Travels with John & Fred -- Part One
Trip Two -- Oct - Nov 2005 (Our first trip together was in 2000, so we can't call this trip one.)
John Bunting and I set out on our first trip together in five years last October (2005) and we've been going ever since. This is just a brief summary of where we've been and who we've seen. I've taken hundreds of pictures and we'll post some of them soon on the website.
We took off first to Ohio. Stopping in Columbus first, seeing our old friend Bob Crawford, then on to a town near Cleveland, Medina, where two different sets of folks hosted us for a night and some great talks in the Lord.
From there we had a wonderfully scenic ride through northern Pennsylvania and New York, crossing into Canada at Buffalo, and then having lunch at Niagara Falls, which neither of us had seen before. That's a LOT of water!
We spent about 10 days in gorgeous Ontario, hosted for a lot of the time by our new friend of the past couple of years, Nancy Thompson and her husband Dan. She had some meetings planned, but the Lord had other plans. Apparently He wanted Dan & Nancy to be more acquainted with some of their local plumbers, because the day of our arrival certain vital plumbing systems decided enough was enough, and what was supposed to go out wouldn't go out anymore. So a truly international crew showed up and proceeded to dig up their basement with jackhammers and picks and shovels. I know it was pretty difficult (and expensive) for Dan & Nancy but they kept their sense of humor and as in everything, we saw the hand of the Lord in it. We were able also to visit others in Ontario, the Hatchells in Woodstock, Derek & Iris Taylor in Toronto, and managed to completely surprise some old friends who we hadn't seen in nearly 20 years, our dear Richard and Helen Price. Many from the past will remember that Richard led our singing at the Louisville meeting for several years. Everywhere we went, of course, we were able to share as the Lord gave us opportunity, and we felt like we met our first named goal of our trips: to encourage the brethren.
We even managed to stop in at WEC headquarters in Hamilton, ONT, where we were invited by the director to have lunch with the missionary trainees and workers. After having read about WEC for many years, it was a delight for me to have a first-hand experience of it and to see their wonderful zeal for getting the gospel out where Christ isn't named. We had a great chat with Henry, the director, and then off we went.
After leaving Ontario we headed all the way across New York into Massachusetts to finally arrive in Sudbury Connecticut, visiting some of our longest-known friends, Jack & Alice Corcoran. We spent time with their family as well as having the opportunity to share Christ in us with a couple of meetings. This was the time of the height of the fall foliage and we couldn't have been in the area at a more beautiful time. Jack & Alice drove us across to the other side of Connecticut (which didn't turn out to be that far) to meet with a wonderful lady pastor and her friend, where we were able again to share the things the Lord has given us. Our last day with them they drove us again to another town, where we had a great house meeting with Lynn Rugh who invited some friends in.
From there John & I headed down and spent the night with my daughter's in-law in Brooklyn, NY. Was that an education for me? I'd never been to New York City before except a brief drive-through 20+ years ago, and boy what a place. We had a great night with John & Isabel, who thankfully drove John & I to the freeway early the next morning. We had gotten lost twice the night before trying to find their house, and if Isabel hadn't driven us to the freeway, we two country boys from Kentucky might still be there, like Charlie riding the MTA.
That took us to our final destination, where we spent more than a week -- the Washington DC area. We had a number of folks to see and to share with every day. Different people every day. We saw our old friends Tony & Bette Ketcham in Bowie MD. We spent one night sharing with some folks we had met from Africa. We got to spend time with a truly deightful man, Roy Cook, who has been instrumental in the Presidential/National Prayer Breakfasts for years and years, and we even took in the sights one afternoon. We only got lost three times, but only one of those was a real doozy. Still, even in getting lost (which we are good at) we were always where we were supposed to be, and the Lord -- well, He's the God of the Lost as well as the God of those who know where they are. Either way, we had no worries.
Finally, our last day in early November, we met with our last scheduled person, and of course nothing could have delighted us more to see Burt Rosenburg walking up to the Starbucks where we were waiting for him. We had our maps spread out on the table, trying to figure out the best way to get out of the DC area without getting stuck in traffic, as well as the best route back to Louisville. We were planning to drive straight through, since we were anxious after three weeks to get back home. So we started looking at the maps together, with Burt offering sage advice on which roads, highways, and interstates to take. Everything seemed fine and on the up and up (it's Burt we're dealing with here) until John asked Burt, "Is this the route you always take?" Burts says, "Who me? No, I've NEVER driven it. I always fly!" That's our Burt!
And with that funny send-off, we began our trek. We were going great guns, too, thinking we had escaped the rush-hour traffic, but it seems it had all gone ahead of us and we caught up with every car in Washington DC all stopped together and sitting still many miles up the road, waiting on us apparently. DC wasn't going to let us go all that easily! Eventually the jam broke up and we were on our way. Until -- the oil light in John's VW Passat began coming on. By that time we were in the mountains of western Maryland, and it turned out we had a serious oil problem with the car so our final night when we thought we would be warm and toasty in our own beds, was spent riding a bumpy 100 mile ride back into Virginia in the cab of a wrecker to the nearest open VW dealer.
A minor setback and a bit of $$$ later, we were on the road again. We changed our original route and came back through the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia, into the mountains of West Virginia, and made it home that night to our anxiously waiting wives, who immediately showed us all the dishes that needed washing and the garbage that needed taking out which had piled up since we had left weeks before. (No, I'm being facetious. It was the next morning I got shown all that.)
Everywhere we went we saw the evident working of the invisible God. In the lives of everybody we met as well as in our own. John and I talked and talked and talked in all those hours of driving, and one of the things we asked ourselves is why do we do this? Our first answer to our own question, as I said earlier, is that we are heartily committed as a calling to "encourage the brethren." We see so many in so many places who thirst for the fellowship that we find in our union with Christ, and hungrily lap up hearing the truths of Christ in us, as us, as more and more He has become their living reality. But we've also realized something else as we questioned ourselves. In going out to visit our friends both old and new, we realized we are "putting flesh on" the words we speak and share. We may write it in letters or emails, and we may even send out books and tapes, etc. All those things are wonderful and vital and absolutely necessary. But we saw that there is nothing like being with people in person and living Christ in the present moment in our normal human living and activities. We didn't have that many formal meetings on that trip, and more time was spent alone in living rooms with one or two people than anything else. And there was Christ in the flesh, in the midst of us and flowing out of each of us.
John & I were the most blessed of all, I think. Everybody was so gracious, and so heartily lovers, we find ourselves privileged and blessed beyond measure to be able to share and give in freedom and without charge what we have freely received. Jesus said, "He that believeth on me, out of his belly shall flow rivers of Living Water," and we have seen it, and testify to that truth. Hallelujah!
PS -- Look to our ChristAsUS website soon for pictures, and we're also hoping to put up a streaming audio of some sessions we did on our third trip to Florida in January. This is written from the middle of our current trip in Oklahoma City.