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)

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Day 73 - July 30 - Barkeyville to Clearfield, PA

Day 73 - July 30 - Barkeyville to Clearfield, PA (99 mi / 3167 total mi)

Long, long day!  Detoured -- tight rope walked a bridge on I-80, with bikes, in fog!  Beautiful country!  Mountains, mountains and more mountains!  Thank you, Kevin and Cindy Grindstaff -- you guys are the best!  Four days to NYC!

The Lord delivered us again!  A cool day and a much appreciated tail-breeze!  With UPG's there will always be mountains to climb; but our God is able to deliver in ways we never could!  To Him be all praise!

Tired and going to bed!
Thank you for praying!
Dave, Luey and Andy (w/ Cindy, Kevin, Brenda and Noah)

Monday, July 29, 2013

Day 72 - July 29 - Alliance, OH to Barkeyville, PA

Day 72 - July 29 - Alliance, OH to Barkeyville, PA (78 mi)

After breakfast with the Hoover's, we went to the church where Kevin and Cindy were waiting to join us for the next couple days.  Mark Black joined us for prayer, and we set out on a very chilly morning -- in the low 50's.  Cindy drove ahead and helped us navigate the country highways.  Great to have Kevin riding with us too!  The weather was cool today, with a slight tail-breeze!  Thank you, Lord!

Before 10 AM, we had said good-bye to Ohio and hello to Pennsylvania!  We had a wonderful time sharing with churches in my home state!  Except for one evening, we were booked solid each day, and the message of Gloritrek was well received!  PTL!  UNfortunately, through PA, we have not one opportunity to share!  We had several folks trying hard -- but the door seems closed to us and the Gloritrek message.  Hmmm.....

Meanwhile, Leslie Stobel took Brenda to the Akron/Canton Airport to pick up our van for the week.  Brenda and Noah arrived at our final destination today about the same time we did!

Almost immediately, as we rode into PA, the hills began to get a little longer and a little steeper.  Altogether we did more than 3,500 ft of climbing today!  Our average speed stayed fairly high, though, at 13.7 MPH.  We took a couple breaks, especially in Amish country at a cheese factory.  I really wanted to buy some fudge.  Didn't though!  In addition to dodging potholes, we now also need to watch out for horse manure on the road!  :-)  We rode a little farther than we had planned -- to Barkeyville, PA; arriving by 2 PM.

We hope to do a little farther tomorrow, maybe evening going beyond DuBois; maybe even to Clearfield, PA -- a distance of 92 miles.  Prayers would be greatly appreciated!

Thank you for praying!
Dave, Luey, Andy and Kevin (Brenda, Cindy and Noah too)

Day 70 - July 27 - East Canton to Canton, OH

Day 70 - July 27 - East Canton to Canton, OH (15 mi)

We set out on our 70th day late this morning to ride from Indian Run Christian Church (south of East Canton), to the north-side First Christian Church, in Canton.  I put it that way because we rode a whopping 15 fairly hilly miles, all in a light rain.  Oh, that all days were as ching-song as the last couple days!  "Ching-song" means "easy, relaxing," in Chinese.  Did I mention that we actually had a refreshment station mid-way between Malvern and Indian Run yesterday evening?  What a blessing!

Now, we are so use to refreshment stations, we had to make our own on the way to FCC -- we stopped at Taco Bell!  Leslie Strobel, on the missions team met us there.  Dan Stoffer, FCC's interim minister and a Timothy, met us at the church building.  Greg and Vicki Rush, members of FCC were also there, and are hosting Luey and Andy, as well as entertaining us all for dinner.

We are looking forward to tomorrow -- to worship with FCC!  Like Malvern and Indian Run, FCC, here in Canton, has been with us since the beginning, since we went to Taiwan 15 years ago!  Why is FCC one of our partners in ministry?  That's truly one of the ironies of the family of God!  Why?  Paper airplanes!

