Tuesday, August 13, 2013

From Taiwan

Greetings from Taiwan:

Thank you, God!  It has been 3 months since I've been able to write, "Greetings from Taiwan."  After 3,500 miles on a bike, 14 states, nearly 90 days and 12,000 miles in the air -- it is so good to be home!  Luey, Andy and I arrived back in Taichung last night, a little before midnight, after nearly 30 hours of travel time.

How do I feel?  I am overwhelmed by a feeling of gratitude!  The Lord has been so good to me, and through Gloritrek, has displayed both His power and his grace.  The Lord delivered us safely -- through the deserts, the mountains, the plains and then more mountains.  He opened doors and opened hearts to the message of Gloritrek!  How thankful we are to all those who blessed us from coast-to-coast!  We were overwhelmed, truly, overwhelmed by the love of God's people!  Oh, how I pray that the Lord will use Gloritrek to advance the Kingdom among those who have never had opportunity to hear the name of Jesus!

I am grateful to return to the wife of my youth!  Brenda and I celebrated our 26th anniversary this past week - apart!  She wrote me a note recently, and said, "It will be so good to have you home soon.  I am tired of missing you!"  Truly, the hardest part of Gloritrek was being apart for so long!  So, thank you, Lord, for a wife that has patiently and prayerfully been waiting for me to return.

I'm thankful for my kids.  Em did such a great job coordinating Gloritrek -- we'd have been lost without her (and, that is not a metaphorical "lost")!  Tab called tonight to tell us she was at Wrigley Field watching the Cubs and Reds play!  Hopefully, the Reds win!  Tab begins her second year of Law School in a week, or so, after a very successful internship in Houston.  And, my buddy, Noah; will be going to a knee specialist in the next week.  We are praying that Noah's left knee will heal completely, and he'll be able to play sports again soon -- at least as he starts high school.  (The imagine in my bike mirror of Noah attempting to climb that category 1 mountain between Payson and Show Low, AZ; with only his right leg clipped into the pedal, is permanently etched in my memory!)  Even if he wasn't my boy, I'd still have to love him!

I'm thankful to be back in Taiwan!  How we love this people group!  How we long for Taiwan to know Jesus!  How thankful we are to be a part of the Come Christian Church, and to have wonderful Team Expansion co-workers here in Taichung!  May the Lord work in mighty ways to advance the Kingdom here!

And, as most of you know, we are now at T minus 337 days, and counting; until we release the Come Christian Church to continue moving forward without FT missionary presence!  Lord willing, on July 20, 2014; we will say our farewells to Taichung!  Where will we go?  What will we do?  Only the Lord knows!

However, until that day comes, we have much to do; and we are grateful for YOUR partnership in this ministry with us!  Lord willing, there will be a "Taste of Taiwan" newsletter out soon.  We covet your prayers, and are so grateful for them!  How we have seen the power of prayer this summer!  Now, may we see it this fall!

Thank you for your partnership with us!  May the Lord bless you, and use you mightily to build His kingdom where you are!  

All for God's Glory Among the Nations,
David, Brenda and Noah Atkin

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Day 80 - Aug 6 - NYC (Retrospect)

Day 80 - Aug 6 - NYC (Retrospect)

This will be my last blog for a while, but I wanted to answer the question I've been asked over and over again thru the last 3500 miles and 14 states, "Are you going to write a book about Gloritrek?"

Before I get to that question, I'd like to thank the countless individuals who have contributed to the journey, not just over the last few months, but for many, many years.  If you are reading this, both you and the Lord know how you have blessed us, and contributed to this journey.  I can't begin to single individuals out; otherwise, I'll never finish.  I can now thank my lovely wife, Brenda, whom I have purposely spoken little about thru Gloritrek.  Why?  It was just too hard to contemplate just how difficult all this was on her.  Words cannot describe the range of emotions she endured, nor the faith she possesses to be willing to go along with Gloritrek!  What a helpmate the Lord has blessed me with!  I am blessed beyond measure!

