Announcing the 2013 She’s My Sister Bike Tour!

 

Welcome to North Carolina

(2012 Cyclists left-right: Gordon, Parks, Jessica, Caroline, Abbey, Chris, Nick, Sam, Jon)

Decades of war and rape in the DR Congo have destroyed generations, but we know that God’s Word can heal and restore hope.  The recent events in Goma involving the M23 militia (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-20438531), remind us of the importance of trauma recovery.  Combining the 2011 and 2012 Bike Tours, 17 young adults road 4,000+ miles, and made 88 presentations to over 7,800 people.  Their focus was (and continues to be) speaking for their sisters in Congo, while raising awareness and funds for Bible-based, trauma healing.

The legacy of these 17 men and women continues.  So without further ado, we are excited to announce the much anticipated sign-up for the 2013 She’s My Sister Bike Tours.  Go to http://www.mysistertour.org/events/ for information about the following:

  • Southeast Tour (May 30th – June 9th): Daytona Beach, Florida to Cleveland Tennessee.
  • Great Lakes Tour (June 14th – June 23rd): Grand Rapids, Michigan to Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Join the 2013 Bike Tours as we cycle to bring the message of restoration and hope to our sisters in DR Congo.

TNF Share 5 26

(A Daytona Beach, FL event called GIVE CITE hosted by The Cite)

 

Looking Ahead: 2013 Tour

Be a part of the She’s My Sister community and engage in the story of justice. You have a voice! How will you use it in this next year to speak out for the women of the DRC?

Interested in cycling? Volunteer to be a part of next years bike tour. Peddle your bike to help change people’s lives. If you’re not a cyclist, there are other ways in which you can join this mission and become an advocate. Plan to host the team along the tour, coordinate an event in your town, be a financial sponsor for the trip, or volunteer as a support member on the team. This tour is so much more than just cycling for a few weeks. Its purpose is more than an adventure. The bike tour changes lives both in the States and in central Africa. You will have the chance to experience God in a new way and see how He equips, strengthens and grows you as you serve your Congolese Sisters.

Keep a look out here on the blog and also on the website for further information about the 2013 She’s My Sister Bike Tour. If you’re already interested, sign up here and you will receive future updates about the bike tour.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact Amanda:  aolsavsky@americanbible.org

Changing Lives Together

There is a woman, hurting, aching, and feeling utterly alone. After being raped multiple times, she has trouble moving and feels completely vulnerable. She dreads waking up each day and just wants to end it all. She is Dusabe Anyesi, a woman without hope, devastated, and considering death as her only escape from the pain and trauma of her past.

This is why we cycled, for Dusabe and the thousands of other women in the DRC and surrounding areas who have experienced similar horrific events in their lives. We know that God’s Word brings hope, healing, purpose and restoration. We want to get the Word of God into the hands of the Congolese and with the assistance of the scripture based trauma healing program, help them to restart their lives again. We believed that by cycling up the east coast, we could help to bring an awareness of the heartbreaking reality of Central Africa and move people to action. We were called by God to use our legs, to pedal for justice and our voices, to tell the stories of our Sister; to tell how even in the worst, and sometimes for us unimaginable, circumstances, God continues to show His faithfulness to restore lives, heal hearts and give hope and a purpose to the Congolese people.

But this story of justice has many faithful hands and hearts that are assisting in reaching our Sisters. We want to first thank everybody that has prayed, and continues to pray for these women. God hears the cries of His people and we urge you to faithfully lift up our Congolese Sisters. We also want to thank those that sacrificed financially, from our major donors to the children that gave up their whole piggy bank; it is such a blessing to know that every penny donated goes to help the women in Central Africa. Thank you to the churches and organizations that allowed our team to come and share the stories of our Sisters with your community. We are so grateful for all the families and locations that opened their doors and gave a place to sleep. Having air conditioning almost every night was great but getting to know and spend time with the individuals was even more of a blessing and something we as a team greatly treasure. There were so many others that provided food, helped with the organization of events, or just sent us encouraging words along the way, thank you. And this tour would not have happened without the dedicated and hard working Sister Team at American Bible Society. Thank you all so much for your efforts and time spent on the planning, organizing, designing, and working out all the small details of the bike tour. May God continue to use the She’s My Sister community to reach many more people for His Kingdom and bring justice and hope to the DRC.

