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The Famine Blog

Vision: Do You See What I See?



By Mike Cunningham

Vision Leaks. Like a leaky faucet. It’s a slow drip: and when you focus on the drops hitting the ground, it can quickly lead to insanity. When is someone going to shut that off? Can someone please fix it? I cannot take it anymore!

Okay, I am being a little overdramatic, but not by much. Getting others to catch a vision and then motivating them to live it out is difficult. I read something the other day about vision and leadership and the author made the point that, as leaders, we need to get comfortable with sounding like a broken record. The former disc jockey in me thought to myself, “That sounds awful.” Why would I want to torture anyone with that noise.

The truth is when we get to a point of sounding like a broken record in our vision casting, it’s about the same time that people are just beginning to understand the vision. Vision takes time, it takes grace, it takes stepping into the unknown. Vision is simply, “The ability to see what could be, followed by the conviction that it should be.”

Our youth group has so many talented kids with so much potential to change our city. Here is what we are going to do to bring that to reality.

My family dynamic is messed up, but if we learn to love each other firs,t it could change everythin;g and here’s what must take place to make that happen.

My marriage could be so much healthier if I began to make it more about my spouse than myself. I have to make some changes.

As leaders, we tend to see the vision and we are convicted to do something about it. But what about our students? What about the people we lead week in and week out? What if they have trouble seeing what you see? What if they lack conviction — not because they are less passionate than us, but because they cannot see what we see yet.

One of our main responsibilities is to help raise the awareness of what God is already doing in our midst. God is already up to something and it’s our role to help our students see that and respond. The reality is it’s hard for us to raise other people’s awareness levels if we lack awareness in our own life.

How would you answer this question: “What is God currently inviting me to do and what am I doing about it?” If you cannot answer that question, you lack awareness.

30 Hour Famine is a vision. Go hungry to help hungry kids. That’s simple and practical. It helps us and our students see the most basic of human needs. It raises our awareness. It helps us see a picture of what could be. All we need to ask ourselves is, “Do we have the conviction that things shouldn’t be the way they are?” Could we help hungry kids get food? Absolutely. Should we help hungry kids get food? How you respond is connected to vision.

Nurturing (and Keeping) Volunteers



By Britt Martin

When I first started in youth ministry in rural Georgia as a college student, the last thing that was on my mind was small groups. The associate pastor continually stressed the importance “getting more adults involved in youth ministry.” In my young (and in hindsight, egotistical) mind, this meant that I should bring more adults into the room to hear my awesome lessons. “They’d probably get a lot out of hearing me, too,” I’d reason with myself.

It never made sense to me why I couldn’t keep volunteers in the room long term. They all seemed to stick around for a few weeks and then find something better to do. I’m sure you are much more humble, down to earth, and in tune to the rhythms of people than I was back in the day; but here are some things I’ve learned about keeping adult volunteers plugged in to youth ministry:

Everyone wants to be wanted. Chances are, a valuable adult volunteer with a real life, family, job, and responsibilities doesn’t want to sit in the back of the room every week and hear an awesome lesson taught to some teens. (I wish someone had told me that). Give your volunteers a job to do. Heck, give them a job description: the more specific the better. Maybe even take a chance to meet up with them for some formal or informal training. They’ll know you need them and you mean business. Give them a reason to show up.

Small groups have a BIG impact. A great way to keep volunteers plugged in is by implementing small groups. Even if there’s only a hand full of students in your group at the moment, every student can benefit from another adult relationship in his or her life.

One easy way to begin to think about employing small groups is to shorten your lesson a bit , write a couple discussion questions, and break out into groups after the lesson to discuss more in depth. Break the groups into guys and girls, and even split up ages if necessary. This gives adults a long-term relational role in the lives of your students. I’ve had more people fall in love with youth ministry through leading a small group than any other way. They invest in the lives of the kids and they keep coming back.

