Thursday, July 24, 2014

No One A Stranger, Everyone WIth A Story

Wednesday afternoon my cowboy preacher hubby got on his recumbent and rode downtown to observe RAGBRAI as it unfolded in our city here in north Iowa.  RAGBRAI takes place every July for a week as bicyclists from every state come ride together across Iowa, taking different routes each year with different host towns welcoming riders along with way.  It is a serious adventure with real risks as they ride up to 100 miles a day. This year already, two men have died from heart attacks.  There were around 10,000 riders this year, along with others who bring campers, trucks, etc. to follow them on the journey.  Our city was expecting 30,000 to come in...doubling our size.  Joel had made plans to ride the "hump" day, going a "mere" 40 miles, but life intervened and he needed to be elsewhere.  So later Wednesday afternoon  he headed out biking around town to visit with those who were setting up tents or eating at the different churches where they served hot meals for a small cost to those who were hungry. 

Bikes downtown
Bikes at the park
No one is a stranger with my cowboy preacher.   He struck up conversations with riders from New York, Colorado, and much to his delight a man from The Philippines who now lives in southern Iowa.  He bought meals for a couple of the guys and chatted with them about their passion for biking, even shipping their bikes and flying themselves to Iowa for RAGBRAI.  He heard about their jobs as graphic and industrial engineers and learned a bit about their daily lives.  Another man had an Air Force insignia on his shirt so Joel stopped to chat and found out he was with the Air Force Cycling Team!  Since Joel spent 8 years in the Air Force, a great conversation followed.  Danny, the man from the Philippines was eager to visit about his country.  He shared with Joel that Clark Air Base, where Joel had been stationed so long ago, is now going to be made into the Manila Airport since Manila has grown to over 30 million and cannot enlarge the airport there.  They talked about the Marshall Law under Marcos, our two years in his native country, and more. 

No one is a stranger and everyone has a story to tell.

Which takes me back two days to when my hubby answered to door to a young man selling "books".  Joel stood outside and chatted for awhile.  I was sitting in the living room when I heard them come in the house.  The young man from Estonia needed to use the bathroom so Joel brought him in to use the one right inside our front door.  Ok.  To be honest here, I was not happy.  He was a stranger for heaven's sake.  Was he really selling books?  Was he clean?  Using our bathroom? 

Remember what I said about no one being a stranger to my cowboy preacher? 

It got me thinking.  Past negative experiences had me set up boundaries around our home years ago, and welcoming the book seller with the Russian sounding accent into our home took me back nearly 40 years ago to when Joel brought home a man from a downtown mission for Easter dinner.  The man ended up harassing me with abusive phone calls that had us concerned for the safety of our family.  This was not the only time our family would be in some kind of danger, but we agreed to set firm boundaries back then.  We would help all the people God sends our way, but our home was off limits.  The family needed to be safe.

Joel is not clueless to the dangers in our world.  He just believes God will make him aware of who he can trust and who he can't.  Experience has educated us.   We both enjoy visiting with those we meet.  It is not difficult for either of us to strike up a conversation.  We like to talk.  Too much, in fact.  No for Joel and for me....except if it comes home or the radar I have tells me someone is not safe.

But back to RAGBRAI and Joel's visit.  He took plenty of photos, a few of which I am sharing here, and he enjoyed greatly the atmosphere of it all.  As we drove through town together later in the evening we were amazed by all the people...everywhere.  Tent after after bike.  Biker after biker.

Tents at a church near our home
Tents along the river in the park
Nice place to camp!

 It was fun to see.  We did not stay around for the Bret Michaels concert, but heard there were thousands and thousands in the streets and around city hall who were entertained until the wee hours.  I think Joel was itching to go back into the fray the next morning, but commitments took him elsewhere.  Still he enjoyed his few hours of fun yesterday.  So many people, each with a story to tell....none of them a stranger to my cowboy preacher. 

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