Today marks the fourth week of our Trip West. Each week has offered us diverse terrain, adventure, and people. It has been a journey for the eyes, heart, and soul. From the towering rock formations of the Needles, steaming geysers in the earth, and winding bubbling brooks of the Lewis and Madison lakes, the landscape of the West is both overpowering and liberating. And it demands attention – to creation, culture, history, and the roads.
The only thing that has not changed during our travels through eleven states and over three thousand miles is the weather. Following us have been clear skies dotted with languishing clouds, warm temperatures, and daily sunshine. We began to take the fresh air and dry weather for granted. Watching the onslaught of hurricane Harvey and its aftermath, however, wakened us from our oblivion. When we drove into Montana where a drought covers 90 percent of the state, forest fires are raging on its borders, and thick smoke obscures ghostly mountain ranges, we were shocked into the reality of nature’s fury.
Over the past month, Dan and I have felt giddy like children receiving gifts every day. As we drove deeper into the West, through Missouri, South Dakota, and Wyoming and experienced the ever-expanding panoramas of the Black Hills, Bad Lands (where we were over-shadowed by the eclipse), Grand Tetons, Yellowstone and Old Faithful, the generosity and grace of God covered us. This we did not take for granted.
Yes, God’s Glory has been clearly evident in the timeless creations of nature. But what delighted me anew was how He turned my attention to Himself in people. His Glory in people? Yes! While waiting for the eclipse in the barren monstrous Badlands, we met Dave a tall African American, who greeted us with a warm smile. He shared that he had gone to school at Piney Woods School in Mississippi founded by Dr. Lawrence Jones, an educator devoted to educating African-American children.
“Look him up! Dave urged eyes sparking like a six-year old kid, “Read about how he was almost lynched for trying to start the school. That’s where I got my education, those scary days in the ‘60’s – thanks to Dr. Jones.”
As the moon crept its way in front of the sun, Dave told us he went on to college, then joined the Navy and served in ‘Nam. He is retired now and a traveling man anxious to see all of his country. Dave is a man of peace and gratitude.
In St. Charles, Missouri, we met our “camping co-ops’, Amber and Walter, a couple so friendly and outgoing that I immediately invited them to our lot for hamburgers. I did not want to miss their joy. While they travel in their RV to Walter’s jobs in construction, Amber continues her passion for nursing on the road. Amber’s positive and motivating attitude about her RV life infused my faith and trust in the road before us.
Through strangers with ready smiles, advice, and sharing, I saw God’s Glory take on Christ’s nature. Joy, faith, goodness, kindness, patience have shown up in so many people along our way. The greatest gift, though, was our unplanned impromptu meeting up with Chris, JoAnne, Caitlin, and Jake, our nephew and family from NYC who “just happened” to be vacationing in the Grand Teton National Park, just ten miles from us. We have not visited with this family for years and suddenly in the midst of prairies, mountains, and fields of wild life, we found each other! Just as I cannot find words to describe God’s Glory in nature, I cannot describe the joy of this miraculous encounter. As Jo later wrote, “It had to be orchestrated by God!”
One of the many advantages in the RV life is its ready mobility. Due to the limited sightseeing here at Polson, MT, we are cutting our stay short and moving on to a resort in Idaho, just fifty miles from the Canadian border. We may find the air smoky there, too, but the visit will add another state to our belts, so we will give it a try.
Our Grandson, Gabe, is based with YWAM in Lynden, Washington, where the smoke is currently very thick. Even if we must alter our entire trip and turn back south, we will continue northwest until we are reunited with Gabe. God knows all of nature, thousands of miles, and national attractions will not keep me from a grandchild!
In closing this epistle I join all of you in prayer for the flood victims of Texas, all of those preparing for impending hurricane devastation, and the hundreds of people who are fleeing homes as fires rage around them. As well, I continue praying hourly in confidence for the friend fighting victoriously his battle with cancer.
No matter where we are, God is calling us to be His watchmen during these times, as He is with us in all difficulties and through the unknown. God knows, and He is mightier than any calamity and stronger than any disaster. May He find us faithful.