Hard to believe we’ve been doing this for twelve years… the missionary road trip. Back in 1997 we drove Renee’s little red Cavalier over ten thousand miles on our first “deputation” trip—raising up our support before the big move to Africa. I can hardly remember that trip save a few memories. We have this one picture in our photo album of Renee and I out in Nebraska somewhere. The camera’s propped up on a rock and I’m laying out in a grassy, wide-open plain. Renee has her pretty little head resting on mine and we both look so young. I love that picture.

Each furlough after, we would carve out a similar circuit cross country, racking up thousands of miles over what might appear to be a haphazard course through a dozen states east of the Mississippi. First one, then two kids in the back seat. But always pretty much the same route. The lines on the map were like a connect-the-dots that, once finished, revealed a picture that only we could truly appreciate.

All those places we go to are not so much about geography. Roads lead to people. And we know some really great people. Folks who support our ministry and pray for our family. Folks who have encouraged us for these twelve years, and even before that.

Part of our job when we’re on the road is to tell them about the work—to “bring home” a taste of the ministry God has placed us in. I consider that role a privileged one. But honestly, I think these trips bless us more than the ones we visit with. We’ll come with pictures and videos, and (better yet) stories. But we always go with full hearts (and full stomachs). Every furlough we make new friends. It gets harder each time to see even a fraction of them.

So we leave tomorrow morning and hope for good weather and light traffic. We’ve got the homeschool books packed alongside our streamlined suitcases. The iPod is charged and a favorite playlist of Don Williams songs is standing by. I’ve aired up the tires, and the land of the free (excepting a few tolls) beckons us “drive.”

Hope we can see you along the way.