Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Snake Attack & Meals with the locals (-8days)

Hello from Amarillo in north west Texas! I'm enjoying a rest day today for the 1st time in a long time & have met some great folks here already. My last blog entry was from a town called Snyder where I almost had a heart attack upon leaving. As I left the town I was walking along the edge of a quite little road & very diligently peeling back the lid of my blueberry yogurt... so diligently infact that I didn't see the 5ft bull snake curled up in front of me! The first I saw of it was a flash of brown & the flip top, 180degree open, fangs protruding mouth as it launched itself through the air at my left knee. With a reflex jump into the air I sort of hurdled the rocketing snake, spun in the air & landed facing it as it smacked down on the road beneath me. I quickly backed away & it recoiled & began to puff itself up & hiss loudly. It missed me by about 1 inch & I think that Jackie Chan would have been proud of my 'jump & spin', not necessarily because I avoided being bitten, but simply because I didn't spill any yogurt! Now that would have been a bad start to my morning :-) As you can see from the photo, they are pretty well comouflaged against the roads here so it can be difficult to spot them as they warm up on the edge of the road. I've seen a lot more since then but well before they were flying through the air. I even spotted a young rattle snake which didn't seem too bothered with me being there so I spent a some time watching it. I placed my walking pole in close to its head & it quickly recoiled into a striking position & began to rattle its tail. That was all I wanted to see - 1st time I've seen the rattle in action! I left it alone from there (btw, any children reading this, do not place a walking pole in front of snake to make it do something - very dumb). I've now reduced my 15days behind schedule in order to cross the border on time to just 8days. My body is very sore though due to the extra distances. I had the sniffles for a little while as well. I slept in my hammock outside a highway bar (Jesse Jane's) enroute between two towns a large distance apart & just as I set my hammock up & jumped in it began to rain. Everything was soaked (including me) & so I didn't sleep particularly well. Consequently I've sniffled a little since. I think it's almost passed now though. This is beautiful country up here (minus snakes) & I've seen some enormous 3km trains pushing across the northern Texas plains & it's quite a sight. I've been very blessed to share some meals with many different locals along the path & I must extend a very big thankyou to the Spanish community in Plainview who took up a collection for me while I was eating elsewhere at someone's house. They payed for my accomodation & the next day's meals. Thanks guys! I also shared a meal with Rick, a Church of Christ preacher, & his beautiful family in a town called Happy - the town without a frown! That's for real... that's its slogan :-) A few hours after leaving Happy a fellow called Max Stevenson pulled up beside me with an array of angora socks. He'd been talking with Rick & figured I'd need some new socks! They're very comfy & bright red!! Theyr'e great, so thanks to Max from 'Bar S'. Everyday as I walk I pray as I trundle along but I set aside 1hr specifially to simply pray & 'be' with the Lord. On the 44km walk from Floydada to Plainview I was about 30minutes into my 'Me & God' time when an army vetran pulled over to see if I needed a lift. He was a faith-filled man & after hearing of what I was doing he offered to not only pray for unity but to pray for the next half an hour with me as he continued in his car. It was great to know that for the next 30mins someone else was interceeding with me. It really lifted me. And then, just to top it off, an hour later he pulled up beside me again, opened his car door & invited me to take a small rest & enjoy a meal with him that he'd bought at the next town. So we ate & chatted for more than just a small rest & then eventually headed our seperate ways again. All up though, I've been very blessed with the company of so many hospitable Texans. On the down side, 2 nights ago I stayed in a small hotel & channel-surfed the cable tv through all the various Christian stations. I was amazed at the array of teachings & preachings of the different stations & it unfortunately drove home even further the division amongst Christians. Over 30mins, this is just a sample of what I heared; "The Baptist Church is run by a board & that is not in the bible!" Interdenominational Preacher. "Hell does not exist & the bible is not the exact word of God." Pentecostal Preacher. "Hell is very real & the bible, the word of God, desribes it vividly!" Pentecostal Preacher. "The Holy Spirit whispered to me, 'I can get you money anywhere in the world'." & "The Lord wants to bless you with financial security, so if you send a $1000 deposit right now to the address on your screen you too can allow the Lord to bless you." Preacher Wisdom Centre Church. "We need to make attonment for our sins! Send a minimum of $60 to the address below & begin to make your attonement with God." Unknown Preacher. "The Catholic Church seeks to control your life." Pentecostal Preacher. "The Pentecostal Chruch is so legalistic." Evangelical Preacher. And so on, and so on... It was incredibly sad to watch the 'Public Face' of Christianity to the oustside world. The truth is not relative & we sure aren't making much of Christ's prayer in John 17 - "May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me & have loved them even as you have loved me." If you are not already praying for unity, please join with the many thousands who are, particularly at 4:01pm each day. God bless & a big hello to everyone in Evelyn's history class! year 9.. That'd be all about the Middle Ages wouldn't it? I'll pray for you :-) See you next week! Sam.


Catherine said...

Hey Sam,

I just caught up on the last four or five blogs and they read so well one after the other...it's quite a story!
I feel a best seller coming on.
I really enjoy reading your insights into the challenge and inspiration of unity.
Blessings for the journey ahead. I thought this quote was an apt description of what you are seeking to do and encouraging each of us in.
"Be the change you want to see in the world" - Mahatma Ghandi

Martin, Lisa, Olivia, Emily & Julian Pannell said...

Hi buddie :) Great blog! Have you got someone saving your blog updates offline? I hope that they are all secure somehwre offline? They really would make for a great book with all your pics too :) You could direct proceeds of your book sales to the cause of Unity & my vegie patch! Small typo in your blog...Church became Chruch which I found amusing :) Emily & Julian pray 4 you every night & please know that many of us here in Australia are praying for & with you everyday so hopefully that gives you a lift each day just like the locals there who love you heaps - can't blame them! Bless you mate, MP & the fan club.

PS: Julian gets his own cereal now, so he can share some with you when we see you... He owes you a few sultanas!