- The 2012 Bike Team

Day 42-43: Zarephath, NJ and NYC

Thursday: We packed up our stuff and after our morning team time devotion and prayer from Rhonda, we cycled our way out of Pennsylvania and into New Jersey. It was a sunny day and the temperatures were starting to feel slightly cooler the further north we went; however, it was still hot. During the course of the ride some team members charged ahead while the others stayed behind and enjoyed the ride. At the lunch break we waited a while for the second set of cyclists hoping everything was okay. Then, once they arrived, found out they had stopped for some ice cream along the way. Now together, we all rode the last few miles to the Olszyk’s house. That evening we enjoyed conversation with the family and some of their cycling friends over an Italian dinner. Two of the individuals, Tommy and Anna, were preparing for their own bike tour and we were able to give them some advice as well as show some bike maintenance tips. They cycle with the purpose of raising money for motorcycles for Pastors in India. Check out their blog

Friday: It was hard to believe that today was the last day of riding for the bike tour. As we prepared to leave, we felt a mixture of sadness and excitement. There seemed to be at least 100 turns on our maps, but we were up for the challenge. It was a bumpy ride with so much traffic. Thankfully we were able to get on a bike path for part of the way through NJ.  We approached the Hudson river and met the van for a short lunch break. Then it was time to cross into New York. The only problem, the ferry was out of order. We then thought about riding across the George Washington Bridge but that notion was quickly struck down. So we headed to the train and made it into NYC. It was a blast weaving our way through the taxi cabs, other cars and people; there were people everywhere. We did get a little confused and split up while riding the subway but we all made it safely to the Bible House. The van and trailer also made it safely through the city with slightly less of a pleasant journey; quite nerve-racking but an experience. Our team was greeted by some of the Sister team, other ABS employees and our fellow rider Nick Athens. That evening we were able to spend some time with Nick at dinner and catch him up on all the stories from the tour since he departed. After dinner we walked around Times Square for a little while before heading back to the Bible house to pick up our stuff and go to our “homes” for the next few days. Although it would regularly be time to wind down, New York was still very much awake. So most of the team decided to join the crowds of the night and cycle through the city. This was a fantastic and memorable ride. What a great way to see the city and to start off our time here in New York.  See more pictures HERE.

Day 39-41: Easton, PA

Monday: The ABS Valley Forge office invited us to come and meet the staff and share how our tour had been going so far. We were scheduled to be a part of the all staff meeting in the morning and had a few minutes to each explain why we were on the bike tour as well as share our most memorable moment from the trip. It was nice to see familiar faces in the office as well as meet new people and learn how God is using them to spread His Word. After the meeting and a quick lunch, it was time to suit up and cycle. We were headed to Easton, about 50 miles away. This trip had beautiful scenery however the route was somewhat confusing and we had to backtrack a few times. We made it to the gorgeous Millen residence a little later than anticipated but just in time for dinner. A cookout by the pool with local supporters and also some team members from last year’s tour, Shannon, Emily, Lewie and  Marianne, was a great way to end the day. 

Tuesday: A skype meeting with ABS New York Office had been scheduled for that morning. On the call we had a very brief time to say hi and tell a few things about the trip. We would be able to share more once we arrived in NYC in the next few days. The rest of the morning we were able to relax. With time in the pool and hearing great stories from our hosts, it was a very enjoyable start to the day. That afternoon we caught up on some paperwork and other things before leaving for the evening. That night, we were presenting to a group at Cornerstone Evangelical Free Church. Lewie Briggs and the band led worship throughout the event and Gordon, Chris and Jon shared stories and updates from the DRC. There were times of prayer between songs in which we prayed for specific needs in the Congo. Thank you to the band, some who drove quite a ways, to share your gifts and lead us in a night of worship.

Wednesday: Although it was only a few miles to our next destination, we were feeling the end of the tour approaching and wanted to get as much riding in as possible. So we said goodbye to the Millens ( a huge thank you for your hospitality) and took a leisurely 15-18 mile ride through beautiful PA. We concluded the days ride at the home of Lee and Rhonda Manis where we showered and had a delicious lunch together. That afternoon we headed over to the local Chick-fil-a for Spirit Night. During the evening we would try and get signatures from customers and once we reached over 200 names, Chick-fil-a would donate a portion of that night’s proceeds to our initiative. So we set up the Sister banner and a table with brochures and waited. It was difficult as we couldn’t directly talk to customers about the tour unless they first asked. But after a few hours and lots of unique ways of talking with people and getting signatures, we reached our goal.

See more pictures from these days HERE

Day 36-38: Valley Forge, PA

Friday: Today we cycled over 100 miles on many interesting roads, some on which we did not need to ride: yes, we got a little lost just before lunch. But we made it into Pennsylvania and eventually to our destination, the National Christian Conference Center. After cleaning up, we headed to The Good Samaritan Church (Good Sam) to help set up for that night. We were partnering with Reilly, a band out of Philly, and two other music groups, Coastal Rise and Zach and Trina, to have an evening of music and information about She’s My Sister. After the music and presentation had ended, we had a chance to talk with folks about the bike tour and answer any questions they had.  The night was a lot of fun as well as financially beneficial for our Congolese Sisters. Thanks to the bands for joining us and sharing your wonderful talents. 

