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TRIP 2005

Update #28 - July 31st
Arlington, Virginia - 9319 miles (14,910 KM)



I woke up quite early this morning so I thought that I would take the time to put the thoughts down that have been racing through my head the past couple of days. Hopefully, this will get my mind to rest so that I can sleep tonight. I'm glad that I've got the chance to take a few more days off the road since my body still needs the rest.

It's been an interesting past couple of days. Last Tuesday, I rode from Exeter to Davis, Pennsylvania. I had a decent night camping out in the back portion of the Episcopal Church but it wasn't a restful night since I was across the road from a major highway intersection. I got on the road around 7:30 a.m. The ride was okay but the heat was really bad. The temperature was around 97 degrees but with the humidity the heat index was around 105 degrees. I took a lot of breaks whenever possible and drank what seemed to be several gallons of water. I made sure that I filled up all of the water bottles as often as possible.

It was about 7 p.m. when I got to the outskirts of Delta. I was a few miles away from the Maryland State Line. There wasn't much in Delta along the highway save for a restaurant and a church, Calvary Chapel, which had some activity. I didn't think that I could go on into Maryland and then find a place to camp out. I decided to pull into the church parking lot to see if there was somebody there who could give me permission for me to maybe sleep in the church for the night.

The first person who met me was a lady (it turned out that she was one of the assistant pastor's wives). She wasn't that friendly. After a little prodding, she finally found somebody who I could talk to since the pastor wasn't there. There was actually a meeting going on for a support ministry for people struggling with chemical dependency. The leader of the meeting, Tim, came out to talk to me and he offered me the chance to stay with him and his wife for the night. They actually lived outside of Norrisville, Maryland about 25 minutes away from the church.

Tim and his wife had a pretty good place in a valley next to a fast moving stream. The main structure of the house was built in the 1770's out of squared-off logs. At one time, it used to be a cider press. Before Tim bought it, it had been turned into a bed and breakfast but I'm not sure how much business it had since it was out of the way and on a dirt and stone road with steep hills. The pavement had ended about a mile and a half from the road. The house had all of the modern admenities including satellite TV.

I didn't sleep to well so Tim offered me the chance to stay with them for a couple of days. The heat wave was supposed to break the next day because a cold front was to come through the state in the late afternoon and there were to be some thunderstorms. Tim also wanted me to go to the Wednesday night service.

There's not much good to say about the Wednesday night service. I wasn't really impressed with it. It was a typical non-denominational service. The main church was started in the late 1960's by Chuck Smith in Costa Mesa, CA. This branch was basically one of the thousand affiliates around the world. It had been started in 1996.

I guess the feelings that I had for the church could have also come from it's facilities. The building before the church took it over was an athletic club. There was a handball court, which wasn't that sound-proofed, right off the main room. There was a snack bar (now used as a coffee bar) and a bookstore with the majority of the books written by Chuck Smith or one of his followers.

The main room was rectangle without much adornment. There was about two hundred stackable portable chairs in rows. Up front was a stage with an member praise band that had several different guitars, a full drum set, and a pretty big electric keyboard. There was no usual Christian symbols found in churches (cross, Christian flag, or even a U.S. flag). Instead there was the stylized symbol of a dove representing the Holy Spirit coming down from Heaven. There was about a hundred or so people in attendance.

The church was a classic "replication" and "proclamation" church without no signs of it being a "demonstration" church. There were no collection boxes for food or other items to be distributed to the needy. No special announcements for mission work was posted on the bulletin boards.

The first twenty minutes of the service was inspirational "feel-good" songs led by the praise team. The words were flashed on the front wall using a power-point projector. There were a couple of short prayers that were actually lead-ins to other songs.

When it came time for the pastor to speak, a portable pulpit was brought forward. There were a few announcements shared and then the pastor started into about an hour-long discussion on one of the chapters in Isaiah. The sermon was well-over twenty pages long. I wasn't really impressed with it. There was a slant to the verses. Matthew 25 was shared but instead of the emphasis on showing compassion to those in need it was construed that the true award of ever-lasting life was to be given to only those who were helpers and defenders of Israel.

