Thoughtfulness and Consideration

Written by: Rolff Christensen

Today, as we rode from Woodinvillle to Skykomish, WA, my chain caught between the top sprocket on my bike cassette and my wheel, destroying three spokes. Within minutes, a support vehicle (driven by Jessica) rescued me from a narrow road shoulder to ferry me safely to our next overnight—the Masonic Lodge in bustling Skykomish (pop. 198). Within minutes after riding in safely to their destination, our bicycle mechanics (Matt, Ben, and Connor) set to work on repairing my damaged metal steed. Unfortunately, without the necessary parts, even these “Rag Men” (see this morning’s devotion: Walter Wangerin, Jr.’s “The Rag Man’s Story”) could not get me ready to ride tomorrow. One of our group members has already offered me to ride her bicycle the day after tomorrow, from Sunnyslope to Wilbur, WA (ninety-six miles). She’s already done this section; so, I wonder if she knows something I don’t?

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Various Paths and People

Written by: John Johnson 

One of the things I really enjoy about the Fuller Center Bike Adventure is a chance to see the returning teammates, the staff, and the new faces that are venturing out for the first time. It’s really exciting to be around the passion of the previous members, but it’s also quite exhilarating to see those who are just beginning.Continue reading

Personal Growth Through Service

Written by: Lauryn Kostopoulos

I first joined the Fuller Center Bike Adventure in the summer of 2014. I had just finished my freshman year of college and my friend Michael and I wanted to do something different and crazy over the summer. We went back and forth trying to come up with ideas until I jokingly said “I’ve always wanted to bike across the country,” and somehow, the idea stuck.Continue reading

Final Ride

Last night at Parkway Baptist Church (the  second church named Parkway Baptist we visited) in Kosciusko, Mississippi, we were treated to the creative song writing of Tony (one of our riders), who penned words about our trip on Natchez Trace to the tune of “Oh Susannah”.  “Oh Tom Weber, oh don’t you cry for me, cause I’m rolling down the Natchez Trace from Nashville, Tennessee, etc., etc.”.  Some of us also viewed the movie “Selma” about the early 1960’s civil rights struggles of African Americans that culminated in the March on Selma, Alabama and the aftermath.

Today we had terrific weather for our final day of riding.  It started out at around 60 degrees at our 8:30 departure and rose to almost 70 degrees by mid-afternoon.   The wind was to our back and side for most of the day.  The route was fairly flat as we made our way toward our final destination – Tougaloo College in Jackson.  We are staying in their gymnasium, which can easily accommodate our 40+ people.  Millard Fuller (Founder of Fuller Center for Housing) created a scholarship  for Tougaloo, which is a Christian college that primarily serves local African American students.  This evening we had a wonderful dinner at the home of the president of Tougaloo college.

IMG_3813Finally, I would like to say a hearty thank you to a group of people who have made our bike rides much more enjoyable than they would be with their absence – our SAG support people.  SAG stands for support and gear – which only partly describes the wonderful service these individuals provide.  We had two support vans with trailers.   The SAG team begins the day by ensuring all the luggage and drink/food supply is properly stored in the trailers for transporting to the rest stops and the day’s final destination.  They also do any last minute shopping need for the day.  One van and trailer goes to the first rest stop, while the second van and trailer go to the second rest stop (Rest stops are typically around 20 miles apart).  Once at the rest stop, they unload and set up the drinks and food so the riders have easy access.  When the last riders are through, they pack everything up and move to either the final destination or another rest stop.  The SAG team also does a lot of the shopping for food that we will cook for our meals, when not provided by the host church.  They also do many other little things for riders each day that are much appreciated.  So a big THANK YOU to Cindy, Mary Rae, Melanie, Paul and Sue – our terrific SAG team.

-Jeff Gabriel

A Little Water


After a great day volunteering in Greenwood, Mississippi the Fuller Center Spring ride anxiously watched the weather forecast to determine if we would have a dry 74 mile ride to Kosciusko, Mississippi or a wet day. Despite our requests for divine intervention with dry weather, Friday broke with heavy rains and the promise for a wet weather day.

The group headed out after another great breakfast from Parkway Baptist in Houston under rain and turned south. The group was cold and soaked but pressed on with an odd collection of grocery bag shoe covers and garbage bag leg warmers.

