If you ever are within a days drive of Athens, Alabama, you should make a detour to the Wildwood Deli in downtown Athens. Here, check them out on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/theWildwoodDeli
Or, you can look at their website at http://www.wildwooddeli.com/
Their food is wonderful, but their staff is amazing. We also had some wonderful conversations with the other customers, and an all around fantastic experience. I would go on, but it's getting late. Which reminds me, we passed into the Central Time Zone today. Whee. Athens was great, Brady and I were blessed beyond words, and we even prayed together in the deli! How great is that?! God is good.

Today was really a fun day of riding. It didn't seem long, but we covered several hundred miles. There was one moment that nearly gave us both a heart attack. We keep a close eye on the traffic behind us, and at this moment we were on a downhill stretch, and two semis were bearing down on us, probably one-hundred yards behind or so. Well all of a sudden Brady and I heard a horn go off that sounded like it was 2 inches from our ears. Talking afterward, we both thought some semi was screaming down on us and not stopping. After our hearts stopped beating, we saw a train flying past us through some trees, and connected the train whistle with the noise. Just a small example of being the bottom of the food chain on America's roadways.

Aside from that, there was lots of singing southern songs, 'racing' up and down hills, and spitting water from our camel baks at each other. No moms, no other cars were around at the time. Today was also an unprecedented day for waving. We waved wildly at anyone who would even remotely look our way, and some even waved first! We also passed our fourth car for the trip, a tractor. We're keeping track.

Time to wrap up. We ate at a Sonic this evening. I'm pretty anti-fast-food, but we decided a Sonic needed to be experienced on this trip. In-N-Out will be the other fast food concession of the trip.

We were looking for a place to hide.. er.. camp near the Honda dealer, and we found a church with a huge lawn. Long story short, we were unable to get a hold of a pastor or anyone to clear us to sleep on the lawn, but someone at the church had some family that has graciously blessed us with a pool house to sleep in.

I don't want to make this sound all humdrum and regular for you. This is HUGE! This is the fifth night in a row that we have been given a place to sleep! I figured on 3 or four times for the trip, but this has been an incredible blessing. I've really only shared a few of the more poignant blessings with you, and that is just from one day.

We hope that you are excited to see how God is providing for Brady and I on our trip. We hope that you are encouraged to read about these things and that your faith is strengthened by our testimony to his faithfulness. Ours certainly is. We pray that it will prompt others to be emboldened to take courageous and faithful steps, trusting God for our daily bread.

If you are interested, an article was recently published in the New York Times about a raid on a brothel in India by IJM, the organization Brady and I visited earlier in our trip.
This isn't meant to be an afterthought.. this is the best news of the entire blog. Praise the Lord.

I will not boast in anything; no gifts, no power, no wisdom. But I will boast in Jesus Christ, his death and resurrection.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Great Smokies

Day 10--May 25, 2011
Lookout Mountain, Georgia
Written by Rev

Well here we are. Yesterday was spent scootering up and down the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains. This was very beautiful, but time-consuming. We would slowly stroll up the hills at a pace of 20-25 mph. Then, at the crest of the mountain, we would pick up speed and race down the other side at a rapid pace of 43 mph. Viking even leaned far into a turn and 'laid his bike down'. For all of you 'non-bikers' out there, this is a term that biker's use when they are going around a curve and their bike scrapes the ground. This is awesome and my friend Viking did this. Very impressive. We even attacked the curves so hard that a vehicle pulled over to let us pass. That was a first.

Anyway, after the mountains we were eagerly anticipating our thrill ride on the Tail of the Dragon. For those of you who don't know what that is, it is a road that is 11 miles long with 318 curves. This is a biker hit down in these parts. Bikers come from all over America just to ride this stretch of road coming from North Carolina to Tennessee. We filled up with gas about 20 minutes before the beginning of the Tail of the Dragon. As we were going down a mountain to the beginning, Wilberforce decided to backfire twice. We still don't know why, but it was pretty cool having a Honda Ruckus flying down a mountain and a little flame coming out of the muffler :)

As we pulled into the motel-gas station-store at the beginning of the Tail of the Dragon around 8:00 PM, we noticed Wilberforce making a clanking noise. This didn't seem right. This is where the story gets so great.