Say thank you. Next to not feeling needed, I’ve had more volunteers leave our team over the years because they didn’t feel appreciated. Today, at our church, we invest a significant portion of our ministry budget into our volunteers. Whether it’s training or appreciation, you can never invest too much into your volunteers.  We do everything from big thank-yous (like a volunteer appreciation dinner where we give them gifts and let students serve them) to small thank-yous (like making sure we take the Keurig and some awesome coffee just for them on retreats).

ASK! This one was the toughest one for me. I remember always going to my pastor and complaining about not being able to find volunteers. I’d created job descriptions. I had a good plan. I couldn’t wait to appreciate them and tell them thank you, but I couldn’t find any people!  I’d put it in the bulletin. I’d made announcements from the pulpit. I’d done it all. Here’s the secret sauce to recruiting volunteers. People want to be asked. It can be a scary or feel presumptuous to step up and declare that you are qualified to work with teenagers. Many people won’t respond to announcement-style recruitment (and often if they do, they’re not who you want). If you see someone that you feel would be a good fit with your youth ministry, ask him or her directly. It sounds so simple because it is.

Use these as guidelines and before you know it you’ll have an incredible volunteer team building awesome relational momentum in your ministry.

Getting Past Church Language



By Kathy Jackson

Yesterday, I made a decision to write a blog entry for the 30 Hour Famine. When I started praying about what I had to offer, God presented me with several things. Being human, I forgot several of the things he offered me.  I discovered that I am going to have to write things down so that I can remember what he has shown me.

So, tonight while sitting at our family dinner my “adopted” son and our German exchange student were talking about their day at school. Our son was telling a story about how sad he thought it was that some students in his group were in a discussion about some things that he thought should just be common knowledge to everyone. The question came up in this group “who chopped down the cherry tree?” (Even though we know this is a false part of history, everyone knows the answer). Every other student in his group said “Abe Lincoln”. He was shocked! He knew that story was attributed to George Washington.  The other students were sure of their answer because Lincoln was known as “Honest Abe.”  They thought the quote “I cannot tell a lie” was Lincoln’s also. He just didn’t understand how these students didn’t know this—wasn’t it common knowledge?

As we continued our conversation I wondered if we as youth leaders allow misconceptions of our faith to continue unnoticed. Do our students really understand our “church” language? Do they really understand God’s grace? What about mercy? And do they really understand Jesus’ call to love one another? We use these words and think they are common knowledge in our church and youth groups. But do they really understand?  Unfortunately, in many schools today, our students are taught to memorize and take a test. Is this what we are expecting our students to do? Memorize and not practice?

How do we show our students that God’s love, mercy, and grace are ours? I believe one way is living in community during mission trips. When living out our lives with our students in community, we can show this to them in all places.  We must be intentional in pointing out where we see it, offer it, use it.  We must also ask our students to do the same. As we come together at the end of the day, we always ask “Where did you see God today?” or “How did God use you today?”, or “Did you see God’s Love, mercy, or grace in someone else, today” If we are constantly asking and confirming in our student’s what they see and what we see in our everyday lives, it becomes second nature for them to recognize that God’s love, grace, and mercy are at work all the time.

I believe that as youth leaders, we are called to live this out with our students—to embed in them a deep-seated desire to see God things in all of life not just in youth group or church on Sunday mornings.

If I Were the Senior Pastor…



By Jake Kircher

It’s not uncommon for youth workers to feel some sort of disconnect from their Senior Pastors (See Doug Franklin’s book The Disconnect). Usually there is quite a generational gap as many senior leaders could be their youth workers parent or grandparent. There might be philosophical differences, different education backgrounds, and ministry experiences that at times don’t see eye to eye. And sometimes there’s a tension between the wisdom of what’s worked for years and what’s fresh and new.

I remember when I was younger and just starting out in ministry where I would run into these issues and find myself thinking, “If I were the senior pastor, I could do so much better.” I would vent to my wife or a mentor about how I would do X differently, or not do Y at all, or how we needed to start Z. Frankly, these statements reeked of arrogance, pride, and mostly naïveté.

See, it’s easy to look at our Senior Pastors from a distance and think that their jobs aren’t that hard and that we can do better. But what we need to remember is that compared to the issues and challenges that we face in ministry, in many scenarios the challenges they face are even greater.