When I was just a lad, I enjoyed creating and flying paper airplanes.  The balcony to the baptistry of the old FCC church building, here in Canton, presented a unique challenge.  Could a paper airplane glide 250 feet, and land in the drink?  I made it my mission to find out!  Let's just say -- I GOT BUSTED -- it wasn't pretty!  Years later, however, the FCC brethren, full of grace, pardoned this lad who still likes paper airplanes!  They even decided to partner with us in Taiwan!  They even helped pay for more than a one-way ticket!  :-)

If only the 7,162 UPG's could one day experience the grace of God that we have experienced over and over again!  To this end we ride!  Lord willing, one week from today -- see you in NYC!

Thank you for praying!
Dave, Luey and Andy

Day 71 - July 28 - Worship Day

Day 71 - July 28 - Worship Day (12 mi)

First Christian, in Canton, hosted us on this Lord's Day morning.  Andy and Luey had stayed with a couple in the church, Greg and Vicki Bush.  Wonderful people!  We were in a hotel, because there was five of us (us and Brenda's folks).  FCC's building and especially their sanctuary, is state-of-the-art.  Many, many folks put in many, many hours to insure that the worship services are the best for the best -- the King of Kings!

During the first service, Brenda and Noah spoke to the youth in an adjacent building.  I think Noah mostly did his Chinese yo-yo and Brenda did most of the speaking.  In the second service, Noah came up on stage with me and did his yo-yo during the intro to my message.  Noah did great, and the message was well received.  Several people came forward during the decision time.  After the service, a  young lady came and asked me to pray with her.  She has been battling depression, and the Holy Spirit really ministered to her heart during the message.  PTL!

We had a great lunch with the missions team following the two services.  It was great seeing Ryan Wolfe and his family, and to hear how FCC is ministering to people with disabilities.  What a blessing they are to many -- a real model to be emulated!  And, the missions team is really on the ball -- a fine bunch of folks!  Thanks, Leslie Stobel, for coordinating our weekend with you!

Did I mention that I drove a 'Vette today!?!  Greg Bush has an '02 Corvette convertible which is amazing!  He took us for a spin in it, and also let me drive it!  Wow!  We finally tore ourselves away from Canton, and rode the 12 miles to Beechwood Christian Church, in Alliance.  Mark Black, who use to bin Malvern, is the minister here.  They were hosting Marvin Whiteman, a Christian musician who happens to be blind -- but, he sees more than most!  He is an amazing pianist and vocalist!  What a powerful testimony he shared!  We also shared for about 10 minutes about UPG's.

It was a great night, which ended at Larry and Bonnie Hoover's home.  A late supper and a tour of Larry's workshop were the perfect end to our day!  One week left to NYC -- through the mountains of PA!

Thank you for praying!
Dave, Luey and Andy

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Day 69 - July 26 - Malvern to East Canton, OH

Day 69 - July 26 - Malvern to East Canton, OH (12 mi)

No, that's not a mis-type -- only 12 miles today from Kevin and Cindy's home, to the church building in Malvern and then on to Indian Run Christian Church.  We had a great day today!

We spent the late morning into the afternoon at a lake nearby Malvern.  The church had arranged for a boat and picnic at the lake.  Lots of folks came out for the picnic -- a great time of fellowship.  Several of us attempted to stay on a tube, pulled by Vaughn's boat.  It was like riding a wild bull!  We were also surprised to see Tyler and Tanner Vincent, from Livonia, MI; whose grandparents, John and Mona, live on a farm outside of Malvern.  John is celebrating his 75th birthday on Monday!  Anyway, we've known the Vincent's for 30 years -- since I was an intern at Indian Run.  Tyler Vincent just graduated from the Air Force Academy and is on his way to Pensacola to learn to fly jets!  Tanner may follow in big brother's footsteps!  I mention all these because many years ago the Lord used the Indian Run Church, and the Vincent family in particular kind of adopted me into their family.  What a blessing to fellowship with all these fine folks!