Now, for the facts of Gloritrek:  Luey, Andy and I biked more than 3500 miles, and visited 14 states.  We spoke in more than 40 venues, to thousands of people.  We had 62 flat tires, with Andy taking the prize for the most.  Our longest day was 107 miles, and we biked 100 or more miles four times.  Our shortest real biking day was 35 miles (all uphill).  The fact that we were never off-schedule simply amazes me, and is a testimony to God's faithfulness and blessing!  Our hardest day, especially as a dad, was when we had to say good-bye to Noah.  Noah was with us for ten days, and he made it through most of the desert before his knee gave out.  He will be going to see the knee specialist within the next couple weeks.  I'm proud of my boy, as I know very few 13 year olds who could have done what my boy did.  Thank you, Lord!

One housekeeping matter:  many have asked to purchase one of our bike jerseys.  NOW, would be the time to send me an e-mail and say, "Count me in for a bike jersey!"  Go 2 sizes larger than you normally wear (all the way up to a 4XL).  E-mail:  gloritrek@gmail.com.  We also still have t-shirts and bracelets left, so please e-mail if you'd like to order some.

Now, the question:  "Are you going to write a book about Gloritrek?"  Gloritrek was not, and is not, about a bike ride from coast-to-coast.  It is about the 7,162 UPG's who have yet to hear the Gospel -- even one time!  We have challenged individuals and churches across the country to make God's passion for UPG's our own passion.  We've challenged Christians to begin their own Gloritreks -- to allow God to use them in "declaring God's glory among the nations."  So, in reality, the book about Gloritrek is up to YOU to write!  How will the Lord use YOU to reach the nations?  Will you adopt an UPG?  Will you partner with Team Expansion?  Will you be willing to go?  WIll you step up, strap on, clip in and start pedaling toward the nations?   If you do begin your own Gloritrek; you, too, will have story after story of how God has done amazing things to build His Kingdom!  YOU will feel God's presence in your life, and God's blessing upon whatever you do in His name!  No, I won't write a book about what we've done this summer, but I would gladly write a book about what YOU do in taking the Gospel to UPG's!

I'm looking forward to returning to Taiwan!  How I miss my Taiwanese brothers and sisters!  We have about a year left before we will set the Come Christian Church free to move forward on their own.  Please pray for us, as we still don't know where and how the Lord will use us in Kingdom service beginning in the fall of 2014.

Again, thank you for being a part of Gloritrek!  Thank you for showing Andy and Luey the love of Jesus Christ, and I pray that one day they will be devoted to following Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.  How blessed we have been!  God is so good!

All the pictures have been downloaded to Flickr!  Farewell for now! Thank you for your prayers!
Dave, Luey, Andy and Noah

Monday, August 5, 2013

Day 78-79 - Aug 4-5 - NYC

Day 78-79 - Aug 4-5 - NYC (13 mi)

We spent the day with the brothers and sisters of the China Evangel Mission Church of Queens, at the Heckscher State Park, on the Atlantic coastline.  It was a wonderful day of worship and fellowship!  The church rented a pavilion and it was full of people -- more than 200!  And, so much food!  There were also baptisms in the ocean -- young people from the congregation!  Pastor George Ibach, and his congregation in Queens, has been nothing short of amazing!  What a blessing!

It was wonderful having Brenda, Emily, Tabitha and Noah here -- to share in the final weekend of Gloritrek -- in NYC!  It was also a little emotional -- as we said our good-byes again!  Good-byes never get any easier!  In fact, I'm sitting here blogging, with Luey and Andy next-door; and my family is all gone again!  Brenda and Noah are flying back to Taiwan, Tab is back in Houston, and Emily is back with David, in Champaign.