In a recent podcast on politics Rob Bell talked about this hierarchy of leadership. He explained that the higher up you get in an organization (cashier to shift manager to store manager to owner) the problems and challenges get more and more complex. If the lower level staff person can solve the issue, in many cases the higher ups don’t even hear about it. But when they can’t, they pass it up to their boss. And if they can’t solve the problem, they go to their boss until it’s at the top.

This same thing often happens in a church.

I was reminded of this fact over the summer as I had two weeks where I was the only pastor in the office due to vacation schedules. The first week I was flying solo we had a family lose a child. I got the terrifying privilege of counseling them and helping plan their funeral (which I had somehow avoided doing in my previous 15-years in youth ministry!). Thankfully my Senior Pastor was back in time to do the homily.

The second week I was alone we had another death. And so I fully officiated my first funeral. This time for a man who didn’t come to our church and I didn’t know at all. The family described him as someone who “didn’t really care for church and religion at all,” but then asked me to say that he was a “silent servant for Christ.”

This was just two weeks this summer and only two of the many complex challenges I faced in that span; yet it was a huge reminder of the kind of things my senior pastor deals with on a regular basis.

Yes, we as youth workers deal with complaints, but I’d be willing to bet that our senior leaders probably deal with more of them. Yes, we have teens who are dealing with major issues, but our senior pastors are dealing with adults with major issues, and just because of the stakes at hand (jobs, mortgages, declining physical health and other adult responsibilities), they are often more complex and difficult. And yes, we may have different opinions about what our churches should be doing, but you can rest assured that our opinion is only one of the many, and conflicting for that matter, opinions that our senior leaders are hearing.

So the next time you want to complain and say, “If I were the Senior Pastor…”, stop and really think about that for a moment. Seeing things from their perspective, being proactive and asking them about the biggest challenges they face, will help you gain a different respect for them and what they do. It will challenge you to not complain, but instead finish that statement by asking, “…what kind of support and encouragement would I need to do my job?” And as you respond to that question, take your answers and go and do those things for the senior leaders that you serve with.

What I Learned from Leaving Youth Ministry



By Paul Martin

Up until recently I was what some people would have called “a lifer.” As far as youth ministry was concerned I had no other ambitions in life. I wanted to retire at some point from a youth ministry role and never have any other job to claim my time. That didn’t work out the way I imagined.

At age 45, after serving teenagers and families for almost two decades, I realized it was time to tap out. There were a lot of reasons that informed that decision, but those are for another post. After leaving my time working for the church, I found myself on the other side of the curtain. I felt like Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz, while all the magic was happening, I wasn’t behind the scenes anymore.

It has been a jarring experience dropping my two daughters off for youth group instead of being there to greet them when they arrived. I found myself sending them to someone else to help them grow their faith. I had no idea what the next big event was. I confess, I was a little more than shell-shocked.

But God was good enough to me to let me land in safe waters. The youth ministry my daughters beg to go to – that’s right, they beg – is an amazing place, just like so many great youth ministries. They are welcomed and loved, cared for and challenged.

Here are my takeaways for learning to be a youth ministry parent.

Be That Guy (or Girl)

I remember so many times I met with parents as a youth pastor. The majority of them were great. Most parents just want to ask a question or get some help. I decided I wanted to be that kind of parent.

The first week after my daughters attended youth group, I went to the church website. I was shocked that the middle school page was completely blank. Blank, as in, there was the church header and footer with nothing in between. Not one word.

So I decided to be that guy – the type of parent that just wants some help. I emailed the youth director and gently pointed out that I couldn’t find anything on the site and was just curious about what happens in the ministry. It was great, and I learned a lot.

Don’t Be That Guy (or Girl)

I also remember some other times when parents would contact me. They were mad or frustrated, usually about something completely unrelated, and wanted to vent on someone. I decided I didn’t want to be that guy.

I realized after the fact about something happened at one of the youth meetings my daughters were in. It was a little tiff between one of my daughters and another student. Not a big thing, but pretty upsetting to my daughter.