A man comes over and asked us if we needed help; of course we did! He told us to take it over to the group of guys outside this motel and they could take a look at it. I was extremely intimidated as we rode our little bikes over there for two reasons: a)I know nothing about mechanics and b)they were bikers. BUT my intimidation soon faded away as they welcomed us and within 15 minutes of us being there by the group--a man came up and asked where we have been staying. We told him where we had been, but had no clue where tonight we would stay. He told us to stay at the motel with him because he had 2 people in his room and there were 4 beds and 2 futons. We just smiled at each other. God is good.

We stayed there last night and were welcomed greatly by each of them. We got to listen to biker crash stories around the fire and were blessed with some burgers and good company. It was awesome. God is good.

We started early again this morning and rode the Trail of the Dragon. We decided it wasn't as exciting as we hoped due to the curves and mountains we had to take to get to that point in the road. But it was still cool to say that two Honda Ruckus' did that 11 miles stretch. We made our way to a Honda dealer in Athens, Tennessee to see if we could fix Wilberforce. The guys last night diagnosed the problem as the clutch, but the man at the shop took both clutches off and decided that it was the main bearing in the crank shaft. So that was devastating news because it takes a lot of time to fix this, therefore the labor is very expensive. But the good news was that we can still ride Wilberforce because it might go 20,000 more miles or just 20 miles. We decided to keep going for it with some minor repairs to Wilberforce.

Just before entering into Georgia, we stopped at a church and laid out in their lawn and took a nap. Very good idea since we were both exhausted. I told Viking that we shouldn't go into Georgia because of the mountains and we should stay away from them. But he insisted that there wasn't mountains in Georgia because where we were going was elevation of 600 feet. This was hilarious to me as we were going up and down the mountains.

That's not the best part. We were supposed to head south into Georgia a little ways and then head west, but Viking was turned around by an ambiguous map and we ended up by Covenant College, about 2 miles from the Tennessee border. So funny. We were both in high spirits for some reason as we pulled into the famous Rock City. We enjoyed a great view of 7 states, as well as the town from where we had just come.

We then asked the Starbucks man where a good place to eat was. He advised us to head to Hill City Pizza. So lo and behold we did. Great pizza, I might add. Anyway, as we were sitting there watching the news, we couldn't believe the terrible weather that we were about to have.

It seemed that we only had a couple of choices: We could ride through the night and then get a hotel, drive a little way and camp, or just camp where we were. Our pizza came, and we said a prayer about where we would stay and discernment on what to do. Within 1 minute, in an empty restaurant, a lady walks up to us after getting her order to go. She asked us about our trip, etc. and then asked where we were staying tonight. We replied that we had no idea. She said she would try and find us a place to sleep, she took our number and called us back 20 minutes later telling us to come to her place. God is good.

So I am writing this from the comfort of a home, praising God for answered prayer. Also, we drove through two towns that had been devastated by tornadoes. So praise God for this home and family tonight.

We have been extremely blessed on this trip so far. We could be headed into bad weather these next couple of days as we head to Arkansas, but we are trusting God to guide us, keep us safe and help us discern what to do.

All Viking and Rev can say is that God is good and we cannot thank him enough for all that He has done for us.

To God Be the Glory.

A Potential Problem

We are in Athens, Tennessee right now, a little northeast of Chattanooga. Yesterday was a very mountainous day for us as we rode over the Blue Ridge and Great Smoky Mountains. Nearing the Tennessee border, Wilberforce (Jonathan's Ruckus) began to have a rattle. I'll save the details for later, but the rattle is pretty involved. It's a crankshaft bearing. I don't know what that entails, but it would basically be cheaper to buy a new Ruckus rather than fix it.

So, we are sitting in a shop right now as Wilberforce gets a new rear tire (still not holding air), new brakes, a new front clutch, and a new set of weights. We have no idea how long Wilberforce will run, but we will press on. It runs normal, but the problem is purty (when in Rome) disconcerting. I know it's a strange request, but please continue to uphold these machines with prayer. They get a couple weeks of flatlands here, so that will be good for them. Our roughest terrain is still to come, though. Wilberforce and Harriet have been very effective in their task of inciting conversations, and we pray that it will continue.

God is good. All the time.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Go West, Young Men

Day 8 - May 23, 2011
York, SC
Written By Viking

What a weekend! Or last blog update found us in Newport News, VA, and we are now in York, South Carolina. Saturday ended up being our longest day of travel thus far, with over 340 miles being covered. Don't laugh. That is a long way on a scooter.

