Russell, KS to Colorado!!
My journey with Barrett began with my uncle dropping me off on the side of the road near Russell, KS on one of many 110˚ days! After my first full day we returned to the home of our awesome host, Jed Strnad. We carried our things down to the basement where we would be spending the next few nights. I promptly fell asleep on the couch! When it was time for dinner, I attempted to walk up the stairs but my body would NOT work quite properly, so I proceeded to walk up the stairs on all fours as Barrett laughed unashamedly (and rightfully so!) at my incredible soreness. As you can see, I ended up with some horrific blisters, but besides those, I was blessed with great health the whole time, for which I’m thankful. However, even greater than any physical up or down were the relationships we were able to form, the incredible hospitality we were shown, and God’s faithfulness displayed in magnificent ways.
Barrett describes Kansas as the most relaxing state he’s walked through, and I totally believe it! You can see for miles in every direction, see the breeze blow over the fields, and feel a deep sense of peace. One of the best parts about my time walking was the amazing balance between solitude and meeting new people. We could spend the day listening to lectures, sermons, music, or just in silence while at night we would get to meet awesome new people and get a glimpse into different communities.
On July 24th we made our way into Hays, KS. We spent multiple nights with the Glover family and had an absolute blast with their 6 kids (all elementary school and below!) swimming, wrestling, and playing games. Our time with them really hit home for us because three of Jake and Amy’s children were adopted from Haiti. Haiti is one of the places The Global Orphan Project does incredible work in, maintaining sewing centers and caring for children in orphanages. We got to experience first hand with these awesome kids what love in action looks like, and the hope that these children in Hays, Kansas were experiencing. Saying that this re-energized us would be an understatement!
To top it off, Jake wanted to come out and walk with us for a day but unfortunately he couldn’t get any free day that week. So, what’s the logical thing to do? You guessed it: walk through the night! This turned out to be a blast. After a full day of walking we left that night (or morning) at 2am to get our 17 miles in! We had great conversation that night and ended our walk seeing a beautiful Kansas sunrise. This made for the longest day (24 hours) of the walk: 33 miles!!
We made tracks on the peaceful gravel roads adjacent to interstate 70, and man, did the towns seem far apart! One particular day we were walking near Quinter, KS when a man named Ben pulled up next to us to ask if we needed help or if we were just crazy (guess which one!?). At this time we were also walking with Jeff & Beki Lee who decided to join us for the first 2 days of their honeymoon!! After we explained to Ben that we were only partially crazy, he decided to pick us up at the next town and bring us to his place for lunch! (which was way better than the Quinter high school reunion we walked in on…) Ben and his family were very generous and we ended up seeing them again at the church we shared with that Sunday.
One thing that was so incredible about this walk was the hospitality we experienced from total strangers. On July 30th we reached Oakley, KS where we stayed with Murray and Janet Bean, who very quickly felt like family to us. The Beans were so eager to spoil us, serve us, show us the area, and fatten us with their great cooking- homemade pasta from their own eggs! It was a blessing and a reminder of how we ought to welcome and serve people in any situation. Plus, an awesome high school dude, Mike came out and walked with us all day! It was a blessing to pray, chat, and walk through blistering temperatures with a young man who is allowing God to guide him through such a tough and exciting time!
Our last stop before Colorado was in Goodland, KS. Here was an example of true provision. A lady named Carol, contacted us through Facebook and told us we had a place to stay with a guy named Josh Simon in Goodland. We arrived at Josh’s house and after an hour of chatting he asked Barrett, “So how do you guys know Carol?” Barrett told him we didn’t know her, and he said he didn’t either! She had found him on Facebook the week before and asked if he would host us, and Josh said yes! Incredible! After another night with Josh’s friends Jacob and Leslie, we made the momentous cross into Colorado!!!
August 5th, Colorado!
Seven states down, four to go! If you think about it (or even if you don’t) Colorado is a loooooong way from Miami! Getting into Colorado was a huge milestone, but also a little unnerving with knowledge of the terrain that was to come.