I’ll admit, my feelings were all over the place. I could have called and vented. Instead, I chose to be patient. I waited until the next day, at a reasonable hour for youth workers, and called the director. I just wanted to make him aware of what my daughter reported and ask to see if he could help. This guy was gold. He said he actually wanted to talk to me and see what could be worked out.

Choose Your Path

What I learned in a few short months outside of youth ministry could probably fill several books. But here’s the best part of my story so far. I decided on a new role for myself as a youth ministry parent. I am a cheerleader.

I’ve seen so many amazing things happening in my family’s life because of my church’s youth ministry. We were in serious need after leaving a ministry with sore feelings, moving to another state and starting over again. My daughters really needed to feel some sense of stability and grounding. They needed to have fun and make new friends. This youth group did so much to help us. All I had to do was tell our story.

So that’s what I did. It started with a short, minute and a half conversation with the Senior Pastor. He asked me how I found the church, and I told him it was from a friend who said they had a welcoming youth group, but I also snuck in a couple of compliments while I was at it. It started something.

I’ve now written or called almost everyone on staff at the church. I’m the chief encourager. It’s a complete role shift for me. Instead of heading off problems in the ministry as the director, I can be a source of life for the leaders. I now realize there were parents like this in every ministry I served. I’m so thankful.

Thoughts About Waiting



By Brien Bell

If you’re anything like me you’re not a fan of waiting. As a culture we’re pretty bad at waiting in general. Whether it’s waiting for the clock to hit noon for lunch to being, or waiting months for the next iPhone to hit stores, or years for the next Star Wars movie, we’re really bad at waiting.

Youth ministry leadership is often a waiting game.

Sometimes it’s waiting in the challenging sense. Waiting for volunteers to sign up for an event, or waiting on parents to pick up their kids after a particularly tiring evening youth event. Waiting to see which kids have decided that it’s just not worth it to spend their time with you each week. Or waiting for that thirtieth hour of the Famine to come, not just for our own hungers but also for those we hunger in solidarity with.

Sometimes it’s waiting in the best sense. You’ve seen the stirrings of the Spirit; and now you’re waiting to find out how your students will respond. You’ve watched as the seeds of friendship have been planted between people who would seem unlikely to bond, and are waiting to watch that relationship grow.

As summer ends, I’ve found waiting to be particularly trying. It’s a time of vacation and service and not seeing my friends and students for nearly three months, aside from a pool party here or a Sunday service there. And waiting, for me, is often an anxious waiting, full of questions and doubts

Psalm 27 ends with this hopeful note, and a command:

I remain confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the Lord.

It’s an encouragement that our waiting is never in vain, whatever it is that we wait for. It’s not yet winter, but one thing we wait for as fall draws near is the season of Advent – a season of anticipation, of waiting, for the Lord to make His presence known. The Psalm reminds us that our waiting isn’t just for one season.

Be strong, take heart, and wait – the Lord’s favor is good, and it’s worth that patience.

Helping College Students Connect With a Church



By Shawn Kiger

I am currently wrapping up the summer and my efforts have turned towards school year activates ramping up in our youth ministry. I have started working out retreat dates, looking at what we are going to focus on this year program-wise, and starting to plan next summer’s mission trips. I am also making connections with the parents and students of new 6th grade students entering into the youth ministry. I love their nervous excitement they have as they come to youth group for the first time. The same can be said for our new 9th graders who get to move up into the high school ministry.

But I had a conversation this week that reminded me that there is one group of students that I shouldn’t forget about, and that’s our college students: those that have just graduated high school and going to college for the first time and those that are returning to college.

This week I talked with two of our college students who are beginning their junior year. They grew up in our church and were very active in the youth ministry. Now they are both involved in a church near their college campus. They have helped start a young adult ministry at this church and are regular attenders at worship on Sunday mornings. The pastor and I were asking them questions, because, in our experience it is unusual, unfortunately, that college students remain active in a church while in college. They talked to us about the experiences they had growing up in our church and the things in youth ministry that had the biggest impact on them.

