Sunday, June 7, 2015
"When I wake up I try to Skype with home but I don't succeed. I know they are away training, so I decide to eat first.
When I get to Leon, Katey and Noah’s house, I see that they have already put my bike in the van. When I tell them that I'm not coming with them to the church, because I want to skype, they're trying to come up with a solution. I will be allowed to skype at the church and I think that's a good idea.
After a delicious breakfast of eggs, muffins and you name it, I pack up my things. A little later, we are in the car and on our way to Virden. We are in two cars and after about half an hour we arrive at the church. It is a small church with an open atmosphere. I'm allowed to use the minister’s office. The people are very friendly. Leon, his wife and his son practice with the band first.
I have a wonderful time skyping with my sons. It's nice to see my own home which makes me realize that I am homesick. After about 45 minutes I round off our conversation because the church service is about to start and I don't want to disrupt anything.
The service is very open and spontaneous without strict protocol. The music is religious but in the form of pop, rock and country music which sounds good. The minister gives everyone an opportunity to speak about their experiences and asks Leon to introduce his guests.
After some more singing together there is a coffee break and Dave, Sann and I are being interrogated by about 30 people who are present. When the minister is ready to continue to service, he for some reason decides to do things differently today. From that moment on, it becomes a very special experience. Dave is called to the front. He talks about our journey and why he is supporting me. He really speaks from his heart and I am amazed. And I am even more amazed when I realize that the congregation is collecting money for our journey.
I am not sure about that. When asked if anyone else wants to come forward to speak, everybody looks at me and I go to the podium. I explain why I am in Canada and that from the bottom of my heart I sincerely want to inspire people who are battling an illness and are trying to regain some quality of life. It was not even a five minute speech but the response is overwhelming. And I was just gettting ready to say that we are absolutely not special!
I feel uncomfortable when the congregation joins around us and prays for us. It is difficult to explain. I am not a religious person myself but I do appreciate the sincerity of these wonderful people. However, I can never accept their money. I just can't.
The service is over. Afterwards there is a discussion about strength, hope and love. These are the actually ingredients of my journey. The minister reminds me of my grandpa Van Beek and it feels as if he is really close. The minister wants to speak to me before I leave. I walk to the podium with him and he says: “You like my guitar don't you? Give me your address and I will send it to you.”
No, I can’t accept that. I look at him and say: “Today was a very special day for me. The fact that you offer to do this is already enough. I see how much energy you spread with your guitar which is so much more than I could ever do. Please keep the guitar and continue to make music!”
I am seriously wondering what is happening here today and why everybody seems so touched. It is because I follow my heart and I'm open? We are left no choice but to accept the envelope with the donations. There is more than $300 in it for each of us. It is way too much, but together these people believe that they need to support us because He brought us to them...
Afterwards pictures are taken and we are invited to huge lunch buffet in the village for which we are not allowed to pay.
When we get on our bikes we head out back to Hwy 1 from Virden. We have a headwind of about 45 to 55km/hr which is pretty severe. After about 10 km I almost collapse and I can't do it anymore. Dave and Sann take over some of my luggage. It's really tough for them as well and at last we arrive back in Elkhorn, where we were yesterday as well. We are pretty sure we are going to spend the night here.
The hotel does not appear to be open and we have no choice but to camp. We are all tired and I am broken. After a short night, missing my wife and children, Skyping and all the emotions and then the very special experience in the church and too much lunch make me feel out of sorts and a little bit down.
What remains is the fact is that we really inspired the congregation. On Facebook, Dave already sees some photographs and comments about us. We actually rode in a circle the last couple of days, which I didn't like, but I also would not have wanted to miss this! What a day!"
Han Schomakers, editor
Translation by Sytske van der Veen