Later, there were about a dozen of us that biked the 6 miles from Malvern to Indian Run, ranging in age  from about 15 to 65.  Brenda, Noah, Mack and Elaine arrived in Malvern in time for Noah to ride with us!  We had a great time following the Gloritrek signs.  There were also a photographer and journalist tracking us.  When we arrived at Indian Run, they had supper waiting on us -- a potluck dinner and BBQ.  Luey had three desserts!  I had coconut creme pie!  Wonderful!

Indian Run hosted a Gloritrek event, and it was wonderful to see so many who were such a blessing 30 years ago, as well as those who have partnered with us over the last 15 years in Taiwan!  Terry Bailey, the preacher, has another book coming out soon -- looking forward to it.  His first book, a Christian science fiction book, "The Pilate Plot," should be made into a movie!  Luey and Andy learned to play the Corn Holes game with Terry -- they had a great time!

We stayed with another couple who has had a huge impact in our lives -- Larry and Sharon Smith.  SO many memories!  What a blessing to be a part of the family of God!  What a difference the love of Christ makes!  How utterly lost are those who do not know the Author of grace!  How utterly hopeless must be those who place their hope in the stuff of earth, rather than the Source of love!  What are we, who have received blessing upon blessing, willing to do so than those who have not heard will have opportunity to experience the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ!

Thank you for praying!
Dave, Luey and Andy

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Day 68 - July 25 - Coshocton to Malvern, IL

Day 68 - July 25 - Coshocton to Malvern, IL (68 mi)

I made a startling discovery today!  My speedometer/odometer is off slightly.  For every 60 miles we ride, we are shorted 1.5 miles.  So, in reality, we've biked farther than the total 2825 miles I've recorded, a whopping 70 miles farther -- more than an average day of riding.  And, that puts us at nearly 2900 miles.  I know it doesn't sound like a big deal, but what if those 70 miles were all up hill, or into a head wind.  Okay, enough about that -- for the moment!  :-)

We were so blessed today to have Kevin and Cindy Grindstaff drive down to Coshocton very early this morning.  Cindy hauled our bags back to Malvern and Kevin rode with us.  It was Kevin who alerted me to the discrepancy with my speedometer.  Anyway, Kevin had charted our course and broke wind for us nearly all morning.  (It was a very hilly day, but only a prelude of what is ahead -- the mtns of PA!)  When we arrived at their home, Cindy had a great lunch already laid out for us!  Wonderful!

Tonight, First Christian Church, Malvern, will host a Gloritrek event!  We have had three churches in the Canton area who have supported us in Taiwan for many years -- First Christian, in Malvern; Indian Run, in East Canton; and First Christian, in Canton.  We'll get to visit all three on Gloritrek!  Tomorrow, more than a dozen cyclist from FCC (Malvern) will join Luey, Andy, Noah and me for a bike ride of about 6 miles to the Indian Run Christian Church.  That's right, Lord willing, Noah and Brenda (along with Mack and Elaine), will make it out here from IL tomorrow afternoon, so Noah can take part in the short bike ride.  Noah can ride a little ways, with not much pain, if he doesn't strain as he cranks.

Back to the slightly off speedometer, it reminds me of several churches we have encountered on Gloritrek.  They are startled to find out that they support many worthwhile missions, but not a single one is working among an UPG.  That's not unusual, since 9 out of every 10 FT missionaries around the world is working among a people group that is more than 5% Christian.  Yet, there are still more than 7,000 people groups who are still in desperate need!  Fortunately, Team Expansion can help them adopt an unreached people group (UPG), and begin their own Gloritrek!  (You can see these and more statistics on www.joshuaproject.net.)

Regardless of the distance traveled, the Lord has been with us all the way!  So, thank you for praying!

Dave, Luey and Andy

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Day 67 - July 24 - Delaware to Coshocton, OH

Day 67 - July 24 - Delaware to Coshocton, OH (79 mi / 2808 total mi)

Rob F fixed us breakfast this morning, on his 50th birthday!  Thanks, Rob!  I hope you get a new road bike for your b'day!

We rode east with a cool NE wind into us for the better part of the morning.  We were aided by riding two bike paths for a total of about 25 miles.  It was nice to be off the highway -- and a fairly flat ride.  When we got to the Newark area, we were going to get on Rt 16, but there was a sign that said "No Bicycles."  So, we stayed on "Old Rt 16" and it was a better road than the new Rt 16 Expressway!

