Living near the Appalachain Trail as we do, it is not unusual for me to pick up hikers and drive them to the local store for supplies. Usually, I am in my truck, so they just pile in the back, gear and all, and ride the three miles to Jerry's Store in Volney. And, usually, I am pretty glad for that.... weeks on the trail without a bath?? Well, you get the idea. I don't really worry about safety. I trust that I will always be protected and I listen to Him when He says, "Stop for this one."
So, it was surprising on Thursday to see a lone, small hiker several miles after Jerry's Store. It was bitter cold --- about 20-degrees -- raining and the wind was blowing. The hiker was staggering a little and it was getting near dark.
I pulled up beside the figure, rolled down the truck window and asked, "Where you headed?"
A small, well-lined face turned to me, smiled, and replied, "Danbury."
"Hop in; it is too cold for you to be out walking today."
She got in after tossing her gear on the truck's back seat.
"Thanks! I was getting a little tired and really wanted to get just a bit further."
We introduced ourselves, shaking hands as we did. Hers were worn, wrinkled, well-used and a block of ice.
"How long you been walking?" I asked.
"Oh, about 21 months. I started in Wocester, MA, and have been all over the country since," she responded, unzipping her coat, obviously enjoying the truck's warmth.
She then began to tell me about her journey, talking as fast as one does when they have been alone for a while. Her words tumbled out, faster and faster, as we drove. She told how God has instructed her to travel the country in a certain manner, stopping to talk to anyone who would listen about the End Times and about her Savior.
"He told me to take no money, that I would be cared for," she said. "And I have. If a town doesn't want to hear, then I walk to the city limits, spit on the ground, and leave. Usually, though, people will listen."
We came to my turn off, which is in the middle of nowhere, about 15 miles from the next town. I kept driving and she kept talking about God, her faith, and her journey. She had been to the Deep South, Mid-West, and now was headed to the Atlantic Ocean. Her route was never planned more than knowing a certain town she was to arrive in along the way.
"I just trust Him to tell me the next place," she confided.
When we arrived in Independence, I asked her if I could buy her dinner.
"Yes! I am getting rather hungry," she eagerly answered.
We turned into my favorite restaurant and went in. I explained to her that I couldn't stay because I had to get home to feed my goats and I was already an hour late. She ordered supper and I told her to order her a some tenderloin biscuits for breakfast as they would keep overnight. Before leaving, we paused for a quick prayer. I blessed her and asked for her continued safety.
As I drove home, I thought about how we are each called to do God's work in different ways. She is traveling the country and I teach. Yet, we both minister in our own way -- she through testimony and me through encouragement and, I hope, an example of living His truth. Either way, we are both doing His work where we are.
BTW, I know the dangers of picking up hitch hikers. I seldom let anyone in the vehicle -- they have to ride in the truck bed. And, I don't recommend picking up strangers!