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Updated: Friday, September 15, 2006
Manitou Springs, Colorado
Sitting at the base of Pike's Peak, Manitou Springs is a small, closely-knit alternative town clinging to the mountainside. Our friends there have a snug and inviting, 24-hour café called the Maté Factor, located at the edge of Soda Springs Park. It was in this park they hosted a festival and invited people from the surrounding area.
As expected there were tasty foods and drinks, music and dancing, but the conversations at the lecture tent and open forum tent were the highlight of the day as many guests boldly voiced an array of opinions about what they think are the solution to society's ills. It was so encouraging people had the freedom to express themselves and not allow their human voices to be silenced (although some zealous people had to be encouraged to let others have a turn). When we sang in a huge circle at the end of the day, there were still many guests present. Our friends, old and new, were visibly affected and you could watch their eyes move around the circle, looking intently at each face with rapt interest. As in Nelson, we got the impression that the locals realized their Twelve Tribe friends were not only nice people who ran a pleasant café, but were part of a bigger picture than they had previously thought; or maybe had even reinforced their sense or understanding that there is an emerging culture coming about.
It was in Manitou Springs at the end of the festival, the Merrymakers from the California communities were to head back west. "Oh, how will we finish the tour without them?" we lamented. We had been so appreciative of our time on the road together..... we would miss them immensely.
While traveling in Colorado we noticed Peacemaker I was smoking from the exhaust more than what is normal for a diesel bus. On investigation it appeared one or two of the engine injectors were bad and needed to be replaced. Hoping to be able to get into a bus/truck garage for repairs we were told by every garage called that they couldn't get to it for a few days. So, a couple of brothers stayed in Manitou Springs to do the repairs and would catch up to us in Weaubleau, Missouri.
May 24th, 2006
The festival in Weaubleau was a pleasant change in pace as this beautiful, rural farming area isn't quite as densely populated as the other places we have been on tour. Our brothers here have a beautiful, organic farm down in the Ozarks region. Fortunately, on the festival day, there was a strong breeze to moderate the heat.
Many older friends, who have lived in this farming area all their lives, came to the festival. These farmers are the 'salt of the earth' in this area and the community at the Stepping Stone farm is very thankful for their kind and gentle ways. Although we look a little different, they respect our values and conscientiousness and have been very generous with their farming experience.
As in areas all across the country we are meeting people who are more and more disillusioned with Christianity and have moved into rural areas to try and raise their families away from the bad influences of the world. We continued to hear people say they are losing hope in the world 'becoming a better place' and are even distancing themselves from organized religion. It seems some of these conservative Christians are sensing the coming alliance between "church and state' and are pulling away from formal church attendance. When we speak of God desiring a people who are going back to the original roots of the faith, many are open to listening. There are so many sincere people, tucked in out-of-the-way places, who really want to live a life pleasing to their Creator. We are thankful we could travel across the country and have opportunity to meet them.
Asheville, North Carolina
May 27th-29th, 2006
Joining us on the outskirts of Asheville, we were so grateful to have Peacemaker l with us again. It had been a long, hot trip but the caravan rolled into town on schedule. The community here in Asheville had organized a huge 3-day event in Pack Square ....right in the heart of the downtown.
Asheville is an amazingly unique place. It is a small city that strives to keep a 'town' kind of feel. There are many diverse groups (Christians, tourists, alternatives, artists...) that co-mingle through out the town in a very social kind of atmosphere - especially in the evenings. Every Friday night the city allows a 'drum circle' of anywhere from 100 to 300 people right in the middle of downtown where young or old, rich or poor, local or tourist, conjugate. Asheville is a place where really nobody stands out as looking or being unusual.
This is largest gathering of Merrymakers we have had thus far which is only fitting for the finale of the tour. Brothers and sisters have joined the original bus crews from Hillsboro, Virginia; Chattanooga, Tennessee and Brunswick and Savannah, Georgia, and the community here in Asheville. There are many musicians who have been drawing crowds of up to 200 in the evenings with Israeli folk music, Celtic, and blue-grass. People have been joining us in dance, coming on the buses and sitting and listening to the music. The open-forum tent has been crowded and buzzing with topics of interest. Again and again we say we are thankful to have the freedoms in this country to demonstrate a taste of our lives to those who have never met us. Again and again, we are thankful for the kind town officials and police who graciously make room for us.
More of the Asheville event coming soon....
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