The last 20 miles was more north than east, and directly into a head-wind.  I kept reminding myself that "this is the last day we'll be carrying our saddle bags.  Tomorrow Kevin and CIndy Grindstaff, from Malvern will join us.  Then, we'll be in the Canton area for the weekend, with Brenda, Noah, Mack and Elaine coming on Friday.  And, all next week we'll have a support vehicle.  PTL!

Tonight we're in a motel room here in Coshocton; and,  yes, we know we aren't in Millersburg, as our calendar and map had indicated.  Coshocton, despite the wind, was a better call, and puts us on a better path toward Malvern tomorrow.

It's time for supper!  So, thanks for praying!
Dave, Luey and Andy

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Day 66 - July 23 - Washington CH to Delaware, OH

Day 66 - July 23 - Washington CH to Delaware, OH (58 mi / 2729 total miles)

The morning fog shrouded us as we rode from Bob and Carol's up the 3C Highway toward Columbus. We made good time, aided by a slight SW breeze and averaged 16 MPH to Columbus.  We joined up with the Olentangy Bike Trail, which goes north-south through Columbus for 13 miles.

We arrived at Rob and Melissa Fenstermaker's home right at noon.  Rob is the missions chairman for the Worthington Christian Church.  WCC does a great job in the area of missions, supporting several mission works to UPG's.  We visited the WCC building -- they really are cutting edge in a lot of ways!

Tonight, Rob and Melissa are hosting a Gloritrek event in their home, and we hope to see several old friends!  More later -- supper is served!

POSTSCRIPT:  We had an absolutely wonderful evening with a small group, hosted by the Fenstermaker's!  Among those attending were Doug and Terri Swan, who I went to college with.  Terri, and her twin sister, Gerri, were two of my closest friends.  And, Doug, there's not space to tell about all we did while in college, besides study, of course!  :-)

About the vision for Gloritrek, 7 1/2 years ago, was it metaphorical or literal?  Was the Lord telling me that I was going to recover, or that this was something that I would one day do with my son?  Both, I believe!  The Apostle John, in Revelation 7, had a vision too -- of the throne room in Heaven.  He saw, "a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb."  Was it metaphorical or do you believe it can and will happen?  If you believe it will happen, do you believe YOU are a part of God's plan to reach the UPG's?  I don't know about you, but I want to be in on the amazing things God is, and will do, around the world for His Glory!

Thank you for praying!
Dave, Luey and Andy

Day 65 - July 22 - Wilmington to Washington CH, OH

Day 65 - July 22 - Wilmington to Washington CH, OH (28 mi)

We said good-bye to the Vance's, who have blessed me more than I have space to write, and set out from the church building.  Dale, the preacher, came early to open the building and pray with us!  Though it was raining, my heart was full as we pedaled through Wilmington.  This community has been through a lot in the last few years, but the Gospel is advancing.

No where is that more evident than in Sabina, just up the road from Wilmington, where my friend from grade school, Troy Villars, preaches.  The church is in the middle of a building campaign -- a complete relocation.  Troy took us to what they're doing, and what they have plans to do!  PTL!

We said good-bye to Troy, and the rain stopped as we rode through Washington Court House (CH), and rode out of town to the east, and Bob and Carol Walisa's home.  They have a beautiful home in the woods, and were wonderful hosts!  Bob and Carol's trees like to make faces at us, though!  Bob goes on a lot of missions trips, so we had much to talk about.

Thanks to Ray Vance, another of my grade school friends, and the preacher at South Side, they already knew all about me.  Most of the stories Ray has told about me, going back to Jr and Sr high, I remember differently.  In fact, in most of the stories, I was nearly completely innocent!  :-)  Ray is in Haiti right now, but the South Side church hosted a fine Gloritrek event, and had a very good crowd out on a Monday evening.  Bob, Luey, Andy and I almost missed the meeting, because we were having too much fun eating and talking!