We made it to the outer banks of the North Carolina coast, traveling down the Hatteras national seashore. Saturday night we spent the evening in a gazebo about 200 feet from the Atlantic Ocean. Before going to bed, though, Brady had to drag me along the beach as he searched for seashells with an almost eerie level of excitement. It was very strange, but fun. He held a shell up to his ear and claimed to hear the ocean. We were up the next morning at 4am to ensure that we caught a ferry back to mainland North Carolina. The sunrise was spectacular. The water was like glass as the sun began to break over the ocean horizon. It was a good morning.

On our second ferry-ride Brady laid down next to our scooters to get some sleep. He hadn't brought an air mattress on the trip, and he was growing pretty sore from the repeated nights of camping. We kept on forgetting, but we had been meaning to stop at a camping store to get a small air mattress for him. As Brady was laying there a gentleman who he had spoken with about the trip came up to him and asked him if he wanted an air mattress. With only 40 minutes or so left in the trip, Brady said he'd be fine. The man said, "No, I mean to keep for the trip." The man insisted that Brady take it, and gave him an air mattress with a pump. As Brady told me we were both laughing pretty hard. God is good.

We found a church to attend later Sunday morning. It was good to expand our worship experiences. The energy in the church was indescribable. Ask us about it sometime. Further travel on Sunday brought us down the coast of North Carolina to a home near Wilmington. The previous day I was made aware that an old family friend from our California days was living there. I called him to see if we could touch base and catch up a little, as we have both been in the Marine Corps for six years, but with vastly different career paths. We ended up being the grateful guests at he and his wife's home. He provided us with a McDonald's inspired meal that was incredible, as well as a shower, a comfortable place to sleep, and our first washer and dryer of the trip.

We set forth early this morning to begin our westward trek across the U.S. We have a church this Sunday over 1,000 miles away, so we needed to make some serious headway. It was a great day of travel. We're getting accustomed to longer stretches of riding. The temperature hit 90 degrees today, which was fantastic.That's a 45 degree jump from a week ago. Our vitamin d levels have been going through the roof. Near the end of our day of travel I was beginning to wonder if my tire was a little low on air. I popped it on my trip last summer but the plug has been holding for almost 5,000 miles. God is good. As I put air in my tire we discovered that I had a nail in that same tire that was quickly leaking air. Brady was masterful with our tire plug kit, and we were back on the road quickly, my back tire now plugged twice. I don't know how long that tire had a nail in it, but we thought it was pretty fortuitous that we discovered the potentially crippling leak at a gas station with an air pump. God is good.

I am typing this blog entry in the living room of the home of my Grandpa and his wife, Grace. For the second day in a row we have a house to sleep in, home-cooked food to enjoy, and great company to enjoy. God is good.

Tomorrow we will be heading out, probably passing through Tennessee and down into Georgia. It looks like if we dive south for the week we may be able to avoid the storms that are crushing the midwest right now. We will see.

It has been really neat to see the cultural shift that we have experienced in just a week of travel. People act differently, speak differently, worship God differently, but we (Michigan folks) are less than a days drive away from this part of the country.

All over the east coast people have been very excited about the trip and very encouraging. If you are reading this as someone who has been directed to this website through an interaction with us on the trip, know that we are praying for you, as are many other people.

If you are praying for us, please pray for continued opportunities to speak with people. Pray for meaningful conversations.
Pray for God to work in any and every medium available to impact people.
Pray for the work of International Justice Mission. (You may be able to guess what inspired our trip title) We are still thrilled to have been able to join them for prayer last week, and are encouraged by the work God is doing through them.
Pray for us, that we will seize the surprisingly minimal free time we have in our days to be productive and God-honoring with our thoughts and actions. In that same vein we will try to be more faithful with our blog updates. It's a thrill to reflect on our time, seeing how God has been providing for us. It will continue. I am convinced it has just begun.

