Written by: Bill Black
One of the great rewards for riders on the Fuller Center Bike Adventure is the opportunity to meet the people at the churches that support us along the way. While the level of involvement by the community varies from church to church, we have deep appreciation for ever
y church that opens its doors to us. At some churches, mostly in smaller communities, the pastor simply hands us the key, for which we are very grateful. Others that are able, offer more robust support, including meals, showers and other amenities. The church in Albuquerque fell into the latter category. The Second Presbyterian Church of Albuquerque was recruited by our team leader, Joel Derksen. The church had no previous relationship with the Fuller Center, but when Joel “cold-called” them, they responded enthusiastically.
When we arrived, we were greeted by one of the church elders, Ruth Montoya. She invited the riders to set up sleeping arrangements anywhere in the building. She showed us the four showers that were available to us. And she offered refreshments to the weary riders straggling in after a long, hot, final climb into Albuquerque. The church was like an oasis.
Soon, some of Ruth’s fellow church leaders began arriving with covered dishes for supper. But they didn’t just drop them off, they stayed to chat with the bikers. They had prepared a special “New Mexico Meal” which means that the tortillas remain flat, rather than rolled, and the rice, beans and meat are layered on top. It was spicy and delicious. But they truly showed their commitment to service in that three church elders and a deacon actually served our supper and provided advice and running commentary on the best way to enjoy their home cooked meal.
When we sat down to eat, they joined us for a lively discussion in which we shared what our ride was about and the mission of the Fuller Center. And they told us all about the origins of the Second Presbyterian Church, as well as the broader community around the church. Particularly fascinating was Elder Ella Parragas’ stories from her childhood growing up in Los Alamos, the high-security “city” where the atomic bomb was developed.
The churches where we stay along the ride give what they can. For most of us riders, we never really know what we will encounter at the end of a day’s riding. That is part of the fun and the adventure. But many of the best days are those where can truly get to know our hosts, learn from them, share our stories and make connections that would be impossible in our daily lives outside the Fuller Center Bike Adventure.