The Trail Will Provide

Hampton TN, 04/19/2019

Thursday April 11. After taking a 2 day break in Erwin I got back on the trail today. A few of the hikers staying at the Super 8 had Norovirus. I was really concerned I might get it as it is incredibly contagious. I had a great day hiking 18.5 miles with an elevation gain of 3000 ft. The first 4 miles followed a creek coming off the mountain. I love walking beside cascading water. Met a group of hikers, discussed how much they had to drink the night before. There’s another group of guys I have met up with fairly often who seem to get caught up in the bars as well. Nice guys but not sure they're going to make it to Maine this way. I wrote a song for them.
No you can't get to Maine, chugging beer. No you can't get to Maine, chugging beer. If you keep on chugging beer, you might as well shed a tear. No you can't get to Maine, chugging beer.
You can't get to Maine, smoking grass. No you can't get to Maine, smoking grass. If you keep on smoking grass, you're going to land flat on your _ _ _. No you can't get to Maine, smoking grass.
You have to do something with your mind when you walk 8 hours a day! Lol
Friday / Saturday April 12 – 13th. I hiked 11 miles to Hugh’s gap where I met up with Waffle and Hawkeye and shuttled to Johnson city. I am spending the weekend with Waffle’s family. It was good to see them again. They seem to be doing well on their hike and have made new friends.
Sunday April 14. Waffle and Beth drove me back to Hugh's Gap. Enjoyed connecting with them and hope I will see them again! Climbed up Roan mountain which tops out around 6500 ft. On top, instead of the promised great views I was greeted by winds gusting around 60 miles per hour and rain slamming in sideways that stung my face. At times it was difficult to keep upright because of the power of the wind. The trail turned into a creek with cascading waterfalls. After about a mile of this I got back into the trees. I stayed almost dry, but the wind did drive the rain through any zippers in my gear. My gortex boots soaked through some but considering the mud and water I splashed through I think they performed acceptably. The only casualty was my camera. I forgot it was in my pack waist pocket. Anything not in a sealed bags got soaked. I hiked 12 miles total and set up camp near Overmountain shelter. A storm came on after I got settled in, thunder, lightning, and heavy winds with rain. So far my tent has stood the test. It is so light weight and the material so thin it concerns me at times but so far its holding up. I mailed home my winter gear and just on cue the forecast is for -2 c and snow tonight.
Monday April 15. I got pretty cold last night and had a miserable

sleep. My stove sitting next to the vestibule was covered in ice. I had to warm it up with my lighter before I could make my coffee. The wind was still howling in morning and by the time I had my tent packed away my hands were frozen. I froze my cheeks as well, as the call of nature simply demanded to be answered. My gloves were soaked and my boots frozen stiff. I used a pair of socks for mitts. I had to get over Hump Mountain and again was greeted by 60mph winds that almost bowled me over. I had to walk leaning over to one side to counteract the wind. All I could see was white. Clouds were swirling over the peak, all the shrubs, grass, and brush was covered with thick frost. Just as I made it over the top it began to clear a little and the sun reflecting off the frost covered trees made them shimmer beautifully. The further down into the valley I walked the warmer it got. I set up camp early after only 9 miles beside a beautiful creek, protected from the wind. I felt exhausted after a two day battle with the weather. It felt good laying in my tent out of the wind, the sun shining on me, and a strong cup of coffee made it perfect. Later I walked to The Station, a hostel about a mile off trail to resupply. I ordered supper and as I was waiting a fellow hiker asked me if I was okay. I guess I looked exhausted after my battle with Roan mountain and the weather.
Tuesday April 16. Woke up feeling exhausted, sad and broken. Managed to get on the trail by 10:00. It should have been the best day ever. It was warm, sunny and the scenery

