Post 16 – June 29, 2018. The Camino de Assisi. Persist, persist, persist. I made it to Assisi!

The Camino de Assisi. 
The Way of St Francis.
Italy: From Florence to Assisi, then on to Rome. Trek For A Dream.  
Post 16: June 29, 2018, Friday.  Completed Stages 14 and 15 in Sandy Brown guide, Maria Theresa at Agriturismo Valdichiascia to Valfabbrica, then Valfabbrica all the way to . . . Assisi.  
I’m in Assisi today for a full day. Gone 19 days.  Day 17 trekking The Way.
Persist, persist, persist.  I made it to
Assisi. 

Persist, persist, persist.  I made it to Assisi late yesterday afternoon after two hard days of trekking from Agriturismo Valdichiascia to Valfabbrica, then from Valfrabbrica all the way to . . . Assisi, thank God!  And late yesterday afternoon, I sat in Assisi with Thess (from Germany), Marcus (from Germany), and Darcie (from Canada), and we all just sunk into our chairs, drank lots of fluids, surveyed the current state of our bodies, and discussed how we all trekked together at times, got separated at times, got lost a few times, retraced steps a few times, and then, finally . . . made that last insanely hard ascent up the mountain to Assisi, the one last test for the day to see if, we were worthy to enter the famous arch, and trek to the incredible Basilica Di St. Francesco E Sacro Convento to visit and be blessed at the two churches built one above the other, both built from around 1230 to 1253.

And, yes, eventually I/we would need another rescue.  On Tuesday night, June 26, after the trek from Gubbio (where I was attacked by a wolf), I sat there at the Agriturismo Valdichiascia and licked my wounds and soothed my humble pride and was glad to have just made it there despite the same problems, sore everything, lots of ascents, and long segments of the path, and so I wrote the last post. And then I was joined at dinner by a German, Marcus, and a Canadian, Darcie.  And we really had a great meal and Maria Theresa and her daughter took great care of us, played wonderful music and gave us guidance for the next day’s trek.  By dinner time, I was glad I had found this delightful place in the middle of nowhere, done my wash, hung it up to dry, did my post, and . . . met two great pilgrims, and we talked and talked, solved many of the world’s problems, and discussed how the Camino helps pilgrims craft a life.  And, they loved and were inspired by the Prayer Cards.  So, we decided to trek together the next day, all the way to Valfabbrica — which I felt was too far for me, with my legs and feet being so sore and my humble pride being beat up, but, I agreed to do so, and . . . of course, I read every one of the encouraging emails from my friends and family, and so, I was ready to do it, all the way.  And, very thankful for all the encouragement, and remembering one of Pastor Matthew’s sermons on Encouraging yourself.  I did a lot of talking to myself as I trekked up those hills on Wednesday.  Persist.  But, soon, we would need another rescue, different from the ones I had already had.

The first thing I noticed when I woke up on Wednesday morning was–no pain.  No soreness.  What happened?  Where was it?  I couldn’t find my soreness, my aching feet, injured right foot, bug bites, blisters, injured pride, anything.  I thought, be cool, it’s probably there somewhere.  Just chill and get ready with Marcus and Darcie to trek all the way to Valfabbrica.  But, I felt amazingly strong as we trekked out of Agriturismo Valdichiascia, and I felt, no problem I can make it.  Still, I couldn’t believe how sturdy and strong my legs felt, and . . . I felt.  Hmmm, some kind of Breakthrough happened.  Keep trekking.  So, about two thirds into a long trek with Marcus and Darcie, who were just great to walk talk and trek with, Marcus said that his guidebook had a shortcut along the river far below, which would be cooler than the highground very hot trail we were on so . . . Darcie and I followed Marcus as he (and his German guidebook) led us down a long mountain pass into . . . Oh mercy, one of Italy’s biggest construction projects . . . a major dam.  Yes, a dam — that was huge! like dams are.  And our path led us to a mountain road with dump trucks screaming by with loads of dirt and kicking up monster clouds of dust, wind swirling, blinding heat of a different nature, and impossible to get out of the way of the trucks, while the drivers signaled to us—we are crazy to be there!  Then a truck came and watered down the road and signaled to us that he was trying to help, and it did a little, but we trudged forward knowing it was impossible to go back and it would take hours to retrace our steps.  And then . . .

An Italian construction worker drove up in a smaller weird looking dirt and dust covered jeeptype of thing and signaled as politely as possible that he needed to get us out of danger, and we got the message and hopped in.  He took us to the top of the dam being built so we got a good view of all that was going on.  He let us out of the truck gestured quick emphatically to walk the long way across the top of the dam and take a left . . . and we would be fine.  And, so we did.  And, several hours later we walked into Valfabbrica and were so happy, we found a place to eat and drink and be happy. And happy we were.  And, still, I was no longer sore, and had no problems at all with my humble vessel of a body.  I am seriously feeling . . . strong.  Bottom line:  all of you were right!  Hang in there for your breakthrough.  It was right around the corner all the time.  I know we know that, but it is always great to so clearly experience it.  On the Camino of Life.  The trekking was and is still hard, but now, I’m so up to it, ready for it, enjoying it, capable.  I love it.  I shall carry on.

So, Thursday morning I was up early in Valfabbrica and searched out a cafe for coffee and watched the townspeople get ready for a wonderful day, everyone saying to me buongiorno as they walked by and I sipped my Americano.  And I got out the Prayer Cards.  And some pilgrims showed up and sat with me, and asked: what are those?  I told them, and, I could see how they were so inspired that me and my 300 friends believed so strongly in: prayer.  And I told them many things including the title and some thoughts from one of Matthew’s recent sermons on May 6, 2018: The Fastest Way to Change Your Life.  Prayer!  So, they were inspired and said they would also write out their own dream or something they were working on, and pray about it.  Give it over to God.  Get some help.  “He’s on our side,” as our friend Charles Nieman says.  And so, a quick mention to Miguel who wants to be an EVANGELIST (in full caps on his card), Heather who wants to Pastor a church in Colorado and to live with her twin daughters again, and to Esai (sp?) who wants his rap music to be used for ministry.  I’m praying for you my friends, and I love you all so much.  It is you that are blessing people on this trek.  Please remember.

Mercy, I’m so thankful for all of you.  As our Pastors always tell us, if we can help just one soul, we have so much to be thankful for. I was told I had helped to raise about $5,000.  That’s about what it costs to help one person in DCD for a year.  I’m thankful to everyone.  Humbled that I have a goal to help ten. It feels a little daunting, but, well, I’ll pray for a miracle.  Trek for a Dream.

I miss you all so much.  I’m in Assisi, and I have so much more to talk about . . . .

Love,

Tom.

The Way.

Sometimes you get steps. I’m thankful.

Marcus from Germany; Darcie from Canada.

Maria Theresa and her daughter at Agriturisimo Valdichiascia.  They really love to take care of pilgrims.

I try to hand wash my laundry every night, and hope it drys by the morning.

Abandonment ceremony.  Marcus and Maria Theresa helping me abandon some shorts on the Camino.  You are always abandoning something you no longer need on the Camino, and in life.

The dam.

The Italian guy who rescued us.

The dam was really big.

I thought I was lost, but Thess from Germany had left me a sign. I knew it was her.  And I kept going.