By request: Mike Bickle gets me a glass of water (and I almost get abducted by a trucker)
In another post, while referencing IHOP, I mentioned that Mike Bickle had once given me a glass of water. My friend Lisa asked me to expand on that, so:
It started by me being lured to Alaska by my Aunt Phyllis. She promised me that boatloads of money could be mine by processing fish. Pay was fantastic for a college student: $18-27 an hour, and I could live with her, so I would have no expenses, except for my plane flight. Wow. So, early May through early August of 1992, I was a resident of Ketchikan, Alaska. However, due to the vagaries of the various fishing seasons, there wasn’t much work for me; it turned out that, that year, most of the money was to be made right when I left, and into the early autumn. So, I left Alaska with only about $100, or what was left after paying for my flight. It was still a fantastic summer, and I have no regrets about going.
The reason I left when I did was to attend a worship festival — think Woodstock for Christians — that was to take place in Langley, British Columbia the first week of August. You can find all sorts of outdoor, multi-day festivals for all sorts of music now, but back then, fifteen years ago, they were pretty uncommon. The festival was put on by the Vineyard in Langley, and was to have all the really influential Vineyard worship leaders at the time, including Brian Doerksen, Kevin Prosch, Andy Park, Terry Butler, the violet burning, and others. I was so looking forward to it.
The only problem was that my flight placed me in Seattle, not Langley (which isn’t too far from Vancouver). I thought that it would be relatively easy and relatively inexpensive to find a place to stash my big duffle bag and get a bus ride to Langley. Well, that turned out to be a, “NO” on both accounts. There were no overnight lockers in the Seattle airport, and the cheapest place to keep my bag for the five or six nights I would be gone wanted $40, which just wouldn’t do. I had only that $100, and that had to get me to Canada and feed me for a week, so I couldn’t spare it. I did find a bus ticket, but I couldn’t find a route from Seattle directly to Langley, only to the US/Canada border. I had to stay overnight in the Seattle airport, and by the time I had paid for a couple of meals, some snacks for the trip, and my bus ticket, I was down to less than $40.
I figured that, once I was inside Canada, I could find another bus to take me to Langley. I envisioned a rather metropolitan place, as the map showed towns dotting the roads from the border along the roads into Langley; it appeared to me that all of it was just one big suburb of Vancouver. I was wrong.
I also had a bit of worry from the multiple signs on the bus, and at the border crossing, informing those coming into Canada that no one would be admitted with less than (I think it was) the equivalent of $100 Canadian, which was about US$140, fully $100 more than I had to my name. I tried not to let my face belie my beating heart, as I stood in line and listened to the border guard grill each bus passenger — he was asking everyone how much money they had. Finally, it was my turn, and the guard unzipped my giant duffle, and smilingly asked where I was headed. Thankfully, all my accomodations had been taken care of beforehand, and I could honestly give my destination. It was the dorms of a local college, and he wanted to know what was going on there in early-August, before classes started. I told him about the worship festival, with which he was very intrigued. He couldn’t imagine a bunch of folk getting together to sing “church music” for days on end. We talked about that for a while, and then he zipped up my bag and sent me on my way. Whew!! No mention of money, bless God.
However, on the other side of the border crossing was nothing. Just grassy fields, a few trees, and some long, straight roads with hardly even any cars on them!! I had eight miles to go — it was eight miles to Langley. The bus departed, and I was the only one who had not continued on it. It was obvious that the border wasn’t a bus station; there were no continuing lines, as I had thought there would be.
So, I started walking. This wouldn’t have been a problem — I was in good shape, and very used to walking. However, I had an insanely large and unwieldy duffle bag, and I was wearing a pair of relatively new jump boots (combat boots).
The day was gorgeous. It was still mid-morning, and the air was cool, the skies clear, and the green land around me gently undulating. However, it didn’t take long at all until I was very uncomfortable — hot, sweaty, and nursing a number of painful blisters. My shoulders ached from the piece of heavy luggage I was hefting. And the shirt I was wearing was a very dark green tee, almost black, which, of course, made me feel even hotter. I wasn’t hungry; I had enough snacks. But I was very thirsty, and there was nothing in sight — no houses, let alone any stores. There were a few farms, set back from the road, but I was not going to go knocking on any doors asking for water.
Finally, about two miles out from Langley, there was a gas station. I got some water, and my first oddly-shaped pack of Canadian cigarettes. I was somewhat refreshed, but also very, very discouraged. I was tired and hurting, and still had one quarter of my “walk” to go.
I was walking along a two-lane country “highway,” and a semi slowed down and pulled to the side of the road ahead of me. As I pulled up alongside it, the trucker inside opened the door and called out to me, offering me a ride. Knowing it was foolish, I accepted, hoping that Canadians were less crime-prone than Americans. I told the man my destination, knowing that it would only take a couple of minutes to get there. I immediately started getting uncomfortable when he started making complimentary comments about my appearance. Then, he said he knew a “back way” to my destination, which would make it “easier” for me. I said nothing, and started praying like mad. We sped down the road, passing what I knew was my turnoff. He said his alternate route was just a bit further on… just a bit further… just up here… I stopped praying, looked him in the eye, and said with way more authority than I felt, “Stop right now and let me out here.” Amazingly, he stopped. I got out, panting my prayers of thanks and relief to God.
Consulting my map, I saw that he had taken me a good three miles past my destination. Not only had I nearly been abducted, but the whole event added yet another mile for me to travel.
Finally, I stumbled up to the church. I knew I wasn’t actually staying at the church, but I thought maybe I could rest for a bit there, and find out where, exactly, the college was where I’d be staying. The front door was locked. A side door was locked. Around back was one more door; it looked like a service entrance. I didn’t have much hope; there was only one or two cars in the parking lot. But the door opened. A man looked out and said, “Can I help you?” It was Mike Bickle. I had seen his picture before. I told him that I was there for the festival, and was wondering if he knew where the college was that had rooms for festival attendees. He told me it was about a mile and a half up the road.
I burst into tears.
I hadn’t cried that whole time, but now, an absolute flood came out. I was so, so tired. My body hurt so badly. Plus, the emotions of almost getting abducted just poured out. And now, yet another mile and a half to walk? I sobbed.
I don’t remember the exact order of things, but he started asking me questions, and found out that I’d just walked from the border. He was shocked. He called his wife, Diane, and asked her to get a glass of water for me. He called to another guy, whose little red pickup truck was one of the few cars in the parking lot, and asked him to give me a ride. He found a muffin for me. He found a napkin, which I used to wipe my tears and my nose, apologizing. He sat with me on a curb, and chatted with me for a bit while I ate and drank. He told me his name was Mike, and I didn’t let on that I knew who he was. When we got up, I said, “Thank you, Mr. Bickle” and he smiled.
The festival is a whole ‘nother story, full of fabulous, rapturous, glorious worship for hours on end, and also a minor story of unrequited love. This is the cover of the CD from the event, thanks to this site for the pic. That’s me, on the cover, in the middle of the photo, with my black violet burning tee (which I still own), a fabulous silver bracelet (which I, regrettably, lost), and very short hair. The CD is still listed at www.worshipmusic.com, but it’s out of print.