I'm thinking about the value of retired folks in missions:  what a blessing they can be to the nations!  What a new lease on life the Lord can give them as they serve the Lord cross-culturally!  Ask Bob, he'll tell you how missions has impacted his life!

Thank you for praying!
Dave, Luey and Andy

Day 64 - Wilmington, OH (Worship Day)

Day 64 - Wilmington, OH (Worship Day)

What a blessing to worship with my home church, to see the people whom the Lord used to guide me through some difficult growing up years.  What a blessing they have been to us for nearly four decades.  It is an absolute certainty that without WCC, I would certainly NOT be in ministry today and probably wouldn't be alive either!  God is so good!

As I went from SS class to SS class, greeting my church family; I felt the Holy Spirit speaking to me.  As I stood to preach, I knew I needed to forget about the sermon outline, and just share what the Holy Spirit laid upon my heart.  I'm not sure what I said, or if it made any sense at all -- but I was truly overwhelmed by a spirit of gratitude for all that the Lord has done and is doing through WCC!  Praise the Lord!

Later, in the afternoon, Hugh Vance, a fellow with whom I have had great fun for many years, took us boating to Caesar's Creek Lake.  Hugh has a speed boat -- and we hit speeds of 50-60 MPH!  What a blast it was!  COming back to Bill and Janet Vance's home is like coming home for me, since they adopted me into their family when I was still in Jr High.  We spent the even reminiscing, and catching up on what the Vance children are all doing (three of their sons are in ministry).  We all slept very well!

Thank you for praying!
Dave, Luey and Andy

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Day 63 - July 20 - Mason to Wilmington, OH

Day 63 - July 20 - Mason to Wilmington, OH (30 mi)

It was an outstanding day!  It started with a wonderful breakfast prepared by Chad, as every morning should begin with a good breakfast!  Then, we biked down into the Little Miami River valley, reaching a top speed of 38 MPH.  The folks from Georgetown Church of Christ we ready and waiting to join us on a 10 mile ride along the scenic Little Miami.  What fun!

We biked along slowly talking much -- great fellowship and beautiful surroundings!  Truly, we didn't want it to end!  We reached a camping area, where the Georgetown church had rented a pavilion.  We ate lunch -- hamburgers, hot dogs, con on the cob and watermelon.  I spoke about the decisions we make today to follow Christ will have a ripple effect all the way to the third and fourth generations of those who love the Lord, not to mention the UPG's and eternity.  However, I was speaking of passing the faith to our children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.

We tore ourselves away from the Georgetown brethren, and began the ascent out of the valley -- a category one climb, made much easier with no saddlebags.  We rode 15 more miles to Wilmington, my hometown.  We beat the storm by 5 minutes! l We stayed with long-time friends, Jon and Amy Luttrell; farmers here in South Central Ohio.  We ate dinner tonight with childhood friend, Ray Vance and wife Patti.  Ray is the minister at South Side church in Washington Court House, where we will be on Monday evening, Lord willing.

Also, today mark a milestone, we are one year away today from releasing the Come Christian Church to move forward without missionary presence.  July 20, 2014, Lord willing, Brenda and I will move on to a new Kingdom service.  What that will be, we have no idea!  Pray with us!

Thank you for praying!
Dave, Luey and Andy

Day 62 - July 19 - Fairfield to Mason, OH

Day 62 - July 19 - Fairfield to Mason, OH (28 mi)

From Fairfield to Mason (actually, Morrow) was only 28 miles.  It was a beautiful ride through wooded and rolling hills.  Kent, a member of the Fairfield church road along with us with only one gear working (more on that in a minute).  We ended up on the Little Miami River bike trail, which is a scenic river.  As we rode along, we all knew that out of 3500 miles, it won't ever get any better than that -- absolutely beautiful -- and we praised the Lord of all creation.

We arrived in Morrow, and the home of Chad and Tish Powers.  They have two beautiful daughters, Hannah and Olivia.  Their neighbors are on vacation and said, "You all make yourselves at home in our home!"  Wow -- welcoming complete strangers into their home!