I too was rather dour like the weather outside but as the day progressed I started to become aware of the wonder that was around me on the ride. It started with the 8 mile long trail of destruction wrought on the landscape around the Nantchez Trace by a tornado in 2011. You could sense the sheer power that had roared through the area 5 years ago with trees snapped in half and bare like chopsticks.

We then moved into the wooded section north of Kosciusko and the woods swallowed the Trace as we climbed and descended the rolling hills. The ever-present drizzle turned into a hard rainfall and the woods erupted with a cacophony of sound. As I rode quietly I focused on the sounds of creation around me; the gentle roar of rain hitting leaves in the forest, the soft patter of drops hitting the bed of needles on the forest floor, the cascade of water in roadside streams, the swish of water rooster-tailing off the bikes, and the rhythmic breathing of my riding buddies as we rolled along. During that rain I realized how the thing we had dreaded that morning (the rain) helped me to be that much more aware of the wonders of creation around me.


I was soaked and tired but in that moment every bit alive and amazed by God’s beauty and the gift that he gave me on this very special ride from Houston to Kosciusko. We often say the Bike Adventure changes you. Sometimes all it requires is just a little water.

 

-Mike Rutherford

Baptist Town Build Day!

DSC_0613Today was our second build day of the trip.  After a wonderful southern breakfast prepared by the men at Parkway Baptist Church in Houston, Mississippi, we loaded into the vans and were transported to Greenwood, MS to Baptist Town neighborhood.  This is one of the first areas where freed blacks lived in Greenwood in the 1850’s.   While there, we worked on a Community Center cleaning up outside, staining the railing, built a porch for a reading program, and many other odd fix up jobs.  Another group of our team went to a home and worked to repair a floor and re-screen a porch for a homeowner in the neighborhood.

This was a special day for me in so many ways. I have ridden this same ride for four years in a row now and each one is different because of the other people riding in our group.  This year, my youngest daughter is riding along.  She has heard so many stories of how special this ride is and all the love we experience in our group and from the churches who host us.  She is experiencing it first hand now.  Additionally, Greenwood is where my dad went to high school and where my grandparents lived all the time I knew them.  I would spend a week there with them each summer as we grew up.  A little piece of my heart still dwells there.

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As we worked in Baptist Town we had the opportunity to see the Katrina cottages that we built steps for two years ago in Greenwood.  The homes are now being lived in and appreciated.  What a blessing to see our efforts benefit others.  It is great to see a town trying to revive an old neighborhood where people have lived and put down roots.  As we were working a sheriff car came through and the deputy took the time to thank us for the efforts we were making today.  He had been born in Baptist Town and was fully aware of how the neighborhood had declined.  He patrols there regularly trying to get the place cleaned up too.  It does take an army and we are doing our little part to make the world a better place.

This evening we came back to the church to another delicious meal provided for us.  Some of the church members were there to share our meal with us. It is amazing how generous and kind they are.  After we got cleaned up we took the time to have a movie night at the parsonage where most of the females on the trip are staying.  We watched The Help which was filmed in Greenwood, some of it in Baptist Town where we had been working today.  It was great fun to recognize the homes we saw today in the movie.

Tomorrow morning we will mount our bikes again and hit the Trace riding 75 miles as we head on down to Kosciusko, Mississippi.  We have another day of riding together, sharing our stories, helping each other and having fun ahead of us.  Another warm church floor and welcoming church members are waiting for us down the road.  We are certainly blessed in so many ways!

Diane Bies

Elvis and Family

Last night after supper, after our 91 mile bike ride, some of us on the Fuller Bike Adventure ride went to Elvis Presley’s birth home in Tupelo, Mississippi. Elvis was born in 1936, in the midst of the Great Depression. His father, who moved from one odd job to the next, went to jail when Elvis was three for bouncing checks. His mother lost the house that Vernon, his father, had built. Seeing Elvis’ home was a reminder of why we are supporting the Fuller Center for Housing – to provide housing for those in need – whether for a family facing hard times or for a single mother who’s trying t  o make a home for her family or for an elderly or disabled person, who needs help with repairs. When people have a roof over their heads, they can concentrate on fulfilling their potential and fostering their children’s development.

 

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Family is an important part of our bike ride. For a short week, the Fuller Center volunteers become a family away from home, but some people bring their families with them. This year, Jenny and her 88 year old father will be biking together, as are the mother-daughter pair, Diane and Nicole, who will be heading west for a new job in Oregon soon after the ride. Mike, a three year veteran of the ride, brought his mother along to drive, cook, and support the team. John and one of the other Mikes are brothers and biking partners for the second time on the Spring ride.