stunning. Two beautiful waterfalls, a gorgeous river with great rapids just waiting for my canoe. Streams coming in from all directions. The terrain was the easiest I’ve had yet on the trail, and yet I didn’t feel an ounce of joy. I plodded along, exhausted from the first step till the last. Hard to understand as this day had everything that should have lifted my heart and caused me to sing. I guess that in a nutshell is a picture of depression. I prodded myself by committing to just one more mile, until I made 13 in total passing the 400 mile mark of the trail. I couldn’t have found a more gorgeous place to set up camp, right on the fork of two streams coming together. I love falling asleep to the sound of rushing water.
Wednsday April 17. My day started out much like yesterday but as it progressed I found my energy increasing. My heart really lifted when I reached Laurel river and falls. The scenery was enchanting, maybe the best yet as the river carved a deep canyon and dropped over a 40 foot falls. I camped right next to the river with steep rock walls rising up on the opposite bank. I managed to make 14 miles. I have been waking up with a nauseous stomach the past two mornings. I think I’m anxious as I have been increasingly thinking of the end of my hike and returning home. I miss my family desperately but I don't have a lot of pleasant memories of the last 5 years. I brood about what I will do on return and how I will do. If I ask myself the question, what would I do if I could do anything, I come up blank. The only thing that holds any draw is returning to some sort of pastoral ministry. All

my training and experience lies here. My schooling is useless for anything else. I can't imagine myself surviving doing something like stocking shelves or pumping gas. But can I survive going back into ministry? It’s the only thing I ever really wanted to do. At this point I can see myself finishing up my MA in theology at CMU and going from there. When I think of Sharon and her gifts they lie in children's ministry. Not only is she creative but kids love her. When she walks into school kids come running to get a hug and say hi. So many churches have such dismal children's ministries and she could change that for one church. Time will tell I guess.
Thursday April 18. I hiked 8 miles into Boots Off hostel. Walked and chatted with Big Baby for a mile or so. The weather has turned warm and all kinds of trees are flowering beautifully and often there is the scent of flowers in the air. I rented a tiny cabin at the hostel not much bigger than the bed. I am again exhausted and ready for a day off hiking. I sense my time on the AT is coming to an end. I feel like I have accomplished what I needed to. I will meet Sharon in Damascus in 5 days. I hear spring has sprung at home so I'm looking forward to get home and work on my yard.

There is a saying on the Appalachian trail that “the trail will provide.” One day I came to a road crossing exhausted and thirsty. I ran out of water miles back. I knew there was a spring 400 yards up the highway and then another 400 yards or so downhill off the road. I sat down on a picnic table on the side of the road to catch my breath to weary to think about getting water. Just then a car pulled up and a guy jumps out and gives me a bottle of water. A few minutes later a lady pulls up and sets a bag of bananas in front of me, my favourite fruit! This is one example of how “the trail provides.” This kind of thing happens to most hikers because the trail is surrounded by good people who see the value in the journey and just want to encourage us. I have received full course meals on two occasions cooked right on the trail, drinks, hot dogs, fruit, and rides in and out of town. Hikers call this trail magic and it is fairly common on the AT.
When I was 21 and attending Capernwray Bible Centre just off

Vancouver island we were studying the book of Luke and I sensed God speaking to me strongly about this passage; “Look at the lilies of the fields and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for flowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith? And don’t be concerned about what to eat and what to drink. Don’t worry about such things. [Luke 12:27 29]” I put a date beside this passage in my Bible and determined that I would make my decisions in life based on what it said. The following is a testimony of how this decision has born out in my life. After Capernwray I went to work in a home for Young Offenders in the Okanagan valley. I had stopped in there on my way home from school on the recommendation of a man I had met on a BC Ferry. I drove on the yard and was about to leave as I was to shy to go in and ask questions ,but God had other ideas. I stopped to retrieve a map from the trunk of my car only to lock my keys in it. Now I had to go get help and in the meantime was given an application form. Six months later I was working there. In my second year, I met Sharon who came on as one of my staff. I was coordinating their Residential Attendance program at the time. A year later we were married. The first time Sharon and I spoke to each other we informed the other that we were not interested in any

