A hand-dug well in Cameroon

Now that we ride east we watch every sunrise and witness our shadows grow long in the evenings.

The ride wears on, the daily grind sometimes becoming so mundane and mechanical that I loose sight of its purpose. We seem to have streamed across the north in the blink of eye. Once over the Cascades and the Rockies the only natural obstacle in our way at first glance would be weather. To ride the prevailing west winds home to Wisconsin was the dream, however nature has it’s own ways of testing a man’s soul. When the winds were with us life was good 90 miles in no more then four hours averaging 22 mph but often cruising between 27 and 30 mph. When I cursed the heavens and screamed into the wind it was usually because it was all up in my face. A headwind is no friend to a cyclist and on one of our longest days (120 miles) the wind proved to be relentless. Riding across Montana and North Dakota was a big mental challange, the length of the states were unbearable, we pressed on, and on, and on. Along the way I lost sight of the purpose of this ride. Perhaps it was blown away in the wind or perhaps I had just become too self-absorbed in my ailing body and found some sort of relief basking in my own self pity and misery.

Early Morning Ride across North Dakota

Nevertheless Paster Rod turned my mind back to what has fueled this passion of endless miles. When I first saw Paster Rod he was making us dinner, a big pot roast with a number of side salads and dishes. As we sat down he served us, making sure we had everything we needed. Not having met him yet and assuming he was just an elder who enjoyed cooking and helping out with people who came through I introduced my self. When he told me he was the senior paster I was set back. The church was huge with a number of actives going on including the housing of disaster relieve workers for the recent flooding. As we sat down and began eating his direct confidence and humble way peaked my curosity. A man has to have seen a lot in a life time to be able to carry himself in such a way. As the conversation bounced about he mentioned that his son was raised in Cameroon, Africa. I immediately asked, “did you live their or did you just ship him off?” The humorous question held what I really wanted to know. He was a missionary in a small village south of Maroua for a number of years. “I bet you have some crazy stories to tell.” He danced around the question not really wanting to get into the whole thing but eventually said “well I guess I have a few to tell” Once he started the mesmerizing stories kept coming one after the other. In hindsight it is amazing to see how God works and moves and reminiscing the transformation he witnessed over the years in the muslim people brought him to tears. His passion and awe evident.

A framed photo hangs in Pastor Rod's office of his African friend overlooking the school they just built. Joel headed for the open door to start another long day on the bike. Their efforts worlds apart yet connected.

The next day I asked if there were any specific water projects he would be interested in supporting. As if he had been waiting years for someone to ask that question he gave a direct answer. He had started a christian school among the Muslim culture east of Maroua during his time in Cameroon and had dug a well with a shovel and bucket. He said he had been trying to find an organization to help establish something better but he just hasn’t had any luck yet. Years later they still use that same open well that he dug long ago. Paster Rod’s passion brought my focus back to what it should be, his compassion for missions inspired me to continue my sometimes seemingly useless efforts. His humble servant ways intrigued me. What does it mean to be a humble servant of the Lord? I hope to find out some day but for now you can just ask Paster Rod of Minot North Dakota.

Driving around the flood zone with Paster Rod. 4,000 homes gutted, everything on the curb to be trashed.

Despite the community loosing 4,000 homes do to major flooding Pastor Rod’s Church donated $2,400 to Living Water International in one sunday morning. That is 400% more then any other church has given on our ride so far. His passion for missions is contagious, he lives to serve others. I hope with the help of Living Water International we will be able to get fresh water to the small christian school in Maroua, Cameroon. The water crisis is real and for those who have seen it, they are forever changed.

Sunday night worship on the grass, Eric rotating his tires (every 1,500 miles)

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