When we follow God’s call, we sometimes feel as though we are put on a long arduous difficult path that seems never ending. The path is full of starts and stops, bumpy roads and hard choices that always require a graceful heart and all the self discipline you can muster. But, as I have found from my walk with God, he always gives us blessings along the way that somehow bear His fingerprints.
A family, Jeffrey and Bethany Spang, from our church just relocated to Alaska to serve as missionaries with Arctic Barnabas. Jeffrey has spent the past few years training for this opportunity with Compass Aviation Ministries in Shelby, NC. Compass is a training ground for missionaries to learn complete care and maintenance of small carrier planes along with being a flight school. The sparks of an epic adventure were lit when Jeffrey spoke to Nathan Fulton, a fellow church member. Nathan is an innovative guy who has no problem thinking outside of the box. I guess Nathan and Jeffrey crunched some numbers and decided the cheapest and most efficient way to get his family and their belongings from Caroleen, NC to Kenai, Alaska would be to fly Jeffrey’s wife, Bethany, and four small children to Anchorage, along with Jane and her two teen aged daughters (Nathan’s wife and daughters) to help with the little ones, and buy a bus for Jeffrey to drive their belongings from North Carolina to Anchorage to meet up with the rest of his family before they headed to Kenai. They bought a bus. I’m not talking just any bus – a 24 year old PRISON bus. Bars were still on the windows. The plan was to have 6 drivers alternate every three hours. That way they could drive continuously, with few stops as possible, and arrive at their destination as quickly as possible. Nathan enlisted his two grown sons, Nate and Matthew. Jeffrey enlisted a coworker from Compass, David Mora. That left one spot that my husband, Chad, filled. Knowing how much our son, Luke, would love this trip, Chad brought him along. Once at Anchorage, the men (and Nathan’s wife and daughters) would fly back to North Carolina. Then Jeffrey and Bethany would Drive the short distance (comparatively) to Kenai.
The bus went through a few modifications. They took out all of the seats except the first three rows. A moose guard was made and attached to the front of the bus. A name plaque was made and placed on the side of the bus.
They had purchased groceries to eat on the way. They even bought hot pockets so they could cook them on the bus engine. Nathan thought of everything. He had even joked about buying everyone orange jump suits and handcuffs, just so they could wave at fellow travelers as they were riding down the road. True story. Everything was ready. This was going to be the all time MAN trip.
They started in Caroleen, North Carolina, which is where I got a good look at the bus. When I saw the bus for myself, all I could think was, “I can’t believe I’m putting my kid on this to travel across the continent – and without me.” Totally a testament of how much I trust my husband. From behind, the clonker sported a South Carolina 45 day temporary tag and a Soot Life decal. I really hoped they didn’t have too much trouble at the border when they entered Canada. The bus just screamed, “Not Legit!” It was, but it looked otherwise.
I was also hoping they didn’t break down too much.
The route was mapped out and they began their drive. They spent their time singing hymns, reading and surfing the net (unless they lost service).
If I know my husband, they also spent a lot of time in discussion. They even spent some of their time listening to music, like good Ole’ Willie’s song, “On The Road Again.” I can only imagine some of the conversations these guys had on their drive. Can you imagine the fun and excitement they experienced as they saw things they’ve never seen before?
They saw the arch in St. Louis, went through Kansas City, and enjoyed the scenery in Wyoming and Montana.
These nature loving boys were blown away with British Columbia and the Yukon. They saw blue rivers that flowed from glaciers, the snow capped Rockies, and lots of wildlife.
They even stopped the bus to take close up pictures of a moose.
They took a dip in a hot spring while snow was falling. They goofed a little in the Yukon.
They saw the northern lights. The jewel in the crown, according to my husband and son, was experiencing the breathtaking view in Alaska.
This adventure happened by friends coming together to help a family follow God’s call. God likes to bless us, especially when we heed his call to actively love others. This trip was a blessing on its own.
So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those of the household of faith.
For more information on the Spang’s ministry visit http://arcticbarnabas.org/meet-our-team/jeffery-and-bethany-spang/
On a more personal note….. My son loves to see new things and dreams of traveling. For the last few years he’s had a United States map hanging on his wall with the states he wants to visit marked. Back in the spring, I found some really cheap airline tickets in the fall to New York that I wanted to purchase for Luke’s birthday. I thought a weekend in the city would be a great birthday gift. My protective husband totally nixed the idea. Honestly it was one of those moments I felt like Lucy Ricardo who just came up with some great scheme and Ricky came home and blasted the idea. Luke was really upset about it, but God had something better in mind for him. This trip to Alaska occurred about the same time the New York trip would have. When Chad Paid for the airline tickets home from Alaska, he told Luke Happy Birthday. God knows the desires of our heart and sometimes he blesses us in ways we least expect it and couldn’t imagine. In my personal experience, he usually does it when I don’t even ask. Isn’t it great to serve a God who reminds us of His love by showing that he pays attention to our deepest longings. I’ve experienced it in my own life, but to see him bless my kid really warms my heart and reminds me that God loves us more than we can possibly imagine.
Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.