Updated: May 8, 2019
By Amanda Boils - NYBR 2018 Support Staff
This was not what I expected. I stood in the dark and started to cry as I prayed. “God, why did we think this was a good idea?”
Because, honestly, what mom in her right mind decides that taking four kids under the age of 7 (including a newborn) on an out-of-state bike tour for five days is a good idea?
Word of advice, don’t ever tell your husband to get a hobby unless you mean it. I was six weeks pregnant with baby number four when my husband broached the idea of going on his second tour with Ends of the Earth Cycling. He would ride and the kids and I would go as support staff.
I said yes.
And that’s how, less than a year later, I found myself crying in the pitch black, freezing cold water dripping down my back as I tried to towel dry my hair in an outdoor camping shower in upstate New York. (Have I mentioned that I am not a “roughing it” type of girl?)
I had finally gotten our 7, 5, 2 year old, and almost 8 week old down for the night in the one room the six of us were sharing. The tour hadn’t even officially started and I was already exhausted.
I thought that I was ready for this. I knew it was a missions trip. I had some idea of what that entailed – that it might be physically challenging. And it would most certainly be spiritually challenging. But in that particular moment, I didn’t feel prepared.
I felt an unexpected isolation. As a pastor’s wife and mom of four young kids, Christian community seemed elusive to me in the season of life I was in. And my soul was starving for it. Standing in the sopping wet grass wishing for an indoor shower and my own bed, I felt completely invisible. I barely knew anyone on this tour. I had come on this trip to serve, to live out the Gospel in a tangible way in front of our kids, but all the while I was feeling that at some point God had forgotten me.
But over the next five days, God spoke a clear response over my tear filled prayer that first night.
“I see you.” Not only did I hear him whisper that phrase to my heart day after day, I experienced it.
The first official night of the tour my oldest (and typically most challenging child) wanted to attend the evening worship service with me instead of playing with the other kids. Selfishly I really wanted to say no. I wanted the break. But then my son, who didn’t even want to do the songs at Vacation Bible School earlier in the summer, stood by me and sang every song and followed along with the scripture as Nick preached.
“I see you.”
Amidst the whining and the occasional silence as kids napped. As I drove miles upon miles, stopping every so often to cheer the riders on and to pray for those we were riding for.
“I see you.”
The third night when one of the other women on the tour, nearly a stranger to me, got out of her seat in the middle of evening worship, came back to where I was pacing with our infant, and asked if I was okay. And then she prayed over me because I was crying so hard I couldn’t even answer her question. It felt like it had been so long since someone had actually asked me if I was okay…and meant it.
“I see you.”
The last night as we stood in a church parking lot well after we should have been in bed and a new friend spoke words of affirmation and encouragement over me.
“I see you.”
I was so eager to come on this trip and serve. To pray and someday hear stories about the lives in the Ukraine and Georgia that were changed because of the funds raised and the prayers prayed.
I was completely unprepared for the changed life to be mine.
This tour completely wrecked me in the best way possible because God reminded me who He is. He is “El Roi” – The God who sees. The God who sees me as clearly as He sees the missionaries and the hearts that have yet to hear the Gospel. He is a God who, by His very nature, lives in community and desires that for us. And He’s using us and Ends Cycling to spread not only the Gospel, but community to the ENDS OF THE EARTH.