Saturday, September 19, 2009

Bark and Berry, ATServants, Caratunk, and prayers

Bark and Berry, ATServants, Caratunk, and Prayer... these are a few of my favorite things!

If you follow along with my blogging, you might surmise that I love the little town of Caratunk, Maine, and go up that way on lumber deliveries whenever I can. It is a wonderful place on it's own accord, but additionally has gained points with myself and others for having the Appalachian Trail coursing through it. It is also the site for the Kennebec Ferry, which shuttles the hikers safely across the Kennebec River. (This is the only river crossing on the A.T. that utilizes a ferryman, and the ferry is the official means of crossing the Kennebec when hiking the A.T.!)

You've likely noticed also, I have a fondness for ATServants Ministry. (PLEASE check them out online to find out more about their ministry!) One of the activities of their ministry is to send forth missionarys to the Appalachian Trail to act as Trail Chaplains and SERVANTS... Love those folks!

Bark and Berry... well, they are this years' Trail Chaplains! They are a young married couple who are committed to hiking the Appalachian Trail and acting as witnesses for Jesus Christ. They do this by "walking the walk" alongside other hikers, letting them see Christ through them, and "talking the talk" when the opportunity presents itself. They keep a great online journal, through which I am able to share their journey. (You can also access the journal through the ATServants website). Great people, great read!

I am also an advocate of prayer! This is the most important thing we can do as Christians... we pray for all kinds of things, like safety, health, provision for our needs... we pray for others, also, for likewise things... we pray for our parents, our children, our friends. Most importantly, and many times overlooked, is that we need to pray that all we say and do would Glorify God! We really need to be careful in what we say, do, and pray for...

Now, I'll tie it all together... I've been following ATServants for a while now. I pray for an effective ministry, and that they are winning souls for Christ. Most recently, I have followed along (through their journal) with Bark and Berry, as they have moved steadily Northward, edging closer to Maine, and Mt Katahdin. I have prayed for their safety, for "easy" hiking, good weather, other hikers to witness to, and that I might possibly get to meet them somewhere in Maine... yeah, that last prayer was pretty much selfish... So... Ahem! Yes... They were doing quite well, and in my last blog I told how I was in Stratton, helping a few hikers and looking for Bark and Berry. They weren't going to make it to Stratton that day, but I managed to get their number from Duckman, and left a message with them. I was in hopes that they would call me when coming into Little Bigelow Lean-to, or perhaps Pleasant Pond Lean-to, where I might meet with them...

I guess I have to confess that I was more than a little excited at the possibility of meeting Bark and Berry! And, I guess that I have to admit that my prayers for them were overshadowed by my selfish prayer for me. Yes. I guess that in the next few days I didn't pray so much for their safety, their hiking, the weather, or their ministry. I did focus a lot more on praying that they would call me, that I would meet them, that I would have time and gas to get to wherever they called from. (actually, the time and gas prayer turned out to be pretty good!).

Some prayers got answered on Thursday! I got a call from Bark at 4:00PM. I asked where they were, and the answer was Caratunk! Great! I'd be able to meet up with them, probably at Pleasant Pond Lean-to!... No, said Bark... He needed to get to a hospital instead. I needed to refocus.

I was in Fairfield, a pretty good drive to Caratunk, but I promised to finish my business ASAP and pick them up at the Post Office. When I arrived their backpacks were at the entrance to the Post Office, but they were not. A nice lady, Marie Beane, walked toward me, from the house across the road. She asked if I was "Stickman", and I answered in the affirmative. She then asked if I had left a Scripturestick at her door two years ago. I turned, pointing at the door to the Post Office, and asked, "That door?". Yes! Cari had left it as a free gift to whoever retrieved it at the Post Office door. She thanked me for the stick, saying that she had been all this time wondering who to thank. Well, you're welcome Mrs. Beane, I am pleased you are in posession of it.

Marie asked me to come to the house with her, where she was taking good care of Bark and Berry, providing a wonderful meal, and offering up showers and laundry. What a wonderful lady! I believe it was all of God! After introductions all around, and a couple of pictures taken, we were ready to head for the Hospital, but invited to come back anytime. Thanks, Marie!

I'll wrap this up quickly... We got to the Hospital by 7:00PM, with Bark being seen by a Doctor in short order. It seems he has a pretty good infection in both legs, and was running a bit of a temp. My wife, Cari, was just getting off work, in admitting, and came down to meet the hikers. After Bark was finished, and with prescriptions in hand, we headed off to a motel to let them get settled in. I was still excited to meet them and was wanting to talk... my wife saved them from me, and they were able to shut the door... since then they have gone to a less expensive motel, and we were able to provide them with a computer and a guitar, and mostly let them rest. They are planning to attend services with me at Crossroads Bible Church (this morning), while Cari is at the New Portland Fair, with the ScriptureSticks.

I am no less happy to have been able to meet Bark and Berry, and am thankful to provide whatever assistance that Cari and I are able to... but I am sorry that it was under trying times for Bark and Berry. I will say, though, that Bark and Berry have shown much faith and grace under pressure, leaving their ultimate fate up to the Lord, and accepting that He is in control...

So, would you all join me in praying for Bark and Berry? Let's pray for Barks' quick and full healing, and that he and Berry will return to the trail refreshed. Let's pray for their safety, for "easy" hiking, good weather, and for other hikers to witness to... And let's pray that all we say and do would Glorify God!