For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Storm Chasers

Day 5- May 20
South of Fredriksburg, Virginia
By: Rev

Last update was from a hotel, this time we are camped out in the hills of Virginia--seriously. We spent about half day in Gettysburg taking in the sites and sitting in a coffee shop due to rain. Then we had to make a quick exit because there was a cop looking at our bikes, ready to give us tickets for parking on the sidewalk. Harriet and Wilberforce(our bikes) would have none of that, so Viking moved them to a better location and then we took off to Washington D.C.
I have never been to D.C. before, so I was extremely looking forward to it. There was many sites I wanted to see, but most of all I was really looking forward to meeting with an anti-human trafficking organization: International Justice Mission (IJM).
As we were traveling to D.C. we came across a minor league baseball game, so we drove right up to the outer fence and looked through the fence and perceived an alright game between the Potomac Orioles and the Frederick Keys. I even found a baseball signed by the one and only great baseball player: Babe Ruth. Ask Viking about it.
For those of you who have traveled into D.C. know that the traffic is terrible. Well it certainly is extremely interesting when you have a Honda Ruckus flying through down town Washington D.C. But before then, we had the extremely nice privilege of meeting two people that many people don't like to meet on a regular basis: cops. We asked one for directions and he ended up being a Pastor as well, very nice and helpful man. Then the other one was because we decided to ride the shoulder to let some faster moving traffic go around us. As we were riding the shoulder, there was a cop parked in our way, so we moved back into traffic and low and behold his lights went flashing and he didn't look to happy. We still have no idea why he pulled us over, but we gave him a business card and told him what we were doing and we moved on without any ticket.
So D.C. The place that I have never been and wanted to get to for a long time. It was awesome seeing different memorials and monuments all while cruising around downtown. When we saw some sites and cruised around we decided to eat at subway. After that, our mission was to find somewhere to sleep. A very hard mission to do when you are in a huge city. Of course it started to downpour making it 4 days with 3 of those filled with rain. So we put on our rain gear and headed into a parking garage--debating whether or not we should sleep there, but decided it wouldn't be very good.
We ditched the parking garage and headed out into the great D.C. We found a park, but it said 'no camping'. After talking with a cop and having him say we better not stay in the city, we talked with a homeless woman to find the best place to camp, she gave us some wise advice, so we took the advice and moved on to Fletcher's Boat Landing along the Potomac River. It was rather a very nice place to camp I might say.
It wasn't a very restful night, but we managed to get some shut eye. We woke to many people biking. After packing up and rain proofing our gear, we headed to Arlington National Cemetery. This place was amazing for me to see. We saw other sites and then moved on around 2:00 after eating lunch at Iwo Jima memorial.
Cruising down to Richmond, VA was our next goal, but soon shattered when we realized that traffic was terrible. It was terrible traffic the whole time to just south of Fredericksburg--where we are now.
We needed to find a place to sleep and I suggested we go to the church we just passed and ask them if we could either stay inside or on their lawn. As I walked to the front door I opened it and immediately saw many people dressed up sitting around tables so I frantically shut the door and proceeded back outside to the parking lot. Most likely it was a dress rehearsal for wedding and most likely they didn't want to bother with two smelly bikers.
We saw signs for a KOA campground but didn't like the fact of spending $30 just to sleep. So we found an abandoned house. But I told Viking I didn't want to sleep there with the dead dear carcass, many shotgun shells, a family picture, and a conch and chair. So we decided to camp up on the hill which is awesome by the way. It is that time to go to bed though. Until next time!
Praise God and to Him be all the Glory, Honor and Praise!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Hitting our Stride

Day 3
May 18, 2011
Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
By: Viking (Jonathan)

Before this trip began I told Brady that there would probably be a time in the summer when we would have multiple days of rain and everything we have would be soaked. We knew it would happen, but we were not expecting it to be days one, two, and three of our summer. I have been reading in I Peter 1:6-7, and I have been rolling that around in my head in relation to the trip; perhaps this weather is a test of our resolve to praise and glorify Christ. Except instead of fire, we get rain. We still have no regrets, and God has affirmed the necessity of the trip to Brady and I already in these first few days.

Much has happened since the post yesterday. We were soaked. For several hours we were battered with driving rain. We made it to Akron, Ohio yesterday afternoon and drank a lot of coffee. Around 7pm at the diner I asked Brady, "If you were on this trip by yourself, what would you do in this situation?" He said that he would dry his clothes and keep going. That's exactly what I was thinking, minus the whole dry clothes deal. The Marine Corps didn't teach me common sense, but Brady is training me well. We discovered a laundromat a block from the diner and dried all of our clothes. It was dark by the time we had our warm, dry clothes on, but it had stopped raining. We decided to go for the Pennsylvania border, which was our original goal for the day. Around 11pm we held a small, dry celebration at the Pennsylvania border. We didn't know where we would sleep for the night, though, so we just kept going. As we were cruising along we saw a great photo-op by a sign that advertised a place called Brady's run. As we were grabbing a photo, we noticed a rather glorious-looking meadow with a walking path. After screaming along the walking path and exploring a little while, we set up camp by the road.