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Our family of volunteers began the day by preparing a delicious breakfast at the campground in Tupelo and we ended the ride at Pearson’s Rexall on the square in Houston, Mississippi. For the last five days, I haven’t had to pull out my credit card or buy anything, fulfilling Millard Fuller’s dictum from Mahatma Gandhi, “Live simply, so others may simply live.” I looked forward to buying a long-awaited ice cream shake, but another family with a new baby, grateful for the help they received last year on the ride, generously bought ice cream for the entire team. While we were there the Mayor, Stacey Parker, stopped by to welcome us to Houston. I am thankful for all the wonderful hospitality and gifts I have received this week and I look forward to paying it forward tomorrow as we begin our build day in the Greenwood, Mississippi community.

-Diane Bies

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Drafting Lessons

IMG_5169Before I start a bike ride I like to ask Jesus to teach me something beautiful.  I relax, enjoy and wait upon Him to reveal His creatively given gift to me. I never know what to expect!

Some people come into our lives for a time and the Lord uses the strength of their God given passions to carry us for a time in our weakness. We do nothing to deserve it and we have nothing to offer in return except our gratitude. All we can do is accept the gift. This is beautifully humbling.

I realized this as I tried drafting today for the first time behind Renee for the first 25 miles of our 91 mile ride today. I’m not sure I would have finished the ride today without being pulled along by her strength. Her passion for biking, her strength, was used for me in my weakness.  And I had nothing to give her in return.  Drafting behind me would have only slowed her down. I was thankful and humbled to accept her gift to me in my weakness.

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This is not unlike the gift Jesus gives to us. Out of His Passion for us, His infinite Love for us, he gave Himself, from His strength, for us, in our complete weakness. We have nothing to give Him in our weakness, except our humble gratitude and love. And in turn, as we live out and enjoy the passions God has given us, He will use our strengths to bless the weaknesses in others.

-Marlene Young

Rains, Lanes, and Delectable Meals

My name is Nicole Bies. I’m a returning rider from the summer 2013 and 2014 FCBA. Something about the Fuller Center Bike Adventure always brings me such meaning and purpose that I’m back for more. Two weeks ago my mom somehow convinced me (with her natural motherly charm) to ride the spring ride for the first time with her. So I am here and so thankful for an adventure with my mom and the 33 other cyclists. Two of my passions involve people and their stories. It is very safe to say that everyone here has a different story to share. This is the most beautiful part of the adventure.

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In summary, day #2 involved cycling in rain. The Trace is so beautiful and smooth that I did not even mind (most of the time). It is funny how when you have good riding company, you can find joy in anything. I recently read in a book by Oriah. She writes, “Joy is found when we have a sense of belonging.” I belong here. We all do.  Sitting at dinner inside of a warm church laughing with new friends, old friends, geezerman, and my mom- I’m thankful. Thankful for-warm showers, dry clothing, a cozy camp pad, and the church hosting our group. In the words of Millard Fuller, “We are living simply so that others can simply live.”

Shady Grove doesn’t just feel like home…it is

Today we started our day with our friends at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church and celebrated with them in their Sunday service.   It’s in these moments that we are all joined under one family.  We truly appreciate Holy Trinity in allowing us to work out of their wonderful church to start our mission.  The mission started with them helping us so we can continue our mission of helping others.

After the church service, it appeared we were going to start the ride in rain and cold weather.  But as we started the ride, the rain went away and we started our official trek across the Natchez Trace and experienced the beautiful scenery of Tennessee.   A definite must see of the natural beauty in our world.

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At the end of our day’s 37 mile ride, we came to the arm welcoming community of Shady Grove United Methodist Church.  They welcomed us into their homes to shower and more importantly to know each other.  Old friends were reunited and new ones  will surely occur.

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts to Shady Grove Methodist Church for serving us an amazing dinner.  This is the fifth year of their community to offer themselves with food and fellowship to the Fuller Center Spring riders.  After dinner, we formed a human chain to deliver clothes the riders had brought for their church to distribute to those in need.  It was incredible on how many bags were passed from one to another into the attic at the church.  It’s all about giving to help.

All during the trip we spread the word of the Fuller Center and its mission.  You never know who you may affect and what you may put in motion.  It was another great day!!!

-David Skinner