God Bless you Bark. God Bless you Berry. God Bless you all!



Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Wandering and wondering...Who is hiking where, in Maine?

Hi everyone!

Sorry I have been a little slow in getting a new entry posted. It isn't that I didn't have anything to talk about,( probably KNOW that I like to talk!).

It's just that I've been so BUSY! ( probably ALSO KNOW that I am a GREAT PROCRASTINATOR!)

With that out of the way, let's see what "trails" I've been down lately. Let's see, there is gardening, which I don't mind, since we are strongly into the harvesting side of the season. Mowing... not as often! The grass has slowed it's growth greatly, and I will enjoy not having to mow as much, at least up until snow flies! Family is always keeping us on our toes, especially the grand-children. We had a special time two weeks ago, as Cari's brother Tim, and his wonderful wife, Robin... wait a minute... Tim might read this... OK, YOU'RE wonderful TOO, Tim! (They are BOTH wonderful!)...let's continue... They made the trip up from Tennessee to attend Tim's Class Reunion, and then spent some time with us, too. We had a great time, and enjoyed some time up around The Forks, and Moxie, trying to give Robin her first Maine Moose sighting experience. We never got to see one, but Robin DID see someone in a MOOSE COSTUME at the I95 toll booth, as they were leaving Maine! We did take a little side trip up to Pleasant Pond Lean-to, to see if there were any hikers around. Not seeing any, I tied off two bags of Marshmallows to the mouse-deterring food hangers, just in case some hikers stopped by. We then scooted up the blue-blazed lean-to access trail to where it joined the white-blazed Appalachian Trail. We walked a little ways on the A.T., always an exciting feeling, no matter how far you venture. On our return to the Lean-to, we found a hiker, "Space Cowboy", and we got to chat for just a bit. That was a couple of Sundays ago, (the 6th?). We all had a wonderful time.

This past week (Sunday), I took a trip up to Stratton. I have been wanting to meet Bark and Berry, this years' Trail Chaplains for the ATServants Ministry. I had been following their Journal, and they had made it into Rangely. My figuring was that they MAY be in Stratton on Sunday. Well, I never did see them, but I got to see a bunch of other hikers, and play "Trail Angel" for a few hours. They told me that Bark and Berry would be another day or two before reaching Stratton, and I managed to get their phone # from one of the hikers. I was able to leave a message, (and the next day recieved a return call from Bark), and have not given up hope of meeting them, perhaps at Little Bigelow, or Pleasant Pond Lean-to.

I made the most of my afternoon at Stratton, being honored to pick up the tab for a hungry hiker's meal, and shuttling several of them from the trailhead to town. I met "Duckman", "Star Trek", "Pellet", "BoShag", "In Deep", "Son", "The Hiking Poles", and others. I met "Son" on a fluke. I was heading out of town, intending to return to Madison, and quickly decided to hike a bit instead. I swung back into the trailhead, grabbed a ScriptureStick, and hurried up the trail. After about an hour of fast hiking uphill, I stopped for a quick rest. I was wheezing like an old steam engine, as I have been battling a tough cold for about a month, and it has taken up (permanent?) residence in my lungs. I got back up after a couple of minutes, and started to move uptrail. I realized that there was a hiker coming my way, and that he was blazing fast! I was able to stop him, although he did so a little reluctantly. He had a good head of steam, and was making the miles. He was "Son", counterpart to "Father", of the Father and Son hikers. I asked where his father was, and found that it was impossible for Father to catch Son before Katahdin. He was waaaay back, and not quite as fast. Son did say though, that he thought his father was in the best shape of his life, at age 47! Son and I talked for a few minutes, and he told me that he had done the "four state challenge", where hikers cover over 40 miles in a single day, to stepping foot in Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania! Amazing! He said he intends to pull off a 50 mile stretch in 24 hours before he finishes at Katahdin, figuring the last 50 miles of the 100 mile wilderness is the place he can do it. I know I couldn't do it!

I turned around, to follow him back to the trailhead. He said that I could lead, or he would try to slow down for me. I told him to go, and I would see him at the parking area, and that I had cold soda in the truck. I tried to keep up... after all, he was WALKING... OK, he was walking VERY FAST! I picked up my pace, and he was pulling away. I began to JOG! He was pulling away! ...and he was STILL WALKING!!! I have never seen anyone move so fluidly, especially hiking downhill on sometimes steep and rugged terrain. He was gone... but a little while later I caught up with him, as he was doing a "damage check", after taking a bit of a tumble. No real harm done, he was up, and we were away. He did slow down considerably, allowing me to stay with him, even conversing a bit. When we got to the trailhead, I found that my hour-long uphill hike had taken only a half-hour on the return trip. It is not easy terrain, even hiking downhill, so we were still moving right along. He was impressed that I hiked as fast as I did! He shared with me that he is likely one of the three fastest hikers on the trail right now, and I am honored that he took time to let me hike with him for a bit.

One more trip into Stratton, with "Son". He Grabbed a quick slice of pizza, then I whisked him back to the trail. I looked up trail... reluctantly, I forced the truck onto the road, pointed towards home...

Well, I'd like to keep typing, but... word is "possible frost" through this evening, and I'd better cover some of the veggies. Thank you all for checking in, and may God Bless you all!