Kent's bike had only one working gear, and he thought he needed to buy a new bike, because that's what the bike shop told him.  Luey took a look at it, and in only 15 minutes Luey had both front and rear gears working like they were brand new!  Kent was amazed!

Christ's Church in Mason hosted our Gloritrek event, but it was sponsored by the Georgetown Church of Christ.  About 20 members from that church drove for more than an hour to be a part of Gloritrek!  What a blessing they are to us!  They also organized the next morning ride along the Little Miami River.  What a great day!

Thank you for praying!
Dave, Luey and Andy

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Day 61 - July 18 - Fairfield, OH (Rest Day)

Day 61 - July 18 - Fairfield, OH (Rest Day)

I'm spending the day with my mom, here in Fairfield.  Luey and Andy are being entertained by Pastor Dave.  Days like these are so rare, days to be cherished!  Tonight we will have supper with my youngest sister, Becki, and her family!  Looking forward to seeing them!

We will be back on the road tomorrow morning, but not too far -- to Mason, OH.  We'll actually be going beyond Mason, to Morrow, which means we'll be going down into the Little Miami River valley, and then up the other side.  We're staying with Chad Powers and his family -- from Brenda's home church in Brocton, IL.

We'll be having a Gloritrek event tomorrow evening at Christ's Church in Mason.  Will we see you there?  Then, a Gloritrek event along the Little Miami River with the Georgetown (OH) Church of Christ.  Then, on to Wilmington, and my home church for Sunday!  Thank you, Lord, for opportunities such as these!  May we be faithful -- for Your glory!

God has been so good to us!

Thank you for praying!
Dave, Luey and Andy

Postscript -- You've heard the expression, "While the cats away the mice will play!"  And, boy did Luey and Andy have a great time with David and Connie.  They went everywhere:  Union Station, downtown Cincy, Mt Adams, Montgomery Inn Restaurant -- all without me!  They also ate dinner with a family from Taiwan!

You can see most of their pictures on Flickr!  Here's just a few from our rest day!

Day 60 - July 17 - Erlanger, KY to Fairfield, OH (30 mi)

Day 60 - July 17 - Erlanger, KY to Fairfield, OH (30 mi)

Two months ago, today, we boarded the plane to the US from Taiwan.  It would be fair to say that we were more than a little anxious about the road ahead.  I wasn't even sure we'd make it out of the desert, let alone to our 11th state -- Ohio -- my home state!

We rode the 30 miles from Erlanger church to Fairfield -- all city riding, through the heart of downtown Cincinnati.  We crossed the Ohio river for the second time on Gloritrek.  Cincy is really a beautiful city!  However, as we came through several sections of the city, it was obvious that the church has much to do at home, as well as abroad!  Our God is a big God, so don't believe we haven't the resources to focus our attention on both.  God can and will provide everything we need to convey the Gospel to all! We arrived at the Fairfield church by about 10 AM, beating the heat (for the most part).  We appreciated my mom and a couple of her friends driving to Erlanger and transporting our bags, which seem to be getting heavier as we accumulate stuff.

What a blessing the Fairfield Church of Christ has been -- to my mother, POM (Parent of Missionary); as well as to Gloritrek!  David and Connie Hargrave (David is the sr. minister) took us to the restaurant of our choice -- amazingly, we ended up at Skyline Chili again!  :-)  What a blessing to see mom again! What a woman of great faith she is!

After LaRosa's Pizza with the missions team, we had the Gloritrek event with a terrific crowd!  They were terrific, with the questions continuing into the linger longer.  For the first time on Gloritrek, I actually had folks ask me if they could see my back and the scar that runs down my spine.  I'm happy to oblige, as it is a testimony to the power of God!  THe Fairfield church has a long history with Team Expansion, and is presently involved with at least three UPG's!  I applaud their vision and pray that their faith will spread to churches who have yet to adopt a people group!  I am reminded of what Jesus said, and I'm paraphrasing, "To those who have, more will be given.  To those who don't have; even what they have will be taken from them and given to those who have."  Meaning:  God blesses churches that seek to do God's will, taking the Gospel to all nations.  Those churches whose focus is elsewhere......well?!?

