4 April 2019 - Sautee Nacoochee, GA
You can’t make this stuff up.
That’s part of what I was excited about, long before I ever I began this walk - the things… the hard-to-fathom things… that would happen on the walk.
This past Monday, a fellow Peace Corps volunteer and a man who taught at the same high school that I did in Portsmouth, Dominica (1982-1984) - Orlando Balcarcel - left Lansing, Michigan, where he still teaches high school students, and headed to Knoxville, Tennessee. He has friends there who he hadn’t seen in a while, and he stayed with them for two nights. But he was also on a quest to find me, somewhere along the route. This being done, mind you, by a man who doesn’t have a cell phone and doesn’t do social media! Orlando made contact with me by phone at 1 pm yesterday while I was walking, he found me at 2:45 pm, and then he waited another 45 minutes for me to finish the last two miles or so of my day’s journey. We hugged, we took some pictures, he met my friend, Sam Buice, who, with his wife, Margaret, is hosting me in northeast Georgia right now. (Sam and I were seminary classmates for three years at Virginia Theological Seminary, 1988-1991.) Just as I was asking Orlando if he could stay for the night, he told me that he needed to begin heading back toward Knoxville, so that he could get home to Michigan by today. He gave me a generous donation, which he said was from his mother and him. He assured his mom that he would put the money in my hand. That’s what he did, and then he got in his car and headed back home. I just read an email saying that he made it back home today.
So, to recap, a man I had not seen in the flesh since December, 1984, drove all the way from Michigan to see for himself what I was up to, visited with me for about 15 minutes, and then drove back home! I told Orlando that I was so inspired by what he had done, and tried to convey how much it meant to me. He is inspired by what I am doing, and I am inspired by his response!
Yesterday I also spotted a sign on my walk that read “Julia Strong, LCSW - Psychotherapy.” Most of you are aware that Julia, my wife, is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and has been a psychotherapist for over 30 years.
Today I walked 18 miles and right up and into Sam and Margaret’s home in Sautee Nacoochee, Georgia. Had you heard of it? No, me neither. Their lovely home is in the woods, with beautiful decks, and a creek running right behind it. It seems like the perfect home for Sam and Margaret, and now I get to stay with them for a while.
Yesterday, after my walk, Sam drove me to Helen, Georgia. In our world, Helen was Julia’s mom, and she is one of our three parents who had died and is traveling with me in spirit. Today I walked on a road named Preacher Campbell, and Campbell is the name of my 17-year-old great-niece who is waging a very courageous battle with cancer.
You can’t make this stuff up. I don’t know what it all means, and it will take some time, perhaps even a good while, to integrate what I am seeing, experiencing, and learning. Crazy stuff happens, people do some crazy things, and I find that God is in the midst of it.