relationships. We both had just come out of a past relationship. However all I can say is that I soon knew clearly I was to marry this girl, even before I actually knew her. It was a big risk in my mind, as she came from the same kind of home all the kids I was working with came from. However, because of my working with theses kids, I was prepared for how she tried to push me away and prove that I would not be faithful in my love for her, just as ever other person in her life, that should have loved her. had not been. Living by faith became a reality for us as a couple after Sharon and I went to Capernwray Bible Center together for a year of Leadership training. We came to school with our tuition and room and board paid but no money for daily expenses. We were wondering if we should use our credit card or not. In our mail we received a credit card bill that we thought had been fully paid. At the same time we received a rebate check for the exact amount that was not paid. We took that as a sign to use our credit card and the money would come to pay the bill at the end of the month. We did this throughout our time there and there was always money at the end of the month to pay the bill. This was our first foray into living by faith. After Capernwray, we went to India for a six month mission experience where I preached in churches and taught at Capernwray’s small Bible College. Again we had to trust in God’s provision. We came home penniless but our bills were paid. After a few years living and working in Manitoba we decided to go back to One Way Adventure Foundation in BC to work with young offenders. I had an irresistible drive to go back. I wanted to live in the mountains and the whole outdoor focus of the home drew me as well. I set a fleece that if we could get a truck and 5,000 dollars in the bank we would go. A year later we had both the truck and the cash in the bank so we packed up our two boys and off we went. I also purchased a one ton moving truck, so we could keep our stuff packed up for a few weeks until we had worked out our accommodations. When we were settled in to our new townhouse we purchased, I put up my moving truck and car on consignment. Four months later we were informed that the Foundation was not going to be able to renew it’s contracts and the place was about to downsize and ultimately close. By this time, I had become disillusioned with living in BC and we decided we would move back to Manitoba. By the grace of God, there had not been one offer on our moving truck or our car. We picked up the truck to move back home, we were happy to have our car as well, and on top of that the consignment dealer bought my pickup truck from me on the spot, for the same price I purchased it a year ago. We moved home and I asked John Penner to sell my moving truck for me. He said he could try but cautioned there was not much demand for that kind of truck. Two weeks later it was sold. I struggled with why God led us to BC only to move back. I realized much later, that I had to get that bug out of my system so He could get me to the place He wanted here in Manitoba. A few years, I committed to going to Steinbach Bible College. By this time we had three children and we still owned that Town House in BC, as we could not sell it for lack of demand. We could not afford for me to go to school from a human perspective but we chose to follow God’s leading. I did so in faith that when I graduated I would have no debt and that’s exactly how it happened. Every summer it seemed our renters would move out of our Townhouse and we would be paying rent and mortgage payments at the same time. We had some stressful

times wondering how we were going to make it, but God was faithful. Before I graduated I was called by my home church as a youth pastor. We finally managed to sell our Townhouse in BC and we started looking for a property to purchase in the Steinbach area. We were looking at a lot in Blumenort but I was not really happy about it as I had never lived on a small town lot. On the day we backed out of that deal,due to too many caveats on the property, we went to Steve Brandt’s to pick up our son. They said they had just bought a house and asked if we wanted to buy theirs. Now we had often, while driving up there driveway, fantasized about owning that property. That dream became a reality and it was perfect for raising our kids and my love for yard work. During my pastoral years we felt that we needed a little more income and so we made the decision to foster parent. We had no idea how crucial that decision was to be in the future. After I resigned from the church I went to work for AIM. In the two years I worked for them I never managed to raise a full salary but we were fine because of foster parenting income. When I burned and crashed my income came to a halt. I was not able to receive any type of compensation. Now the income from foster parenting was all we had and we made ends meet the best we could. It was obvious that God provided for my burnout long before it even happened. It hasn’t

been easy financially and at times I felt bitter at losing 5 years of salary that could have made a huge dent in our mortgage. It seemed that God was providing but at the same time our mortgage kept growing instead of getting smaller. At one point when we got to a place we where overdrawn in our bank account with no hope of any more income I crashed my van and we received a 6000 dollar payout. We were set for a while again. Then a few years later we were in the same position and my son totaled our car hitting a deer. Again we received a 4750 dollar payout. The crazy thing about this was I had that car appraised at a dealership and they said it was only worth 500 dollars. Now we were down to one vehicle. I believed that God was providing but at the same time it felt that we were slowly sinking into financial oblivion. I often felt jaded by God. I had I felt given up everything to serve Him and what had it got me. Not very spiritual thoughts, but I did feel that way. When we decided that I should go on this hike we new we could not afford it. Light weight camping gear is expensive. The whole thing was beyond our means and yet we both agreed it was the right thing to do for me. I purchased the gear, purchased an airline ticket and off I went. I would have quit in the first two weeks if God had not sent Waffle and Hawkeye into my life. Their friendship just gave me the security to keep going and I didn’t feel so alone. As the time for my going home came closer I began to think about what I would do and how I could get a job to get us out of this financial hole. Would I be capable of holding a job?

