23 September 2010
Not being a morning person definitely showed this morning. Although very aware of the roads and the cars around me, somehow I got a wee bit zoned out and decided to pull over for a break. Somewhere in between Nashville & Asheville, I pulled off at a Tourist Information Center at the foothills of the Smoky Mountains wherein I was greeted warmly by the workers. The man working there, around 50 years old and definitely from Tennessee, noticed immediately that I was tired (almost as immediately as he found out I was from Texas). He took me over to get coffee and started to pump some out, but he was out. I hadn’t realized how tired I was, but he was definitely looking out for me.
This man had never made coffee before, but he took time out of a busy day at the center to try and make make another batch, making sure I didn’t leave before getting some caffeine in my system. When he was finished, he filled a ceramic mug with the extremely dark coffee so I would stay a while and rest. So a little rest stop ended up being a 30 minute energy charge. He talked with me about the mountains and some stories from around the area. We talked about how he had been a trucker before getting this job and we talked about the difference between tourist attractions and the beauty of the mountains.
I’ve been listening to Francis Chan’s “Crazy Love” throughout the past four days of driving, and I’m being re-acquainted with the simple idea of compassion and caring for God and others before yourself. The idea of showing this selfless, crazy love is beautiful and unique. The man at the tourist station showed me Jesus today. I would have probably been okay without the coffee, but he made certain that he didn’t let me leave until he had done all he could for me. May we be that kind of person. May I be that kind of person.
As I left with another cup of coffee (a to-go container this time), he said “God Bless”. And he meant it, too.
Driving the rest of the way was easy, and I had a lot to think about. I was in awe of God and how He finds the simplest ways to provide for me, to keep me safe, and to lift my spirits. In the midst of this, I was able to drive through the mountains of Tennessee and North Carolina and praise Him in the silence of my little champagne-colored Hyundai. I mean, really, how cool is it that there’s this mountain called “Black Mountain” where it’s almost always raining, creating a sort of rainforest with tropical plants & animals in the middle of the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee? And how awesome is it that there’s a permanent highway sign with reads “Caution: Fog next 4 miles” along I-40?
But at the end of the day, I had more still for which to praise the Creator of Everything. I drove into Columbia around 7:30 (as opposed to 6:30 because apparently there are time zones to cross on this trip), finding the home of one of the greatest friends I’ve ever known — Misti Bailey.
Misti & I lived together in Nepal for a summer three years ago. She astounds me with her faith and her kindness, her compassion and her love for others. We’ve been sick together, dealt with taxi drivers together, and laughed and cried together. I wasn’t about to come anywhere near the east coast without coming by to see her and Mark.
Mark was in Nepal with us, only he was in the mountains. He’s wise and kind and funny and brilliant. Like Misti and Aaron, he is one of the most amazing people I know. Somehow, when I’m with these three people, I’m comfortable in a way I’m not usually comfortable. Maybe it’s the experience of being in a third-world country together. Who knows. But I’m lucky to have them, and I’m lucky to be here with Misti and Mark for a couple days.
After eating a Mediterranean supper, Misti & I got some supplies and we went to Mark’s place to make chiya. Nepali chai. One of the most brilliant things ever created. Conversation was beautiful. Tomorrow, there will be more of both. Can’t wait!