Favorite Pastime - Resting!

Favorite Pastime - Resting!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Barefoot Running in Canada and Africa!

Hello Barefooters,
This was quite a month and sorry, but I'm a little late posting since I was out of country at the end of the month.  The month of June included the Lutes family vacation to Canada as well the start of the Hope in The Harvest Mission trip to Ganta, Liberia, Africa at the end of the month.
The month started with yet another record breaking week of 52 miles in the first week of June.  This included a business trip to Chicago during which I turned in 4 consecutive days of 11 miles each on June 3,4,5,and 6.  I knew I would be taking the two out of country trips later in the month so now seemed like the time to bank some mileage. 
Then once the kids finally got out of school, we headed north for our Canadian camping adventure.  This trip was our family's first "out of country" vacation and we planned a driving loop around Lake Superior.  The first stop was at Sault Ste. Marie, MI and two nights of camping in the Soo Locks Campground.  I got in a nice run the last day from the campground, shown here.
We toured the locks by boat and had a nice time camping and cooking over the open fire.  We bought some fresh Michigan asparagus on the way, which we cooked in butter in the skillet over the fire...it was VERY tasty.  We started each of our mornings with bacon and eggs over the fire...my mouth is watering as I type, just remembering the smell!
Barefoot campground route along Kaminastiquia River
Next we headed north and crossed into Canada.  We decided to make the long haul to Thunder Bay, Ontario and camp all our Canada nights in one spot to minimize the set up and tear down.  It was a long drive but very scenic and we wound up at the Fort William Campground which was right outside the Fort William Historical Park.  We toured the park one day and toured a nearby amethyst mine on another day.  We finished our 4 day stay at the Kakabeka Falls on the Kaminastiquia River and a visit to the Observatory/Planatarium at Fort William Park.  I was able to run all four mornings from the Fort William Campground and ran different routes and distances each day from 4 to 7.5 miles.  We then drove back down through Duluth, Minnesota stopping at Grandma's Saloon for lunch (marathoners know Grandma's as the finish line for the annual Grandma's Marathon which was held the following weekend). 
We stopped that night in Deforest WI, where I got in a nice early morning barefoot 10K run through the dairy country just north of Madison.  The roads were so smooth I felt like they must have been paved with butter!
After this it was home to get caught up on work and the grass mowing, before heading to Africa (Ganta, Liberia) for a 16 day mission trip with Hope in the Harvest Missions International.  This trip came together rather quickly through much praying and soul searching.  God assembled a great team for this trip, bringing together widely varying professions including teaching, farming, medical, engineering, political, clergy and publishing.  We were all blessed through this work and were doubly blessed by the wonderful people of Liberia who received us warmly with their friendly smiles and their true joy in discovering new ways to enjoy the bounty God gives us all each and every day.  We shared a program called "Farming God's Way" which teaches Bilblically based farming techniques geared to increase production and care for the soil and and the natural "God's Blanket" of mulch from the previous year's crop.  Other team members shared by teaching classes such as knitting, water color painting and Bible study.  One team member worked to catalog the campus library books.  We also assembled a green house, and installed gates and fencing.  My buddy Steve Wand built a much needed potting bench which now graces the green house entrance. 

Parachute games at VBS in Ganta, Liberia
The Bangladeshi UN contingent in Ganta brought earth moving equipment to help us clear the land for a new farm field which will begin a mechanized verion of Farming God's Way. 
Once the field was cleared we used our new "one row" planter to plant this first mechanized planting on the mission site.  We were also blessed by the folks at Christ UMC in Westfield IN (my home church) who donated an Essentials Kit for the Alpha program which is used to revitalize and grow Christian congregations around the world.  We trained 4 local pastors to bring this Alpha experience to their congregations over the next year.  Another highlight of the trip was a 3 day VBS in which 180 kids attended...the parachute activity (shown above) was the nightly high point of the activities.  Before I went on this trip, I was very unsure whether I would be able to do any barefoot running at all due to the poor condition of the roads.  But, I was surprised to find that I could actually run the roads around the guest houses, and did so with my buddy Tom Miklik and new friend Jakub Kysel (who is from Slovakia). 

Running buddy Tom and new Liberian friend Samson

Tom ran with me for several of my runs in Ganta, while Jakub was with me when I explored the "streets" and beach in the capital of Monrovia on our last day in the country.  We enjoyed the sandy surfaces of the streets and then once we got to the beach, we actually ran part of the beach section in or near the actual surf.  This beach has a severe slant, so after only about 1 mile or so on the beach, we headed back to the guest house.  It was a great ending to an awesome trip and a beautiful experience where I met many new friends both in Liberia and Slovakia as well as back here in Indiana.
Monrovian Beach Run with Jakub
Looking back at the month , I ran about a total 19 barefoot miles in Canada, 20 barefoot miles in Liberia and look forward to running more in the future.  For the month of June, the total was 114 miles which was much better than expected considering all the travel days and other activities.  So, barefooters, If you ever get the chance to go to Liberia, to share your faith or any other reason...GO!

Run Safe,

Barefoot Dan

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