Lessons learned through Big Sky country: Kelsey Bjorkman’s journal, week 4

by Kelsey Bjorkman

Special to the Star News

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Total mileage to date: 920 miles

The trip has been going incredibly well. We have been cruising along through wind and rain, fortunately mostly tailwinds and not too much rain. It has been surprisingly chilly so far. There have been few days that I have not worn my under-armor and windbreaker while riding. Personally, I would rather have chillier weather than really hot weather. But not all of the southern members of our team agree with me on that point.

Georgia and her dad Tim sit in the doorway of the coffee shop in Harlowton, Montana

Last time I updated we had just crossed into Montana. We are now about halfway across and staying two days in Billings, Montana. We’ll be speaking at both services at The City Church tomorrow and heading to Hysham, Montana.

It seems that so much has happened it is hard to believe it has only been two weeks since we left Seattle, Washington. We have climbed four mountain passes and countless hills; passed through numerous towns of various sizes and personalities; had seven flat tires (well, that’s my count, not the whole team’s); and met so many amazing people.

I know I wrote about it in my last update, but it still stands that one of my favorite parts of this trip is seeing the church in action. I especially love seeing so many different aspects of what church is and how the church fulfills Jesus’ command to be His hands and feet. We have seen churches that do bike clinics where they fix kids’ bikes for free just to minister to them, churches that serve meals, churches that meet in community centers because it benefits both them and the community. It is just phenomenal. I feel that I am seeing aspects of what the church could be, what the church should be. I was struck by something Jeramy Wheeler, a teammate, said: “How many lead pastors do you see making spaghetti, doing the dishes, and then going to the coffee shop to hear their kids sing?”

I also love the individual people we are meeting along the road and the glimpses I am seeing of the way life can be. I am seeing so much diversity. Ty in Thompson Falls, Montana, a 23-year-old who is about to get his master’s in clarinet performance. Ryan and his brother Tyler in Thompson Falls, Montana, 9 and 7 respectively, who want to be a rescue helicopter pilot and a marine biologist. The choir at The Yoked Parish of American Lutheran & First Presbyterian Churches in White Sulfur Springs, Montana, that welcomed myself and Tim Shaw, a teammate, to their choir rehearsal to sing with them.

John and Verlaine in Harrison, Idaho. Married for 47 years and still as in love as ever. It was such a delight to sit outside the church with them and

Jeramy Wheeler found the perfect way to relax at water stops with his collapsible cot

listen to the stories they had to tell about real life, the adventures they had shared, marriage, and love. “I met him when I was 15,” Verlaine said, “and he’s been my best friend ever since.”

And I think of the people we met in Harlowton, Montana. After feeding us a spaghetti dinner and watching our presentation about the Just+Hope Campaign, we all headed over to the local coffee shop where they were having an ‘open mic’ night. The small coffee shop was packed as people took turns singing a wide variety of styles and songs. Everyone clapped and sang along to their favorites and yelled requests when the songs ended. It was an eclectic group, from the men who looked like they had just walked in from the range, to the teens with their makeup and styled hair, to the toddlers climbing under tables and chairs. But it all felt right. It felt like life is supposed to be: relaxed, laid back, not free from cares and trials, but able to put everything else aside to spend an evening with family and friends just enjoying life together. It seems that I am seeing more of life on this trip than I have ever experienced before and it makes me excited to go out and live it. I am learning to live life.

It has been very interesting to live such a nomadic lifestyle for the past two weeks: to be continually on the move, always in a new place, sleeping on a different floor each night, never knowing what to expect before you arrive. Each night we arrive at our destination, unload our bins from the van,

Dandelion in a Montana sunset just outside of Helmville. (Photos by Kelsey Bjorkman)

claim a spot on the floor, unroll our sleeping bags, and spend the night. Each morning we repack our bins, roll up our sleeping bags, put it all in the trailer, and head out for a new destination. There is an aspect to it that is very exciting, a sense of anticipation for the unknown and the surprises that are coming. But it can also be quite exhausting: a sense of unsettledness, a feeling of incompleteness, an inability to put down roots of any kind. But this trip is not about putting down roots. This trip is about planting and scattering seeds. I do not entirely know what seeds I am planting. Some I may receive a harvest from this year, next year, or 10 years down the road. Others I may not be the one to receive and benefit from the fruit that is born. But that is not the point. I am not planting to gain something for myself. I am planting because I can. I am planting because, as I am learning more and more on this trip, it is the little things that change the world. And so, regardless of how miniscule and insignificant they may appear to me, I am planting seeds from coast to coast this summer.


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