So I asked them why they decided to remain involved in a church in college. One of them said that when she got to college, and after she figured out where her classes were and dorm life she began to feel like something was missing, especially on Sunday mornings. There were so many new things she were experiencing but something still didn’t feel right. Then she said our pastor suggested they go check out this church that is near campus where he knew the pastor. She and the other girl did and loved it.

Sometimes we get discouraged at the statistics of how many students abandon the church during their college years. But this conversation reminded me that sometimes all it takes is helping them make a connection. Just that little encouragement and showing them that their home church hasn’t forgotten about them and still cares for them. A little push to connect them to a church near campus. In this case it was not only a blessing to them but also to the church they have become involved in.

Welcoming New Parents



By Keely DeBoever

Kick-off season is upon us in the world of Youth Ministry. The chaos of summer is coming to an end, and Youth Ministry leaders barely have time to catch their breaths before the chaos of a new school year begins. One important component of the kick-off season is welcoming students—new and old; and where there are students, a parent or guardian is near by. It’s amazing how often we forget that!

As leaders, many of us live in the world of youth ministry every day. It can be easy for us to forget that the rest of the world is not as well-versed in faith-based/church-specific lingo, why faith-based programs and events are important for a student developing their faith, or adolescent culture as a whole.  If we take a beat to remind ourselves of that, we will be doing a huge favor to our church families (and to ourselves).

Here are a few tips about how to welcome these new families effectively:

1. Explain the lingo! It can feel incredibly isolating to be a part of a parent or student meeting when the leader is using what seems like another language.  The leader may feel like they are being welcoming…after all they are inviting you to be a part of something.  However, if you can’t figure out what you’re being invited to, it doesn’t do a whole lot of good.  Here is what NOT to do: We want to invite all Confirmands to come to UMYF in the COVE!  Unless you’ve been raised in the Methodist church your whole life, you may not know what any of that means…and some of it will be a blur, even if you have.  Shorthand and cool names are great, as long as you are in on their meaning!  Churches are notorious for making this mistake.  Even something like “30 Hour Famine” will need to be followed up with a clear explanation of the event!

2. Answer the WHY of Youth Ministry! Parents of youth are not looking for filler on their kids’ schedules. If anything, most of them have a hard time fitting everything in. If we don’t take time to explain why our time with their students is important, parents will relegate youth group activities to the bottom of the list (and who can blame them?). It is also not enough for us to say the “why” out loud; as Youth Leaders, we must work hard to make the most of the time we have with our students to support the claim. Honor your church families’ time well so that they see the importance of Youth Ministry without feeling over-burdened by one more thing on their calendar.

3. Educate and Support! This is one place where I failed my youth parents for a long time. I felt like I had little authority on youth because I was young and had no children of my own. Eventually, I got over myself and realized that I worked with teenagers every day and was a student of their behavior.  Often times, parents are floating in uncharted territory (especially 1st time parents of teenagers).  They are desperate for something to hold on to and we, as youth leaders, are more equipped than we realize.  Send them a life preserver from time-to-time.  Share what you know about the stages of adolescence. If you run across tools that you think would be helpful, share them. I started offering copies of driving and cell-phone contracts, handouts that shared tips for having “The Talk,” and other helpful documents at parent meetings. I would gather information from more authoritative sources to help offset that “what do I know” feeling. I was amazed at how many parents utilized those resources and were thankful to have them.  Most importantly, we must remember that we are there to minister to parents, as well as youth.

So, as you plan your calendars and get together all of the information that you will be giving out at your kick-off events, don’t forget these three things.  The majority of our students are still pretty dependent on their parents; because of this, it benefits us greatly to keep them in mind when launching into a new ministry year!

How to Keep the 30 Hour Famine Fresh



By Jen Bradbury

The first year I did the 30 Hour Famine, I was super excited about it. It was a new event to me – one I’d never participated in when I was in high school. It sounded fun, engaging, and impactful. And it was!

The second year I did the 30 Hour Famine, I was still super excited about it. Since last participating in the Famine I’d begun ministry at a new church. So even though the Famine was no longer new to me, it was new to my students, who were super excited (and also a little intimidated) by it.