Saturday: Since we had a day without commitments or cycling, we were able to spend some time to catch up on things. One being sleep, but other things too like bike maintenance and cleaning out and reorganizing the trailer and the van. in the evening we all headed into Philly for dinner. Authentic cheesteaks were on the menu and we found just the place: Jim’s Steaks. It was delicious and well worth the trek. After our meal we walked along South St. and enjoyed a few of the sights before the rain started to come down!  Then we drove around a few other places and peered through the windows. It was a nice rejuvenating and productive day.

Sunday: We were back to Good Sam Church to present at their adult Sunday School. We were greeted with a great response by the folks there who were very interested in the cause and hope to partner with She’s My Sister in the future. That evening we enjoyed a cookout at the home of Matt and Morgan with delicious food and great fellowship.

See more pictures HERE.

Day 35: DC to Baltimore, MD

Before leaving Virginia, we had one more stop to make in the DC area. We had the privilege of talking with John and Jayme  from  the Enough Project. As an organization, they fight to end genocide and crimes against humanity in the central and southern countries of Africa. We learned that they “get the facts on the ground, use rigorous analysis to determine the most sustainable solutions, influence political leaders to adopt our proposals, and mobilize the American public to demand change”(EPwebsite). It was very interesting to hear about the specific conflict minerals in the Great Lakes region of Africa and also to find out how the Enough Project was able to influence the US legislation to help with the issue.  It was great to talk with them and we were encouraged by the organization’s pursuit of justice for our brothers and sisters in the Congo and surrounding areas.

And then it was time to ride. It was a little difficult to get started as the sun was high and the heat was intense. But we peddled forward and headed into Baltimore, MD to the home of Bryan Dougan (one of last years team members). Once we arrived there were a few hours to get cleaned up and help with the preparations for the evening festivities. That night, folks from the Dougan’s church and community came over for a backyard cookout. It was a great night of fellowship with a presentation just before the rain came down. After the party moved inside there was more discussion about the current issues of the DRC over some yummy desserts. A big thanks to the Dougans for housing us and also to those who came out and supported our Sister in the Congo.  See more pictures HERE

 

 

 

Day 32-34: Washington DC

 

Monday: Our resident early riser, Parks, was the most excited for today as it was ‘Merica’ Day. As we wouldn’t be riding our bikes on the 4th, we decided to show our patriotism a few days early: “Stars and Bars”!  We all wore America tattoos (temporary) and Parks even decked out his bike with colored tinsel and an American flag. We were all suited up for the ride and after breakfast, a devotional and a group picture, we set off towards our nations capital. It was a hot day but a good ride. Near the end of the day we were able to ride on the Mt. Vernon Trail where we were joined by Amanda Hu for the last leg of the trek. It was great to have her along the ride and although we were up for cycling the whole way, we had a commitment in the evening and needed to shuttle a few miles in order to arrive on time.

We were not able to stay at our previously scheduled accommodation due to the power outages in the DC area. But it worked out wonderfully as we were put up in the Hyatt Fairfax. Once we arrive, we had 15 minutes to shower and be on the tour bus. That evening we toured DC with a group of young adults from all over the US associated with Church of God (CoG).  These men and women, called Eagles, were part of the Youth Advocate Training, a leadership program of American Bible Society and CoG  for select high-school and college age students. As a big group we toured around the Capitol and learned about the history of some of the memorials from a Biblical perspective. It was encouraging to see so much Scripture around the city on walls, memorials, statues and buildings. 

Tuesday: In the morning part of our crew went to the Holocaust Memorial Museum while those of us who had been on a prior visit, went on a tour of Ebenezers, a local non-profit coffee shop. At the coffee shop we met with some of the staff who had, in fact, just come back from a missions trip in the Congo. They are part of Voices for Congo, an advocacy group from National Community Church (NCC). It was exciting to talk with them about the vision of Ebenezers and also hear stories from their venture abroad. In the afternoon we met up with the rest of our group as well as the Eagles and went on a tour of the Capitol Building. After our tour we walked around DC and talked with people about She’e My Sister.

That evening our team met up with others from the Voices of Congo group and heard more about their program over dinner. As it was Abbey’s birthday, her parents had flown out to surprise her and we all celebrated together.

Wednesday: In the morning we had the opportunity to speak with the Eagles in a more formal setting about She’s My Sister. Because they are all interested in justice and advocacy, we were excited to tell them more about the initiative and get them on board to advocate in their own states.

After the meeting we headed into Alexandria and met up with some alum Sister Bike Tour riders, Lewie, Marianne and Bryan. We enjoyed talking over food about the tours and, for those who knew them previously, catching up. We had the afternoon to explore the area and then met back in the evening ready for our boat ride. We had all been greatly anticipating this day as we were invited to join the Church of God campers on a boat on the Potomac for dinner and to watch the fireworks. It was such an incredible experience as were floating just in front of the Lincoln Memorial and seeing the fireworks light up the sky. During the evening we had a chance to mingle with some of the supporters of She’s My Sister as well as update the Sister Team on the happenings of the tour. It had been an informative, exciting, and encouraging few days in DC, but we were ready to start riding again.

