Sunday, August 3, 2008

Home Sweet Home!

From the time we awoke, there was a sense that today would be special. Perhaps it was the absolutely delicious home cooked breakfast prepared by Ruth, Carol, Jack, and Al, or maybe it was because today we knew we would hit the heart of it all at The Fuller Center's home base. Regardless, we all felt an extra spring in our step and joy in our hearts as we hit the road towards our first meeting spot of the day in Plains, Georgia (home of President Carter).

Cusseta Fuller Center is in an extremely rural area, and we like to refer to them as "the little Covenant Partner that could" because of their success despite the difficulties of building in an area with such few resources. On the way out we rode by the first new home they had built from the ground up and saw that the family had already moved in; such an enormous accomplishment. Even better, they already have lots for their next two houses! Seeing the successes of this ministry propelled us onward with an ever growing sense of excitement.

40 something miles later and at about 11:30, we arrived in Plains and devoured Plains' famous peanut butter ice cream. More significantly, we were joined by perhaps a dozen other riders who came out to join us for the triumphant ride into Americus, including Steve Hale who is starting The Fuller Center in Louisville, Kentucky. Steve is an incredibly energetic, warm, charismatic, and humourous leader who had a special journey of his own by cycling down from Lousiville with his own support van as a separate branch of our Adventure. He stopped in every town through which he rode to hand out a packet of information and gained sponsors by promoting his trek as an opportunity to "sponsor your very own 56 year old fat boy!" Everyone was uplifted by having him join with us, and his ride will doubtless have an effect on communities for many years to come. Check out the website for Steve's trip by clicking here. (On a side note, Steve is no longer such a fat boy, so he might have to change his marketing slogan!)

After meeting all of the new riders in Plains, I shared a few words with the group - including making sure everyone knew what Steve had just accomplished - led our group in prayer, and we hit the road for the home office of The Fuller Center. We re-grouped with a police escort at Grannie's Kitchen, added even more riders, and rolled down the hill towards home. We knew we would have a few people welcome us, but nothing had prepared us for what followed.

No sooner had our now quite large cycling assembly ridden into the street than on our right we saw a family holding up a sign that read "Welcome Ryan and bikers" and heard them blowing a trumpet - talk about a royal welcome! As we neared the Fuller Center, people were literally lined up all along the rail along the road cheering us in! A huge banner reading "Welcome Fuller Center Bike Adventure" hung on the tree and all the people shouted and cheered enthusiastic "Oyee's!" to welcome us in, with Millard and Linda Fuller the first to greet us. (And just think: when I left for the beginning of the ride I brought the Fuller Center office key with me because I thought perhaps no one would be there when we arrived and I would need to let ourselves in!)

Jacob Battle, a Fuller Center board member and owner of Georgia Boy's fruit stand presented me with the biggest peach I've ever seen and the best I've ever eaten, along with peaches for the other riders. Millard, as joyful and inspiring as ever, spoke to thank and praise all of the riders and staff who had helped with making this possible and invited the riders inside to feast on pizza from Pat's Place.

Our celebrity status continued throughout the evening as we did a meet and greet from 5:00-7:00 at the local fair trade coffee shop, Cafe Campesino. More community members came out, including the reporter from the Americus-Times Recorder, and a good time was had by all.

Although I've tried to capture the excitement and joy of the day's events in these few words, I am sure I have failed. One can only truly appreciate or understand the feeling by being there and being a part of it. But hey, Millard mentioned today that we would like to make this an annual ride, so if you missed it today, you might still get your chance next year!

God's grace,


Steve Hale, who asked for sponsors under the slogan, "sponsor your very own 56 year old fat boy" for his ride from Louisville, KY to Americus. Well, Steve, you're still 56 years old but you can no longer refer to yourself as "fat boy"!

1 comment:

auntie "m" said...

Loved hearing all about your triumphant ride in to Americus! What a well-deserved reception you enjoyed!! The peaches, peanut butter and pizza all sound like they were yummy. :-D Aside from the tasty treats, seeing and hearing from the Fullers, Steve Hale and Jacob Battle must have been both rewarding and inspirational. So glad that the day was so wonderful and thanks for sharing in word and pics!

Auntie "M"