The third year I did the 30 Hour Famine, I was a little less excited about it. It was still hugely impactful for my teens but it felt a little old to me.

The fourth year I did the 30 Hour Famine, I was even less excited about it. By then, I knew how to run a Famine. The problem is, it just felt tired to me. I feared that after multiple years of doing it, my students were also growing tired of it. How, I wondered, do you keep the same event – especially one as important as the Famine – from feeling stale?

Over the years, here are 7 strategies I’ve used to keep the 30 Hour Famine fresh each time.

1. Focus on a different region of the world each year. To help teens understand hunger is a global issue, each time you participate in the Famine, focus on a different region of the world. Study that region. Play a trivia game about it. Show a movie featuring that part of the world. If possible, invite someone from that region to come do a Q&A.

2. Find different ways to communicate the scale of global hunger. Part of the beauty of the 30 Hour Famine is how it exposes students to the extent of global hunger. Each year, help teens visualize this issue differently. Some of my favorite ways of doing this have been

  • Extinguishing candles or dropping rocks in a jar (the sound is haunting). Each represent a certain amount of children who die from hunger-related diseases each day.
  • Creating a mural of handprints or a pot of crosses made out of pipe cleaners. Each represents a certain amount of people who are hungry everyday.

The scale of global hunger makes it hard to comprehend. Creatively representing the problem’s scale makes a meaningless statistic real for students and your congregation, since most of these things can later be displayed in worship to draw even more awareness to the issue.

3. Investigate different Scripture passages. The Bible has a LOT to say about justice and serving others. Yet, the only passage we use at the Famine is the separation of the sheep and the goats in Matthew 25. Instead of revisiting the same passage every year, mix it up. Here are a few of my favorite passages to explore during the Famine:

  • Isaiah 58: True Fasting
  • John 6: Jesus as the bread of life
  • Matthew 14:13-21: Jesus feeds the 5000
  • Luke 14:15-24: The parable of the great banquet
  • James 1:19-27: True religion
  • James 2:14-26: Faith & deeds

4. Do a different service project each year. Doing the same service project can help you cultivate relationships. But it can also start to feel predictable. So change it up every once in a while. Alternate between two projects. Or every third year, do something different.

5. Invite students to share their experience in different ways. One year, invite students to share their testimony in worship. The next, create a video of your event featuring student testimonies and share it in worship or on social media. Another year, have students post live updates to your congregation’s social media accounts. Another year, print pictures and have students create a display showcasing your event.

6. Break the fast differently. Eat different foods at your break the fast meal (when possible, eat foods from the region you’ve been learning about). Some years, conclude with worship and communion. Other years, finish with a party. Some years, invite participants’ families to join you. Other years, open your celebration up to your entire congregation.    

7. Utilize student coordinators. Nothing can breathe new energy into a tired event faster than a student’s energy and passion. Each year during the Famine, keep your eyes open for a student who’s particularly engaged. Invite that student to work with you to coordinate next year’s Famine.

By tweaking your Famine in minor ways each year, you can keep it fresh and help ensure students will take away something different each year. That way they (and you!) will remain eager to participate in the Famine year after year.

Biking for World Hunger



16-year-old Noah Sorensen felt compelled to do something tangible about hungry children. And he found a way to connect something he’s good at – riding a bicycle – to the need he wanted to impact. In Noah’s own words:

I am passionate about solving world hunger, and I want to use my talents to make an impact. I don’t have the resources or the knowledge to go overseas and teach hygiene and agriculture, but I can bike like crazy!

This summer, Noah is riding his bike 5000 miles across the US in an attempt to raise $15,000. He started in Portland, rode down the west coast to LA, then headed east. We asked Noah if we could share one of his recent blog posts, from days 23 – 26 of his ride. These are his unedited words:


I survived Nebraska.

That should be a sticker or something, that cyclists can put on their helmet or panniers after going through Nebraska. They had “I survived the loneliest road in America” pamphlets and stickers and such for people who traversed Nevada in their cars, and biking across Nebraska is far more difficult than driving across Nevada. Someone work on that.

