June 17, 2011
So this morning after some Cheerios I said goodbye to Amanda and headed south. After 10 miles I stopped for gas (at 52 miles a gallon I didn’t even need a full tank for the day). A gentleman riding a KTM 650 adventure bike pulled up next to me. Of course we were going to talk.
I asked about his bike, then told him a little about what I was doing. It turns out he was a missionary in Argentina all throughout the 90’s!!! And he drove a KLR 650 while he was there! We definitely had a lot to talk about, so he invited me over to his house which was only a mile away.
As we pulled in his driveway he rode up a big wooden ramp into an elevated motorcycle shop!!! He works on bikes in his spare time. I knew I would be there awhile. We got to talking and I just cannot believe the connection. Mike lived in Mendoza for 9 years and opened an orphanage there. The stories he told were of horrible things that happened to these kids, but how so many of them changed in powerful, positive ways while they were there. They are up to about 30 kids now. The best part is that my first stop from Peru is Santiago, Chile to visit Melissa, and from there I was going to cut across Argentina to Brazil, and Mendoza is the first city I was going to stay at!! So I am going to visit the orphanage and maybe even help out a little at the learning center. This is exactly how I wanted the ride home to go!
Mike then mentioned his son who they adopted while in Argentina. He is entering high school next year so I asked if I could meet him. Bobby is a great guy and totally hooked me up by asking if we could go out for a buffet pizza lunch. Heck yes. He is active in his youth group and will soon be vocals and guitar for a metal band. I’m sure if any of you Grand Haven kids got a chance to meet him you’d be impressed. He also mentioned a few of his friends from his childhood that I might be able to look up in Mendoza. That would be so awesome if I could meet them.
After lunch (which I was treated to) Mike and I talked a lot about his work, counseling prisoners at local detention centers. Wow, more intense stories. But he is making a difference. It must have taken some real guts to walk into there the first time, so I asked him how nervous he was. He said of course he was nervous, but now he feels comfortable and it is a great thing. I love it when my rule of life #2 comes true.
We then looked over the bike. He noticed the rear tire and how it was completely bald. I have two new tires waiting for me in Houston so I was trying to stretch these ones to get there. But it just wasn’t safe. So what does Mike do? Oh yeah, he had an old KLR tire chilling by a wood pile and gave it to me to get to Houston!!! Tires are not cheap, wow. Thanks for everything Mike.
People told me to expect it, but it really hit home today. Since Tuesday morning I have paid for two meals. I have paid for lodging once (would have been zero with 1 more day of planning). I have been given a tire. The kindness of strangers and friends alike is overwhelming. Thank you. And I guess any money I save is going to the dorm anyway, so it is kind of like a donation to the girls in Peru.
The ride down was fine, there was a strong wind but climbing a bunch of switchbacks through a mountain was pretty cool. Tonight I got a cheap room at a Days Inn in Kilgore, TX. I think it was something like 262 miles today. I’m beat. But I got a shower, some internet, and tomorrow I roll into Houston. It’s time for a reunion that I’ve been waiting for. Ladies and gentleman, be jealous because tomorrow I get to see Casey Jensen.