Here I sit. It's Sunday and we're getting ready to embark on a life-changing 6 week adventure. The first week was incredible! We learned a lot, met some great people and are so excited to do it again. The biggest weight on my shoulders (and I'm sure Monty's too) - is leaving our families again. Tougher than the pedaling, tougher than the heat, tougher than anything else is being away for so long.
Last we talked the team was heading from Gila Bend to Eloy on Friday. It was scheduled to be a relatively uneventful 75 miles across quiet desert and for the most part it was. The landscape was atypically Sonoran with Saguaros all around and Creosote Bush in the air. Two reasons why I'm a big fan of the desert. Becca and Susan - now an expert chase vehicle crew were ready for anything and practically able to anticipate our needs at each stop. They were awesome! What none of us anticipated were desert pirates!
That's right.....At one point along the way we stopped for fresh water along the side of Route 8 and were almost immediately greeted by Customs and US Border Patrol. It was like a scene from the reality series on the NatGeo Channel. They swooped in with hands on weapons (not drawn, of course) and begin to ask questions. After seeing all these guys do, it's amazing anything gets across the border! The main officer informed us that the chase vehicle had stopped in one of the most dangerous human/drug smuggling areas of Arizona and that we needed to move along right quick. Car jackings and kidnappings weren't uncommon for this area he told us. We obliged and met back up with the chase vehicle about 10 miles down the road. It was our second experience with the law in 5 days. Hope we're not setting the standard for the rest of the trip!
Just prior to that we came upon two riders pedaling along in much the same fashion we were. They were heading in the same direction and looked equally as road worn as us - turns out they were suffering a little worse having spent the night in a noisy campground. You've got to check these guys out. Jacques and Brad call San Diego home and have pretty cool stories. They are riding to raise funds for an orphanage in South Africa (www.beautifulgate.org) and from their website it appears they've got a strong following. They seemed like really nice guys and Monty and I hope to run into them again along they way.
Check out their website: www.irideyougivetheylive.org
Here's one of the things I'm learning - although the learning been going on for a couple of years now. Poverty is real. It's a horrible thing and it affects people all over the world. It shows itself in many ways and none of them are attractive. You can be here in the states or in a 3rd world nation people can't find on a map. It's everywhere. Until you smell it, see it in person or let your heart be affected by it, it has a sinister way of not appearing real. Believe me, it's real. It's ugly and it kills children every single day. Jacques and Brad were impacted - so they are pedaling for the Beautiful Gate in South Africa. Monty and I are impacted and we're pedaling for Haiti. We can each do our part to stop this awful plague wherever it touches us. It's not God's job - that's not how He works. We are to be God's hands and feet in the world and we are to make a difference. Our faith, our belief, our love for God should drive our action. Let it drive yours - step out and take a risk. In the Book of James, James writes that our faith should drive action (2:26). Again, let it drive yours. Small steps and big steps - it doesn't matter - just take steps.
This is Wildnel - he's 10 years old and lives in Croix des Per, Haiti and attends the school in Concrab - at 10, he has statistical significance. He's won a lottery of sorts. Most children born in Haiti don't live to see the age of 5 more or less 10. Through your generosity we can equip Wildnel with the education and immunities he needs to take the next steps. Wildnel could be the next change maker in a nation that needs great leaders of integrity. Although I have never met him, I believe in Wildnel and I'm asking that you do as well. The children of Haiti need a hand up and yes, there are hundreds of different organizations doing that already, but it's going to take more. Help us help Wildnel and the other children at the Concrab School.
Tomorrow morning we drive down to where we left off on Friday and we begin our journey again. I hope you'll do a few things - (1) Pray - pray for Monty, Don and I and pray for our families who really have the hard work with us away. Pray for Haiti and it's beautiful people as well. (2) Follow us - I'll note the different options for following us below. (3) Spread the word. Help us get the word out. Help us connect with others to make the needs of Haiti known. Let's not allow Haiti to fall back into obscurity.
Thanks for reading.
Monty - montysbikeride.com
Don - donsblogstuff.blogspot.com
Facebook: Pedal for Haiti
See you down the road!