Luey and Andy will leave for a 6 day bus trip tomorrow,to Niagara Falls, Washington DC and Philadelphia.  I will be in NYC a couple more days wrapping up stuff, and then I'll be heading to Detroit, to spend the weekend with one of our favorite partner churches -- the Memorial Church of Christ, Livonia.

Today, Luey, Andy and I took off to the Big Apple, without a schedule to keep!  We took the subway with our bikes, strolled through Grand Central Station, rode through Central Park, came down along the Hudson River where the Intrepid is docked, walked our bikes through Time Square and saw a few theatres which were on or off Broadway -- not sure which.  We had hotdogs too!  We came back to  the Chinatown area of Flushing, on the train, and then biked back to the church building.  And, we really never got lost, thanks to Pastor George and members of the congregation, who spent much time explaining what we should do!  What a blessing!

We spent the late afternoon tearing down our bikes and boxing them up at the church building.  I was thinking back to the morning we boxed them up in Taiwan -- and how nervous I was!  "What am I getting myself into?" I kept saying to myself!  "What am I getting these guys, and my son into?  They are crazy to be following me!"  "Lord, keep me close to you, for their sakes, and for your glory!"

Okay, so tomorrow, I'm going to answer the question that I've been asked over and over again, in every church we've visited -- "Are you going to write a book?"

More pictures on the Flickr acct tonight!  Thank you for praying!  Please don't stop, since there are 7,162 unreached people groups STILL out there!

Dave, Luey and Andy

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Day 77 - Aug 3 - Clinton, NJ to NYC

Day 77 - Aug 3 - Clinton, NJ to NYC (54 mi / 3,485 total miles)

Praise the Lord, from whom all blessings flow!  After 77 days, we've arrived in NYC -- alive, well, on schedule, having experienced the power of God on a daily basis, blessed by the prayers and hospitality of God's people!  Nothing is too difficult for the Lord!

I can't even express with words how I'm feeling right now!  Instead, we'll just include a couple photos of the Gloritrek team, and call it a night!  We'll be headed to the ocean to speak to the campuses of the Evangel Mission Church.  Can't wait!

More later!  Thank you for praying!
Dave, Luey and Andy

Day 76 - July 2 - Grantsville, PA to Clinton, NJ

Day 76 - Aug 2 - Grantsville, PA to Clinton, NJ (102 mi)

Where to begin?  How about we just skip the PA mtn climbs, Brenda sending us out onto the US22 expressway, the thrill of finally leaving PA and walking our bikes into New Jersey (bikes had to be walked across), Chris Leverette joining us at the 70 mile mark -- and just talk about the last mile into the Clinton.

We followed Google Maps and ended up in the middle of a women's prison, and surrounded by a dozen armed security guards!  No kidding!  Instead of hopping on the interstate, we decided to take an old abandoned school road that seemed to be in the middle of nowhere (going around two gates that were marked "No Tresspassing").  "We won't vandalize anything," I thought.  We saw several old, and obviously vacant buildings.  However, as we topped the rise -- there it was -- a prison, with barbed wire  all kinds of security, and guns.  We were quickly surrounded!  (The motel we were headed for was just right out the front gate, and we had ridden down a road and thru their unguarded back gate.)

Anyway, fortunately, the security guards were cool, after they decided we weren't there to break our wives out of prison and use bicycles as getaway!  We spent quite  a while talking about the trip, the bikes and our final destination.  They finally let us go; but it was certainly a scary moment!  Note to self:  1)  Don't trust Google Maps; 2)  If you're faced with a moral dilemma of breaking the law (a traffic ticket vs. a felony), always choose the ticket, since seldom will guns be involved; 3)  Don't ever try to break Brenda out of prison -- I'm horrible at it!