We woke up in the middle of a thunderstorm and scrambled to a bathroom nearby. The rain let off just long enough for us to pack up camp and hit the wet, wet road. We skirted the Northeast side of metropolitan Pittsburgh. In Tarenteum, PA we saw sunlight. We felt the warmth of the sun on our worthless rain suits. (Our rain coats seemed more absorbent than repellent.) We stopped to look into some better waterproof gear for our trip at Gatto Cycle Shop. The sales department kindly gave us both free t-shirts, and we both found some goggles to keep the rain and cold wind out of our eyes. As we headed east we watched a thunderstorm wreaking havoc where we were headed. As God's grace would have it, however, we turned east and rode through the only non-life-threatening weather we could see. To our right, left, and to our rear were black clouds, but we rode forward into white cloudy sky. Praise God.

A sobering detour of our day was the United flight 93 memorial in rural Pennsylvania. Neither Brady nor I realized that our route would take us by there, and it was a very wise decision to visit. Sobering is the only word I can think of to recall standing over a field where a plane was flown into the earth. As we were in a small room at the memorial a torrent of rain passed through for about 10 minutes. As we prepared to leave the rain stopped. It has been little things like this with the weather that have made Brady and I pause for a moment and laugh. The few dry moments to pack our things in the morning, the column of good weather across Pennsylvania, the shelter from the 10-minute storm, and now a cheap hotel room to sit in while a thunderstorm rages outside our walls.

We arrived in Gettysburg in the late afternoon. We circled the round-a-bout in town 10 times or so and looked around a bit before the sun began to set. As we left the Lincoln Diner it began raining. A few events played out that made us decide that a hotel was a fine idea. A friend of Brady's had even graciously provided us with the means for a hotel room for such a time as this.

This weather has been having an adverse effect on our personal productiveness for the past few days. Journaling, reading, thinking, standing, or unclipping our helmets have all been made very difficult.

Despite the weather, though, God has blessed us with already countless opportunities to share with people what we are doing, and why. Wilberforce and Harriet have been wonderfully performing their duty of catching people's attention and prompting them to inquire about our trip as well as our sanity. God again deserves and merits all praise and worship for this.

By the way, if you are someone we have met on the trip and who received a card from us or saw our blog address, THANK YOU so much for taking an interest in what we are doing. Every person we have met so far has been a true joy to get to know just a little bit.

Brady is passed out, and I should be. Lord-willing tomorrow will see us into one or two more states, as well as some more sobering sight-seeing.

"For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen."

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Wind. Rain. Cold. Life is Good. God is Great.

Day 2-May 17, 2011
Norwalk, Ohio
By Rev (Brady)

As we have finished Day 1, I am begin to wonder what Jonathan sees as 'fun' in using mopeds as a way of transportation over many miles. Let me explain.

As we pulled out of the Mulder residence on Monday around 8:30 AM there was much excitement from Jonathan and I. We were screaming and gave each other a high five while driving down 76th street. We filled up with gas and headed toward M-37. We soon reached there and realized that it was rather a chilly day outside. So we stopped in Hastings and warmed up and used the restroom. In was extremely cold. We kept going and stopped in Charlotte, MI where we decided to find a coffee shop. We asked a nice gentlemen who was in the Army for 27 years. After talk about what we were doing he offered to buy us coffee. We sat down in a nearby coffee shop and were blessed to have talked with many people while we were there! We explained our trip to many and even were able to talk to a local pastor who was very concerned with seeking justice in the world today.
We left after staying some time there and then headed to Ohio! We made it just over the border and decided to grab something to eat. Eating at a local diner we made friends with a very nice couple who offered their grass for us to sleep on--what a blessing! They blessed us, as well as their friends from South Carolina, with great conversations, a warm barn, grass to sleep on and many other ways. God has been so good to us thus far.
We are currently in a coffee shop waiting on the rain to stop, but we are anticipating much rain and some storms which shall be coming. Actually, I am peering out the window, watching Jonathan struggle to cover Harriet and Wilberforce with a tarp. It is windy and rainy and I am laughing because it just is funny. I should probably go help him, but I don't want to leave the ipad unattended or the keyboard because we know the endless possibilities of what could happen.
I now know what Jonathan sees in the long distance moped trips--friendly people who are encouraging and helpful to those who aren't locals. Immediately we are spotted and welcomed into coffee shops or restaurants. God is good and I love it so far. It has been awesome sharing with those we come in contact with about what we are doing and why we are doing it.
It has been such a blessing so far and I cannot wait to see what God will be doing!
We appreciate your prayers and support thus far; all the emails, Facebook posts, texts or phone calls. We cannot say thank you enough for everything!
To God Be The Glory

