Here we are in North Jackson, Ohio, just northwest of Poland/Boardman. We are staying with another family, the Clarks, the parent-in-laws of a good friend of mine at Wesley Seminary. First of all, the fact that parent-in-laws of a friend would be willing to host us, the night after people we don't even know hosted us graciously for two days, is extremely amazing to me. Truly amazing.
Today has been a day full of support. I can't help but think that God is trying to tell me that the emotional and spiritual lows that I've been experiencing are somewhat unwarranted. People are out there who care and are willing to put in the effort to support me and everything this trip stands for. I'm still dealing with questions and doubts, particularly in my personal life, but I feel a little rejuvenated, even after a 80-mile and very humid day full of adventures.
The Mudraks sent us off this morning, telling us to be careful of storms that were coming in this afternoon (I will be posting a picture of our most excellent hosts soon), which we are thankful for because we just barely beat them out. Not long after leaving the house I noticed that some of my gears felt funny; the chain felt loose and was wobbling out of control. Thomas and I decided to wait until we reached our next destination to give it a full look-over because I could still use all of my lower gears and some others without much trouble. About five or ten miles later, however, the rear shifter totally fell apart and almost ruined the chain. Almost immediately Thomas realized that a part had broken off the shifter and it was unusable, so he started getting out his bike while I Thomas my emergency contacts in the outside world. I didn't know that Thomas planned to ride his bike while I made the call, but it didn't matter what I realized because he was ready to go. He was supposed to ride part of the day anyway because we've come to terms with the fact that I just can't do some bridges due to my fear of heights. But now he had taken it upon himself to ride an extra thirty or so miles while I worked everything out.
Thank God for Maggie and Rob Ulmer, my emergency contacts, back-up blog writers, and surrogate family from Wesley Seminary. When I called they were both right on top of getting me the information for bike shops and telling me that they were praying for me based on what I wrote about yesterday and for the trip in general, and within minutes I was talking to bike shops to see if they had the parts that I needed. I won't ever be able to thank Rob and Maggie enough, they're like my lifeline on Who Wants to be a Millionaire, always prepared to help out with whatever I need. I don't know how they do it, but they're great people.
And then the people at the bike shop were incredibly nice. Thomas and I are going to write a review of both bike shops that have helped us out in the near future (probably tomorrow) and then post them here. After Thomas had biked over the bridges, we traded places and Thomas rushed on ahead to get the bike fixed. Not two hours later my darling Cato was as good as new. The bike shop gave us the part for free and installed the part for free, with no wait at all. So I was able to ride Cato for the last couple of hours of the day and it was glorious.
Then, of course, the Clarks are another gracious host, willing to open their house to us despite the fact that we know each through the friend of a friend, basically.
From the Mudraks, to Thomas, to the Ulmers, to the bike shop peeps, to the Clarks, we have had nothing but lots of support today. And boy did we need it. Because of all the people I've named, we were able to deal with a broken bike and terrifying storms (wind is nice, but when it becomes really windy and such before the hitting of a storm, it really slows me down and I don't like it!) without losing much time at all. We had planned on a 9-4 day... and we had a 9-4 day.
Thank you to everyone. You will not be forgotten, especially not in my prayers. And thank you to Becky Weamer for suggesting to stay with her parent-in-laws tonight. Thank you, thank you, thank you.