Recently, Ernie and I took a little trip through northern Minnesota. It was a short 2 day trip but enough for us to get away from the woodshop and our obligations to our dog, as well as to others. It was a much needed break.
We stopped at a few waterfalls and river mouths pouring into Lake Superior, took a few photos of the waves crashing against the shoreline, saw the loaded ships waiting patiently in the Duluth harbor, visited a few ore mines. We aren’t the typical tourist type people … we prefer to travel slow, winding back roads instead of the nicely paved thoroughfares that get you there fast. It was pre-peak color season but the scenery was still breathtaking.
Of everything we saw in those two days, two things still stick so vividly today and I wanted to share them. We chose to travel through Superior National Forest by Grand Marais, specifically on Sawbill Trail … a heavily tree canopied gravel road that climbs up and down as it snakes through the Sawtooth Mountains (that’s it in the photo). As we drove along in the comfort of our warm van on that nicely maintained road, we talked about what it must have been like for the Natives or pioneers as they picked their way carefully and probably painfully, either by foot or on horseback, over the rough terrain. The trees were close together and the rocks deposited by the glaciers jutted out everywhere. It was hilly; brush was close together; their treks must have been exhausting with, sometimes, little headway made. The trees were turning beautiful shades of orange, yellow and red and we wondered if they even noticed the beauty surrounding them at this time of year. Or, were they so busy gathering food and wood to get them through the impending winter, they couldn’t see God’s handiwork? What their life must have been. Again, from the comfort of the van, I thought it would be a great opportunity to experience that lifestyle … for an hour or two. The thought made me appreciate modern technology.
Our favorite part on the Sawbill Trail was Heartbreak Ridge. Not named for spooning couples who decided to call it quits and leap off the ledge at that spot (which is what everyone obviously thinks), Heartbreak Ridge is the section of the road where the grade is very long and relatively steep, with 90 degree turns and twists. In the winter, loggers were no longer able to navigate this grade so all logging stopped until the spring thaw and THAT was the heartbreak. Obviously, that time was before this area became a National Forest … GOOD FOR US!
The second precious memory of the trip was our stayover in Ely and we decided to have Vietnamese food for supper. The people at the motel told us the restaurant was small; fortunately, they didn’t tell us it was mostly take out or we would have missed an awesome chance meeting. The restaurant was small, with only 3 tiny tables, but the menu made up for it. It was enormous … with over 100 choices so, while we looked it over, we asked this man who was sitting by himself at a table if we could use a couple of his chairs. He promptly invited us to share his table and our supper with him … what a blessing that turned out to be!! As we ate and chatted, his eyes grew sad when he told us he was a widower and how much he missed his wife. They had relocated from Milwaukee and had children in the area. He talked about his military experience. We told him a little about us … where we lived, what we did, our ministry … you know, all the normal stuff. All the time, he kept his eye on the red pickup parked outside the door with 2 enormous (and I mean ENORMOUS) St. Bernards hanging out the window (well, as much of their bodies as the window had capacity for anyway). This humorous sight did not allow one single person to pass by without these two getting a head pet, drooly chin rub or snag a photo opportunity … and we watched as this happened over and over and over! He smiled as he said those two dogs were his and they ‘modeled’ for more photographic opportunities than anything else in the area, right from the passenger side of the truck! Gentle love giants at 180# each, these ‘lap puppies’, as he referred to them, were his constant companions and we could see they filled his heart with joy. All too soon, our meal was over and our ways would part. Before we said our good-byes, Ernie gave him one of our crosses and our new friend said something we have heard many times before: ‘This is what it’s all about anyway, isn’t it?’ Yup!!
It was a GREAT TRIP!!!
Several folks have contacted us already for crosses they want to pack in the shoeboxes that will be sent to less fortunate kids across the world at Christmas time (Operation Christmas Child) and we are so happy to fill their requests! If you, your church or your organization are thinking you would like to participate in the Operation Christmas Child project, click HERE for more information.
Or, if you have another worthy cause you are supporting and would like to receive crosses to present to the participants, please let us know as soon as you can so we can make sure you get the crosses in time.
And, from Paul in Beaver Falls, PA:
‘Most people thru out Beaver Falls, Ellwood City and others of the Beaver Valley in Pennsylvania have seen me sitting on the tailgate of my old truck handing out yard crosses (measuring about 12” x 18”). The Yard Cross ministry is an outreach program and is affiliated with Riverview United Methodist Church in Patterson Township, Beaver Falls.
In late November, 2009, my wife and I embarked on a, what we thought, was going to be a one time thing. We decided to make up about 50 yard crosses to hand out to our church family as a way of showing our faith to the public by displaying the crosses in front of our homes.
As of August of this year, we have handed out 18,171 yard crosses. We never expected that we would ever hand out that many crosses! Our mission statement is “To supply as many yard crosses as needed, to be placed in front of an individual’s home or business, as a way of showing our love of Jesus Christ and our Christian values.”
We are happy to say that Cross The World is involved with Paul and his ministry and that our crosses are accompanying him as he travels around, sharing his love and handworks for the Lord. He is a great disciple of Christ! Thank you, Paul, for letting CTW be a part of your awesome ministry!!
Charles Stanley said: ‘Our lives are about fulfilling the heavenly Father’s purpose. Many people miss out on its goodness because they choose to follow personal preferences instead, believing their own choices are better. Obedience is sometimes hard, but the struggle and sacrifice are worth it. The Lord’s ways and principles lead believers to joy and peace.’
Lord, you will do everything you have planned for me. Lord, your faithful love continues forever.
You have done so much for us. Don’t stop now.
Psalm 138: 8
We appreciate how our CTW family shows their love for others!!! Thank you to the following who requested crosses to share last month. We are ever so grateful.
Faith Community United Methodist Church – Rochester, PA
Faith Assembly – Imperial, CA
CUPS – Lafayette, LA
St. Francis Hospital Pastoral Care – Tulsa, OK
Dodie – MN
Helen – ND
Marian – MN
Don – MN
Immanuel Watson Parish – Boyd, MN
Jan for St. Matthews United Church of Christ – Forest City, MN 125th anniversary
Pam – PA
Pam – WA
Carla – MN
Frank – MI for Operation Christmas Child