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Sunday's Speaking Schedule

Tomorrow, May 15, the Moped Justice Mission will be speaking at three churches.

At 9:30am we will be at Heritage Christian Reformed in Byron Center

At 10:30am we will be at Whitneyville Bible Church northeast of Caledonia

At 12:15 we will be at Calvary Church on the beltline in Grand rapids

These will all be approximately 15 minute presentations. The first two will be in the main service, and Calvary Church will be at a college and career lunch. It would be great to see you and share with you what God has placed on our humbled hearts for the summer!

Friday, May 13, 2011

T-minus 2 days trip update

(county road F, 30 miles northwest of Beloit, WI)

today's entry by: Jonathan

Brady and I are together again. More importantly, though, Wilberforce and Harriet (our scooters) have finally met. They get along great, although Harriet has a bit more spring in her step. Wilberforce just turned over 5,000 miles today while Harriet is pushing 300. That may play a small role in the difference.

I departed my home at 5:45am on Thursday morning and dropped off my keys to my friend who is sub-leasing my apartment for the summer, enabling me to afford the trip. I also decided that it was the best decision to drop off my travel-size guitar with him, as it was too much of a parachute and hazard. Lots of off-key acapella singing for the summer, I suppose.

Southeast of St. Paul the clouds began to expectorate upon me, so it was time to don my rainsuit for the first time. Not a promising start, but a reality of the trip. The rain passed as I crossed a bridge into Wisconsin and the clouds began to burn off. I began to shed warming layers, hoping to get a little sun. Turns out that a few hours of sun can burn the pale right off of you. Aloe may be added to the gear list.

Brady was gracious enough to drive to western Chicago to pick me and Wilberforce up in a truck, saving me a day of travel and the migrane-inducing experience of riding a scooter through Chicago. The scooter's travel time was grossly underestimated, though, so we linked  up in Beloit, Wisconsin. We grabbed a quick bite to eat and made our way home after embarassing ourselves trying to pick Wilberforce up into the truck.

Today has been logistical work of arranging our loads and ordering some extra parts for the scooters. They are both running great, for which we are grateful. Already interest is being generated and we are able to at least briefly share with people why we are doing it.

One final note: we will be speaking at three different churches in the Grand Rapids area this Sunday, May 15. They will all be in the morning. If you live in the area and are interested in coming, we will be adding a post tomorrow that will provide the times and locations.


Sunday, May 1, 2011

Trip Planning Update

I just posted a little bit about our travel plans, but I also want to offer a brief update of our trip planning process. I (Jonathan) have decided to write in the first person, as it is much easier to write that way. Brady will also write on the blog throughout the summer, and we speak on each others behalf.

We've been ordering some of the final supplies the journey. We ordered something like 32 individual laminated roadmaps, which was just funny. Brady designed some prayer cards that present a good summary of our trip, as well as ways to contact us. I ordered a small travel guitar, but I'm having a hard time finding a way to rig it to Wilberforce. Signs for the scooters were designed and ordered last week. The purchase of Sojourner and her accessories will be happening in the next several days. Throttle locks, zip-ties, windshields, milk crates, backpacks, rain suits, helmets, duct tape, sheepskin seat covers, tiny tents, even tinier sleeping bags, harmonica's.. these are all vital supplies for your non-standard scooter adventure.

This week the University of Minnesota paper, the Minnesota Daily, ran an article on our trip, which then made it to the Associated Press as a news bulletin. It has received a little more attention than we anticipated, including an interview request from a journalist in Taiwan! We humbly praise God, though, and pray that it will stir people's hearts to investigate what is prompting us to embark on this trip.