Thank you for your prayers -- all in all, the day ended well!
Dave, Luey and Andy

PS - Sorry, no pictures from our prison break!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Day 75 - Aug. 1 - Burnham to Grantville, PA

Day 75 - Aug. 1 - Burnham to Grantville, PA (80 mi)

The day could have been much, much worse!  We were fortunate to only get pulled over once today on Rt 322, but we had already made it the 12 miles needed to reach Old US22.  When we were really in a pickle -- not knowing which way to proceed (mtns to the L, mtns to the R, rivers with no bridges, highways than are NOT bike accessible, etc.) -- God sent Jim.  Jim was a retired state trooper, and his directions were spot-on, and avoided all of the above!  And, when I was really in a world of hurt, having left my wallet in the store along the highway -- God sent Bill.  Bill was the shopkeeper, and drove out to find us and return my wallet!  (I didn't know it was even missing!)  Then, the views going around Harrisburg and along the Susquehanna River were spectacular!  Best of all, we've made it through most of the mtns of PA!  Lastly, we're finally pointed straight at NYC!  One more lastly -- the motel we're staying at has a cork-screw slide into the pool, a putt-putt course and snow cones (This would be Noah's favorite part of the day!)  As for Brenda, she did a great job navigating, coordinating logistics and finding the motel!

I'm going to back up a few days and add some photos to the blog entries.  You might want to check them out!

Tomorrow, we may have an old friend, Chris, who taught at Morrison, in Taiwan, joining us for the 90 mile ride from Grantville to the NJ border.  Our goal is to have 60 miles, or less on Saturday.  Two days to NYC!  Lord willing, Battery Park, 2:00 PM, Saturday!  Please join us if you happen to be in the area!  Free sweaty hugs for everyone!  Sunday, we'll be sharing with the multiple campuses of Pastor George's evangelical church out at  Heckscher State Park on the Atlantic Ocean.  The church has rented a pavilion, and is planning a picnic!  What a cool way to conclude Gloritrek!

The Lord has been so good to us!  And, to top it all off -- the pizza just arrived!
Thank you for praying!
Dave, Luey and Andy (w/ Brenda and Noah too)

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Day 74 - July 31 - Clearfield to Burnham, PA

Day 74 - July 31 - Clearfield to Burnham, PA (72 mi)

The day began like many others -- foggy and cool (low 50's).  We biked SE on HWY 322, a two lane highway that climbs and falls through the PA mountains.  We were headed toward College Station, and Penn State University.  The mountains of PA are long, both the ascents and descents; sometimes 5 or 6 miles up, and 5 or 6 miles down.  Climbing at 8 MPH, and descending at 30 MPH.  We went down one of these long hills -- more than 3 miles of descent, and all of a sudden we are on an interstate!  Yikes!

For the second time we came upon a state trooper!  Our second day, in CA, that didn't end well!  "Did we miss a turn?"  I asked.  "Yes, but so do a lot of people!"  So, he let us go on to College Station.  We rode through College Station and Penn St., where Brenda and Noah caught up to us.  It took forever to figure out where we could get back on HWY 322.  (BTW, we have diverted from our original map, and are headed SE toward US 22, and hope to approach NYC from NJ and US22.  We plan to cross over the Hudson on the ferry, rather than to bike over the GW bridge.  This all came about from a couple of long-haul truckers along I-80.)

In the afternoon we climbed over the "7 Mountains" range, which included a 3 1/2 mile downhill!  We hit speeds of 40 MPH, but don't tell Brenda!  Shortly thereafter, we began seeing signs that said "Motorized Vehicles Only."  So, just like that HWY 322 became four lane and off-limits!  We rode on anyway, even through another construction zone.  There really wasn't any other options!  It was a little "close," even by Taiwan standards!

We ate supper this evening at the Original Italian Restaurant.  We met the owner, Michael Bailey, who is also a church planter.  Nice fellow!  He even treated us to dinner -- even cheesecake!  If you are ever in this area, check out this restaurant -- the food was great and fellowship terrific!  God's people are truly amazing!

Three days to NYC!  Tomorrow, Lord willing, we'll find Fredericksburg, PA!
Thanks for praying!
Dave, Luey and Andy (Brenda and Noah too)