“Hi, my name is Jasmine. I’m cycling across the country with my doggy, Fiji, and we’re looking for a place to camp out tonight. Could we stay on the church’s property?” As I handed her my flyer, she put her hand up. “You have to go next door. Go ask in the church office.” She gave directions.
“Thank you.” I was a little disappointed. You don’t know how hard it is to ask for generosity in our society. For me, my faith in people went to no man’s land a long time ago. A single parent, my mom struggled for years, without help from my father, neighbors, strangers, friends or the government. I grew up with the “every person for him or her self” mentality. The only living things you could count on were loyal, unconditional loving canines and immediate family, but I even hesitate to ask my mom for anything since she has enough on her mental and physical plate. I learned independence at a young age.
So, when I started preparing for this journey, the most nerve-wracking part of it involved asking for donations. Whether for Missouri Lions Eye Research Foundation or myself, I put my head down and mumble, “Would you like to donate a little to our cause?” Yeah, that’ll get the wallets out the pocket.
Fiji whimpered loudly outside. I tied her up to a pole near the bike. “Hush, Fiji. Gosh,” Frustration kicked in. It had been a rough day. This was the point where one mile felt like 10 and one block felt like 20. I started rolling my bike, Fiji now in the trailer, towards the parking lot.
A woman with short brunette hair stood next to her van, staring at us. A man was standing on the other side of the vehicle, talking with her. She was so enthralled with my set up, though. She had a huge smile on her face.
“What’s going on here?” She asked.
“Oh, I’m just cycling to San Diego, CA with my dog, and we need a place to stay tonight. I’m going to ask the people in the office if I can either campout or be hosted.” Yeah, no big deal.
She turned to the man she had been speaking with, looked at the van, the ground, and then back at me. “I’ll host a cyclist!”
“Really?! Are you sure?” Oh great, way to give her an out, Jasmine.
“Yeah, I have a meeting, but I can pick you up after.”
I thanked her a bunch. Her name is Lois Bennet.
We waited around and talked to several people, including Ryan, who donated police-grade pepper spray, and Jeff, who is an avid cyclist. Jeff cycled across America several years ago, but could not believe the weight I managed to haul so far.
Lois came about 45 minutes later. Ryan helped us to load everything in the car. The bike stayed in the church. We drove off.
That night, I also helped Lois at a food pantry held at the church. I met wonderful people who prayed for my safety on the trip, but didn’t discourage it. Many of the members in the church ride with the Freedom Riders. They’re a group of long distance cyclists who ride for a cause. Therefore, they all understood the need to get in the saddle and keep pedaling.
I will upload a video soon! It’s been hard finding the time and software to do so. I’m looking for someone to edit for me. Know anyone? Shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This cycling adventure has shown me a good side of people. There is so much bad, we often lose sight of the wonderful people out there willing to lend a helping hand. I hope I continue to meet great people like Lois along the way.