On April 5th Sharon called me told me she had something to tell me. I immediately steeled myself for bad news as that’s just how it seemed things had gone lately. Here is what she had to say through her tears: Travis I have been thinking of selling our house. I was thinking maybe we could sell and buy something else and get rid of our mortgage. The financial pressure is too much and I just can't do it anymore. The last six years for me have been so very hard and lots of wondering where God is in all this? I have talked with someone about it. He was willing to arrange and pay for a appraisal done on the house, just to help me out. Then I could see if it was possible to sell and buy and have no mortgage. He then prayed for me, that God would show in a special way that He cared. I left there feeling the compassion and kindness of Christ flowing out of him. A few days later the appraisal happened and I got the appraisal results, and three days later Brock had taken his own life and so house plans were on hold because it seemed so insignificant right now. About a couple of weeks later, on Tuesday April 2nd, I met with this person for a second time, I looked at the appraisal results and it was not possible to to sell and buy something else. The person just listened to me talk and you know I can talk. At the end of the meeting he prayed again, similar to the first time. That same day our care group phoned and wanted to bring me meals for a while. That was an answer to that prayer, I felt loved and cared for and was in desperate need of it. On Wednesday April 3, my sister stopped by and we talked about God's love for a couple of hours. I asked her how she could feel like God loved her especially after Brock took his own life. She said she just believes God does because He sent his only son to die for us. She said she doesn't have a problem believing God loves her. I told her that I am a person who lives by my heart more than my head.

I told her I just wished God would show me love, in my own love language and that I would know beyond a shadow of a doubt that He loved me. I wasn't asking Him to change my circumstance, just wanted Him to let me now He cares about what is going on in my personal life and that I matter. Just in some little way that I would know it was from God. In my head no problem, I went on the truth of the Bible. But this last year I needed to feel it. I could keep going if God would just show me, in a little way, that I was loved and important to Him, that He saw what was happening in my life and how I was having a hard time being strong for you Travis and our kids. On Thursday April 4th, our care group leader sent me a message reminding me how at Capernwray God provided for me. Then she sent the text ," God WILL provide again."
That night in my shop, as I was working, I stopped and said out loud to God. If my sister can believe and feel you love her, then I am choosing again to believe you love me, not just head knowledge but with my heart. And God this money stuff I am leaving with you, you can have it. On Friday April 5th, I met with this person again and I was HUMBLED and in AWE of God and the people who are lead and used by God. This person said they only had one thing to tell me and this is what he said, " God told me to pay out your mortgage and it is because He loves you." I know that when this person gets to heaven, God will say, "Well done thy good and faithful servant." I ask you all who read this to say a prayer for this man and his wife, who have touched and changed mine and Travis' life.
(back to Trav)
I have to say I had to get a hold of myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. My biggest joy in this all is that I have prayed for years that Sharon would not only know intellectually but experience that God loved her. Her broken past still haunted her and she struggled with the reality of God’s love. Here were words spoken in her love language, I love you Sharon! Her sister, when she found out, said to Sharon, "Is that loud enough, did you hear God tell you He loves you?" What it has done for me is again affirmed in my mind that God has not abandoned me and that He still has a plan for my life.
As a person dealing with depression, we need to be able to have faith in God’s provision. Often the mentally ill will lose their jobs and be unable to work or even to help themselves. Many of the people living on the streets are people who suffer from mental illness. Many of the people struggling with drug addiction are people suffering from mental illness. God allowed this struggle into my life but he never abandoned me to it. I am reminded of Paul who was given a thorn in the flesh to keep him from becoming proud {1 Cor 12}. The thorn came from Satan but God allowed it so he would not lose his focus and get consumed with his own greatness. Paul continues by saying he is happy about his weakness because it forces him to trust in God. At times during my struggle I felt bitter and betrayed by God. I was so incredibly wrong. I do not know yet were this is all going, but I believe that God will continue to bring good of my suffering.


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