We also began a Facebook page, which can be found if you search mopedjusticemission on the Facebook website. Or by clicking on the link on the right column of the blog. It's simply another medium of keeping in contact with people as we travel.

Brady graduated from Kuyper College on Friday. Congratulations Brady! I'm excited to see Brady bring his gift and love for preaching into our summer together. I am finishing my school semester and my Marine Corps career in the next week and a half. It seems to be a perfect storm of high-stress events converging in these couple weeks for us, but by God's grace we are finishing (and beginning!) strong.

Something I've really been wanting to share with people is how God has been providing for some financial needs in some special ways. We have both taken different approaches to financing the trip, which has been a cool dynamic to bring together in ministry. Brady has been raising support from his church, friends and family, and I have been... liquidating my possessions. We have been able to see people excited to financially support our ministry idea, and we've also been able to see God very clearly working to bring the funds in that we need. It is a tremendous affirmation to know that God is mindful of our ambitions. Just yesterday Brady and I were laughing on the phone at how God is going to provide for us over the summer. We really don't know, but we are confident that it will happen. Brady had a dream the other day that we worked for two days at a McDonald's because we ran out of gas money. I guess I wouldn't be surprised..

The different facets of planning (raising and saving funds, petitioning churches, logistics for traveling) have been such a growing experience for both of us in relying on God, praying for wisdom and leading in a completely foreign endeavor. Neither of us have been able to find a book that lays out how you ride a scooter thousands of miles, let alone how you incorporate that into a ministry. However, we both see fruitful opportunities that this unique ministry will bear, and we are EXCITED.

I depart from Minneapolis in just 11 days to link up with Brady in Grand Rapids, and we begin our trip on May 16. We will be updating this blog before we leave with some specific prayer requests that Brady and I have for ourselves as well as the people we meet. As always, we thank you for you support and interest in our lives, especially over these next months!
Soli Deo Gloria.

Some More Trip and Travel Details

Some people are wondering where we will be traveling. We will never have an exact route planned, which is part of the beauty of our mode of travel. We do, however, have several destinations that we definitely will plan to pass through.
They are:
Grand Rapids, MI (we will begin and end here)
Washington D.C.
Quantico, VA
Tail of the Dragon, TN (insanely curvy road. 318 curves in 11 miles)
Little Rock, AK
Grand Canyon, AZ
Capistrano Beach, CA
Los Angeles, CA
San Francisco, CA
Santa Rosa, CA
Seattle, WA
Vancouver, BC
Fargo, ND
Minneapolis, MN

Now, the states we plan to touch are a little more vast. Be advised, though, that just because we may come within 100 miles of you doesn't necessarily mean we're close. A 100-mile detour and visit would cost us 1 day of travel time.

 A few questions and comments have arisen about our mode of travel, which I would like to take the opportunity to answer.

That's a scooter, not a moped.
I know, and for you die-hard moped enthusiasts, I'm sorry. Brady and I spent quite a while deciding on a good title for the trip.  We realized that the word 'moped' is more quickly associated with small-engine vehicles. We wanted to emphasize the unique mode of travel, and using the moped term was the best way we saw to do that. Also, for what it's worth, our 'scooters' are legally referred to as mopeds, due to their engine size being under 49cc's. We tend to use the words 'scooter' and 'moped' interchangeably, so please forgive us.

Why not ride a motorcycle?
So many reasons. Motorcycle trips are normal. Motorcycles can ride on interstates. Motorcycles are fast. Motorcycles are more expensive. Riding a moped forces you to slow down. Riding a moped better serves our purpose of raising awareness of human trafficking. It's not uncommon to see a motorcyclist on a trip, but the moped raises eyebrows and begins great conversation, opening doors for Brady and I to share what God has placed on our hearts.

Why aren't you using a gps?
Many valid reasons for this answer, as well. Perhaps the most tangible reason is because we don't own one. On my last scooter trip I realized that the gps was not a good tool to utilize. One, it always directs you to an interstate, which we cannot ride on. Two, it draws us within, making us less dependent on others for help.We desire to interact with people as much as possible, and people are remarkably eager to help you find a place to sleep or a nice local diner. Three, road maps allow us to be much more flexible with our planning ahead. We can look at the entire map and see what problems we may encounter ( interstate, ferry, toll bridge, dirt road, etc.)

You're crazy.
Yes, yes we are. You should try it sometime. It may change your life.