After the sermon, there was one song sung, a call for people to accept the L-RD (which nobody accepted), an announcement that people would be available for prayer, and then a closing prayer. After the service, people congregated around the coffee bar for about a couple of hours socializing. I was left out. Nobody took the time to time to welcome me or even talk to me. There was one person who shook my hand and that was the greeter. There wasn't no place for me to sit by myself so I found a place against the wall and sat on the floor. It was quite noisy. Kids were running around.

Before we finally left around 10 p.m., Tim found me and we talked for a little bit. I told him about my concerns. I told him that I didn't really feel welcome there and I really didn't feel the "spirit" there. He told me that he had felt the same way. To him, the church was "luke-warm" and there was no real drive for the church members. It seemed to him that people were there for just the socialization. Tim was there since he was involved with the chemical dependency support group.

Tim gave me an interesting comment that I've heard before in several different forms. Tim said to me that he felt that one of the callings or reasons why I was out on the road with my ministry was to be a "thermometer" to feel the "spiritual temperature" of the different churches that I come across. Maybe, I am out here to test the churches to see if they are really "on fire" or just going through the motions. The L-RD did say in the Bible that He would through out those churches who are either cold or luke-warm (fence straddlers).

I didn't do much on Thursday but do laundry, dry out my gear, and get some rest. I got into a book of the collection of the Chronicles of Narnia. At least with the passing of the cold-front, the temperature during the afternoon was down into the upper seventies so there was a drop of about twenty degrees.

Friday morning, Tim loaded the bike up and my gear in his truck and took me to the outskirts of Hereford. In doing so, he saved me about 2 hours of riding up and down hills in Northern Maryland. I rode west to Westminster and then headed south on MD 97.

I got into Olney around 6:30 p.m. From where I came into town, I only saw one church, the Baptist church. I saw some cars in the back parking lot. There was a sign telling about the up-coming Vacation Bible School so I thought that people were getting ready for it. I hoped to maybe be able to find a place inside since there was the possibility of thunderstorms coming through the area later in the evening. There were six guys having a Bible study. This was a regular event on Friday night. One of the guys offered to go out to a local McDonald's to get me supper. After he came back, I shared my testimony with the group and told them what I was doing.

There was nobody available to give me permission to stay in the church since it was on an alarm system. The pastor was out of town coming back from an overseas mission trip. One of the guys suggested that I should get on the subway, go into downtown Washington D.C., and stay at one of the shelters. There was no way I was going to do that. Finally, I was given permission to camp out in back at the edge of the church property under some trees so that I might I have some cover from the rain. A message would be left with the local police telling them that I had permission to camp out.

I had a decent night camping out despite the rain. The tent stayed dry. I got on the road around 8:30 a.m. yesterday morning. I had about a 14 mile ride to Washington, D.C. I stopped to check out the front of the White House. I was able to watch the presidential helicopter land on the South Lawn of the White House. The president was coming back from the nearby National Boy Scout Jamboree. I walked passed the new memorial on the Mall. From the Memorial Bridge, it was a short ride to my friend's house south of Arlington Cemetery and west of the Pentagon.

I'll be here today and tomorrow. Tomorrow, I plan to go back into Washington, D.C. so that I could check out the newest museum to the Native American. It was under-construction when I was here in D.C. last back in 2003.

From here in Arlington, Virginia, I'll be heading SW to Asheville, North Carolina through Roanoke, Virginia and then south to Americus, Georgia. I hope to be in Americus in about 2-3 weeks. I'll probably be in Americus for maybe a week or ten days staying with a friend who I worked with at the international headquarters of Habitat for Humanity.

After the stop in Americus, I might be heading back to the Midwest (Ft. Wayne, Indiana) area. I hope to be able to take some time off the road to help and elderly friend there. This might give the needed time off the road to write completely or start to write the book that everybody wants me to do.

I'll try and post and update as often as I can if my plans change.




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