Nebraska is hot. And humid. Though it was on average 10-12 degrees cooler than Nevada, the degree of humidity made it so much less bearable. Not to mention, the roads are long, straight and full of the same old nothing. The towns are deceivingly small. When approaching the towns from 5-10 miles away, they all look like they could potentially have a rest stop, gas station, or at least somewhere to hide away in the shade. Most are accompanied by huge grain silos and processing plants. From a bit away, they look somewhat like large buildings, but as you get closer, you realize they hold far fewer people than an office building. Several towns had populations of less than 400.

I have been learning some good lessons throughout the past few days.

Number one– never toast bagels with a cook stove. They don’t taste right.

Number two– don’t take into account the advice of a local any more than the advice of someone else on the road. Local Nebraskans will warn you about the “huge hills” ahead. I had several even stop on the side of the road and cheer me on up some of the hills. They aren’t that big. They really aren’t. There are alot, but they’re all less than half a mile long. Everyone here has also told me the wind will always be in my favor. That’s not even close to true. I haven’t had a headwind for more than five minutes since Denver. I have been pushing into a constant NE wind for several days now. It doesn’t look like it will subside anytime soon either.

Number three– there are a ton of things I can’t control, I just need to go with whatever happens. Heat, wind, flat tires, humidity, hills, humidity, rain, wind, humidity, you get the point. I can’t control these things. They happem, they persist, but in the end, I’ll make it through. No matter what ends up happening, I always make it through the day.

I’ve been in four different states since I last posted. Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, and Iowa -I even passed another time zone border. In just a few days, I’ll be back on eastern time, and even closer to home.

From cope to McCook was about 140 miles. I tried my best to take it easy and slow, but I ended up totally killing myself. I was so anxious to be done with the day I pushed through the last two hours or so. It wasn’t a terrific idea. The next day, I was slammed by wind, and utter fatigue from the previous day, and I only made it halfway to Hastings. I meant to do that in one day, but ended up taking two full days to get to Hastings, where I then took an unplanned day off to let myself recuperate and prepare for the hiller next few days. After Hastings it was one easy day to Lincoln, and one more easy day to the beautiful campground I’m currently at in Iowa. It hasn’t been bad so far, but I’ve got a 125 mile day to des Moines, and then another 130+ day to Iowa city. I think I’ll take a day off in Iowa city, depending on how I feel.

I have met some really cool people along the way. While in Kansas, I stopped in one town. It turned out the subway I was stopped at is where several of the church folk hang out after church and get lunch. I was greeted warmly, and had great conversation with a bunch of terrific people. I ended up modifying my route to McCook, because Google maps was trying to take me on some roads that everyone there deemed unridable. That was pretty awesome, because I had just missed the church service that I was trying to make it to. Secondly, I met a man in Holdrege that was absolutely selfless and generous. His mom was somehow friends with my great aunt whom I had spent the previous night with. I ended up staying with him, and getting a nice shower, a bed to sleep in, and all the food I could ever need. This was another one of those crazy God things that is just too crazy to call a coincidence. The last person I met was just today. I arrived at the campground at about seven in the evening. I was getting ready to pay for my camping, but didn’t have a ten. Since the camp office was right there, I figured they would have change for a twenty, so I walked over to ask. The camp manager has overheard me talking about my trip to some other fellow campers. Rather impressed with what I was doing, he offered me free camping, and directed me to the showers and electricity. After I had explored a while, I was stopped again when he came around with his truck. Apparently, there had been a cabin reserved, and then canceled just today. It had been completely paid for, but there was no one in it. He offered me a beautiful view of the lake, with AC, a microwave, refrigerator, couch, and two beds. All for free. This is the only thing allowing me to write this right now. It’s really one of the kindest things someone has done for me while I’ve been traveling. It’s definitely a blessing.

There’s so much more I’d love to write, but I can’t tell you all everything that happens. I’ve gotta make this trip somewhat for me. Lots of stuff happens. Just letting you all know I’m still alive, and doing well. Thanks for the never ending support.


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Aren’t teenagers awesome?