October 2nd to 5th – Elkhart, Indiana

Well… I am starting to see that it will be difficult to make daily blog entries through the rest of my trip. Some days I don’t go on crazy adventures and don’t really do anything worth writing about. I am enjoying every day, but some of the joys of this trip are the little things — like rest and spending time with people. And I don’t want to fill these posts with details that are only interesting to me; I want to write about the exciting stuff that I would want to read about.

Also, my slow writing has been up taking several hours each day, which has left less time and energy for the experiences of this trip. I think that I need to re-prioritize. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to explore new places and spend time with relatives and friends. I have to keep that at the center of my efforts and let writing play second fiddle. So for these reasons, I am going to start grouping some days together and taking longer to post updates.

My parents warned me not to set my expectations too high for this blog Of course, I did — because if I didn’t dream of accomplishing big things, I would never get off the couch to do anything at all. I am glad I started this blog and made it this far because it showed me how hard it is to live life and analyze it at the same time. Now I have to take a step back so that I can make the most of my trip. It may take a while for me to write it all down, but I will finish it eventually. Writing will wait while living won’t, so I will worry about the living part right first.

And now, back to your regularly scheduled programming! After a night spent at a rest stop just inside the border of Michigan (October 2nd), I drove into Indiana for the second time on this trip. Last week I visited family in southern Indiana. This time I drove into the northern part of the state for a three-day stay with friends who live in the small town of Elkhart.

I spent two days (October 3rd and 4th) with Scott and Ulrike, who have been friends of our family for years. Like all the people who have so graciously hosted me thus far, they made me feel completely welcome and at home right away. Ulrike made the time to take me on a tour of Elkhart on the first day of my visit. We began with a brisk walk along a river that used to power a gristmill.

Our conversation on this walk and throughout the day highlighted a unique experience I have had while reconnecting with people on my journey. When I have visited with family friends before, I have always been with my family. I’ve been Matthew, alongside my brothers and parents. As I’ve spent time with people on this trip though, there hasn’t been a family to hide behind. I am just Matthew, and this has allowed (and required) me to build a more individual relationship with longtime family friends. It makes me feel rather grown up!

Our tour continued with a visit to the nearby Amish community. While driving, we passed a lot of white houses with carriages out front. When we reached the town, we made stops at a cheese factory, a grocery store (where they sold excellent peach ice cream), a donut/bread shop, and a garden. Ulrike had hoped to show me an Amish blacksmith that she had heard about, but for some reason we hadn’t been able locate him or his website with a Google search. Go figure!

Our last stop was a riverwalk that took us to Island Park, where the Elkhart river joins the St. Joseph river.

The next day, Scott gave me a tour as well – although I didn’t get to eat any ice cream while I was with him. His tour took me through the offices, storage facilities, and workshop of SonSet Solutions, which is a missionary organization that seeks to use technology to equip gospel teachers and engage global audiences. He and Ulrike have worked with SonSet for as long as I have known them.

I lacked the technical expertise to appreciate everything that Scott explained to me, but I enjoyed the tour. He showed me one of the enormous short-wave radio towers that SonSet has used overseas to broadcast the gospel, as well as the radio receivers they distribute to people who are interested in listening to the broadcast.

On the last day of my visit, I got to sit in on a meeting of editors and writers at SonSet. I appreciated that opportunity since I am interested in pursuing a career in professional writing, which may include editing or copywriting.

I spent my last night with Marla and Curt, two new friends from SonSet Solutions. We had a wonderful dinner and discussion about Christianity.

I woke up to a beautiful view of the cornfield behind their back yard. We said our goodbyes, and I was on my way to Pennsylvania.

I will be spending the night in Harrison National Forest tonight. My drive was accompanied by rain most of the way. Despite the weather, I had to make a stop for a few minutes at a basketball court along the way to take a break from driving and shoot some baskets.

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