Thank you for praying!
Dave, Luey and Andy

Day 59 - July 16 - Carrollton to Erlanger, KY

Day 59 - July 16 - Carrollton to Erlanger, KY (52 miles)

We set out from Carrollton, after a wonderful breakfast with Francisco and Sue (I think she thought there were 10 guys on the Gloritrek team -- so much food).  For the first half of the ride we paralleled the Ohio River.  We rode in a fog that was quite heavy at times.  I thought about those who worship idols, who are also in a fog of hopelessness and despair, who have never known real love.

After 20 miles, we left the river and began climbing toward N Kentucky.  It was up and down for the remaining 22 miles, to Harry and Patti's home.  They live 10 miles south of the Erlanger Church of Christ.  We arrived by 10:30 AM, and after showers, we promptly set out for lunch at Skyline Chili!  Now, Patti knows how to entertain guests!  We also went for haircuts, and a pool!

Patti coordinated the Gloritrek event at the Erlanger church, and arranged for us to ride our bikes the 10 miles from their home to the church with a few folks from the church.  Sophie, a fourth grader, rode a few blocks with us to the church!  Reminded me of when our girls were little, when we first moved to Taiwan, and my girls enjoyed riding bikes!  What a blessing!

A great crowd turned out for the Gloritrek event, even exceeding all expectations!  It was a terrific evening as we see the Lord working in hearts and in His church!

Pictures to come later!

Thanks for praying!
Dave, Luey and Andy

Monday, July 15, 2013

Day 58 - July 15 - E Louisville to Carrollton, KY (52 mi)

Day 58 - July 15 - E Louisville to Carrollton, KY (52 mi / 2510 total mi)

We began the final 1/3 of our Gloritrek to NYC, with a clear blue sky and light winds.  We're now over 2500 miles, with maybe 1,000 to go!  Though Luey and Andy did quite a bit of riding around Louisville during the NACC last week, I was getting on my bike (except for a short jaunt on Friday to E Louisville) for the first time in more than a week!  It was a great break, but I was a little fearful that the time off might have some adverse effects.  However, what I discovered is that riding a bike is like riding a bike -- you never forget how!  Ha, ha!  :-)

We had a great morning cycling HWY 42 to Carrollton:  the rolling hills of Kentucky Bluegrass, the picketed fences, the thoroughbred horses grazing in the fields, the forests that provided shade and fresh air -- all were a great blessing and pleasant distraction to us.  And, we traveled much lighter this morning, as the beautiful Emily Roach transported our bags to Carrollton for us (she and her dad both works there).  Midway,  just when we needed a short break -- a roadside market with fresh peaches!  Oh, that all our days could be like this one!

We arrived in Carrollton and are being hosted by Francisco and Sue Leite.  They have been missionaries to Brazil, and Francisco is a graduate of CCU (in '67).  After a wonderful lunch, with homemade chicken pot pie, and strawberry shortcake; we are resting as the temperature outside climbs to 106.  Praise the Lord that we aren't out in it!

Tonight we will attend a men's meeting in a nearby town with the men of the English Christian Church.  Tomorrow we will head to Erlanger, where we're told the police, as well as a class of 2nd and 3rd graders are waiting for us!

We were just outside of Carrollton at 10:02 this morning, crossing the Kentucky River before it joins the Ohio River, when my watch alarm sounded the daily reminder to pray for the unreached nations.  As I prayed, I immediately thought of Sports and English Camp, in Taiwan.  The first full day of camp was coming to an end (Taiwan is 12 hours ahead of us in KY), and I prayed that the Lord would open young people's hearts to be receptive to the Good News they are hearing.  I also prayed for the faculty, "Lord, use them mightily and give them stamina!"  Could you join me, at 10:02 (as Luke 10:2 reminds us to pray to the Lord of the Harvest), to pray for UPG's?

Thanks for praying!
Dave, Luey and Andy