Bill and two of his daughters droves us to (and through) Lawrence, Kansas after Tom and I were ready. It was probably after 1pm and we had some 30 miles to our destination that evening. Immediately after taking my bike out of the van I noticed my first flat tire of the trip. I guess it's fortunate I wasn't riding when it happened. Bill helped change and pump the tire and bid us farewell.
The first half of the scenery for our ride was gorgeous. We stopped in a park and ate some fruit (and I made a call or two, which is not preferred over reading scripture or catching up with Tom, but it's necessary). Eventually, the highway was four lane again and we hit some steep hills on approach to Shawnee. We took highway 7 south and navigated to Ja'Zan's neighborhood. I didn't call Ja'Zan to update her on our location or ETA, but she had expected us to arrive while she and her family were at a city-wide workday for their church (in conjunction with 10 or 11 other churches). That said, Ja'Zan told us to come in and make ourselves at home. What amazing trust! She later told me a couple things regarding that: "when it comes down to it, none of that stuff is really mine" and jokingly, "if you could have taken a TV with you on your bike, good for you!" On a more serious note, she said that she had just read the scripture about welcoming strangers because you don't know if you will be entertaining angels. Somehow, her soul was at peace with inviting us in.
It ended up that we did not arrive before they came back from their service in the city. Ja'Zan showered us with hospitality. She had welcome baskets and two rooms set for us! We ate some chicken and salads (one was the typical leafy kind and one was a concoction of fruit) for dinner that night (great work, Chuck!). Tom and I learned about the project they worked on during the day (furnishing and finishing some rooms at an old appartment complex where they are now helping people get back on their feet) and I shared my testimony (about the trip) with Ja'Zan. We got to meet two of their kids, Wyatt and Holly and learn about their lives. Ja'Zan also shared about her daughter, Ellie, who is off in California trying to get her book published (a fantasy-type book, I think) and adjust to life in a new environment. All in all, I thought they have a beautiful family and I was blown away by their example of openness and love to me and Tom. Ja'Zan also bought my some cough suppressant before bedtime. That has been useful. After my sore throat subsided (it started in St. Francis and improved by Bennington) a cough settled in, but it's getting better now!
We had pancakes for breakfast and we to the church service at 10am. The service was nice and I loved worship and seeing the programs they have for the kids there. Based on what Ja'Zan told me about their missions programs (that's what she does with the church) they are very strategic and have a well-coordinated effort to spread the kingdom (especially in Thailand, India, and South Africa). While at church, I couldn't help but think "what if everyone in the church came alive?" The guest pastor asked how many people had helped in the city-wide service day. A small portion of the church raised their hands. What if all these people had raised their hands? How marvelous would that be... That's not to say that they are not "alive," but if everyone was proactive in some way about spreading the kingdom and glory of God I cannot imagine the wonders that would result.
After church, Ja'Zan gave us a tour of Shawnee and the Shawnee Missions Park (which looked like a spectacular recreation spot). We had grilled cheese and ham for lunch and then hopped in the Expedition to go to the Missouri side of Kansas City. They took us through the Plaza and we got to see some of the city. It was beautiful.
We arrived at Stephen's appartment complex around 4pm. He was outside waiting. I didn't know what to expect (we'd gotten his number from a friend, John, from school). We said a too-soon-goodbye to our new family in Shawnee and went upstairs with Stephen. He is a 29 year-old from Georgia (with the accent to prove it). He was dressed in blue jeans and a white t-shirt, with aviator sunglasses, and a tattoo on his right arm. He looked like one cool dude. And his heart turned out to be a tender one. He was very cool and collected and had a lot to share about his walk with the Lord.
We rode to Shawnee, Kansas on Saturday, May 30, 2009.