So much road. So many white lines ticking away aside our little Honda at 65 miles per hour. Two thoughts constantly cross my mind. Where do we get all this asphalt? And why can’t we send some to Africa? For seven weeks this Spring, the country opened up before us over five thousand odd miles of America. With no tape deck and a malfunctioning cruise control, we pressed on at times keeping pace with a Wal-Mart truck, searching the airwaves for a clear country music station or tuning into Rush Limbaugh when able. There’s something special about the possibility of seeing this vast country in a thousand dollar car, no passports required, no roadblocks or bandits lying in wait—every road leads to another and you can, without a doubt, “get there from here.” At the momentary sight of a thirty foot American flag filling the sky in powerful, graceful waves you could almost hear freedom ring, and most certainly feel the hair stand up on your arms before it passes. I catch myself looking for flags, following them in my rear view mirror as if I might never see another. We had never appreciated our country so much until we left it. Now we were seeing America through new eyes—seeing it for the first time all over again. From her cramped back seat Amelia searches the sky for airplanes, making sure we see them too. She watches the signs with mommy, listening intently and calling off the places we are coming from and going to. “Klahoma!” without the O. These are moments money cannot buy—being free, being extremely rich in faith and family— we savor our time together and enjoy all the good America has to give. I revel at how accurate and easy to read our highway signs are. I wonder why people are upset over the cost of 89 octane. Coming from East Africa, it’s half price. But even though gas may be pricey out here, convenience is still king. I can swipe my VISA card at the pump—at the hotel or the grocery store. There’s even a cash machine at McDonalds. The McCashomatic? I make a withdraw just for fun and buy my girls a sundae. We consider a stop for lunch at Wen-Ho’s 60 foot all-you-can-eat China Buffet, (Sixty feet!) but we are content to pass on just pondering the billboard. Sure it’s a land of plenty, but in more profound ways than mere consumerism. As the highways and historic Main Streets lead us from town to town, city to heartland to seashore, we spend our precious days between with the many people across the country who are bound by a common interest and involvement with us. These are the people who have supported us with sacrifice and carried us in prayer. There’s nothing quite so moving as a friend telling us we have been prayed for every day—Every single day for more than three years. How do you say thank you for something like that? There seems to be no shortage of people who count their blessings here in America, and who understand where we are coming from. They are a generous and graceful people. We find ourselves at a number of impromptu speaking opportunities; to a waitress, a store clerk, a truck driver, in a church lobby, a living room, a country club, and a hair salon. To wide eyes and open hearts we share our experiences of adventure and faith in Africa. Some folks tell us we are crazy— some say we are brave. “I respect what you do.” “Thank you for the work you do.” “I wish I could do what you guys are doing.” “Can I have your autograph?” (it happened.) Sweet old ladies stuffing cash in my shirt pocket, being asked to stand up, say a few words, lead in prayer, send our newsletter—we feel like celebrities at times—always welcomed, often pampered, and occasionally applauded. I keep thinking what good people we have in this country. People who will give you the time of day, give you a part of their day, and even give you a part of their lives. We dine with people drowning in debt. We eat with millionaires. We find ourselves in the midst of family. We find ourselves thanking strangers. Amelia finds in everyone a friend, demonstrating to us a lesson on loving our neighbor—reminding us who our neighbors are. So what if our car broke down twice. So what that we got lost in St Louis. So what that it rained for a week in Florida. We drove a thousand miles in a new car. We saw the Arch. We spent time indoors with our parents on vacation. We had pizza in Chicago. We saw horses in Oklahoma. I flew a biplane built in 1941. We explored America and found it to be beautiful. And the people are the most beautiful part—People from very different parts of the country, very different walks of life. Citizens of this great land and in their hearts and actions, citizens of Heaven. America the beautiful—God shed His Grace on thee.