Lots more pictures HERE and HERE.

 

 

 

Day 30-31: Richmond, VA

Saturday:
Today was another day of rest for me (yesterday I loaned my bike to Caroline). I woke up late after staying up late last night to catch up with Joshua Pucci, who was my camp counselor about six or seven years ago. We had not seen each other since then, and we only kept in touch occasionally through Facebook. Luckily we reconnected before the tour and Josh set us up with an amazingly restful weekend including opportunities to share our mission. After a slow morning we visited downtown Richmond and took the walking bridge to Belle Island. The rest of the team went and swam in the river while I sat on the rocks and read “Cycling Home from Siberia” (a great cycling adventure book). Before we left I met Marvin and Wendy, and shared with them about She’s My Sister before they shared with me that Wendy works with sexually abused women here in the U.S. (I will provide their organization’s name in a future edit if I can find it again). For dinner we had a fantastic grill out with some members of the East End church at Joshua’s home. Yet again it turned into another great opportunity to share the plight of our sisters. 
Sunday:
This morning we attended Josh’s home church, West End Alliance Church. Chris and Sam presented to the congregation, and Gordon and Parks joined the youth Sunday school class. We were warmly welcomed and the congregation responded spectacularly. There was a large barbeque following the service that provided more time for fellowship and conversation. We rested for a short time after the feast and then Josh took half of our team to visit the University of Richmond (the Spiders). The campus was beautiful. Tonight the girls came back from Sharon Belcher’s so that we could leave earlier in the morning. So, with Josh sleeping in his hammock, I will be the first team member to sleep outside on the ground on this year’s tour. – Jon
More pictures HERE.

Day 31: Richmond, VA

The happenings of this day really started the night before when everybody had decided that the 20 miles to Richmond would be a perfect opportunity for me to get a chance at cycling with the team. I am the support team member and therefore not a cyclist. In fact I had never cycled on a road before. This was not my idea and after saying no many times, I gave in( Well I said I would consider it anyway). Since I had never even been on a proper road bike, I thought I should do some “training”. I rode around the gym, which had a strange flooring, on different people’s bikes and practiced shifting gears and maneuvering around sleeping mats(a very important skill on the real roads). Maybe practicing in flip-flops was not the best idea but I still wasn’t convinced that I would ride the next day so I wasn’t taking it too seriously. 15 min went by and then it was time for bed. I would sleep on the idea and make the final decision the next day.

Morning came and I was quite nervous but very excited to try and ride, try being the operative word! The team was excited too as I prepped ready for the ride. Jon so graciously lent me his bike and helmet for the day and before I knew it, it was time to go.

Riding at first was okay as I was surrounded by my teammates who were gently instructing me and showing me the ways of a cyclist. A few miles had gone by and my heart was racing, but I felt great. That was until we got to about the 4th hill. I wasn’t able to downshift at the bottom of the hills as I didn’t have any gloves and my hands were too sweaty( the bike has grip shifters). This made it incredibly hard to get up the hill and I only made it up part of the way before I had to stop. I would have been ready to stop there and have the van pick me up as that was already the furthest I had ever cycled and I was very worn out after making it up the past few hills on the hardest gear and my muscles were all shaking. But my team wasn’t going to let me quit! After a short prayer by Jessica and borrowed gloves from Gordon, I was ready to keep going. Although it was still tough, we got into a rhythm and miles started to go by. 5. 7. 12. It was going well ish. I tried to look up every now and then at the surrounding town but mostly focused on the road and not letting my feet slip off the pedals (if only I had clips). I got used to all the sayings and pointing things out on the roads, “gravel”, “hole”, “bumps”, especially since these were apparently some of the worst roads on the trip to date.

Many times throughout the ride I felt like I couldn’t keep going. I just wanted to stop and would be just fine with that, but then I considered why we ride. It then became about my sisters and I would see their faces with each peddle stroke. I prayed a lot on this ride and there were hills that I conquered that I felt as though I was being pushed forward: I believe it was angels.

One of the last hills was the worst as it just kept going up and up. How we found all the hills in Richmond i’m not really sure but that was one tough ride for a non cyclist. As we arrive I was so excited that I had completed the ride, I finished strong and it wouldn’t have happened without the kind words from my team and the strength from the Lord. I think, however, that I will stick to driving for the rest of the tour.

That evening we were welcomed by Josh and had a great night of delicious food and relaxation. – Caroline

More Pictures HERE.

 

 

 

 

 

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