Community, unconditional love, God, biking and family. Somehow, Spoke Folk combines these five things to make the biggest impact imaginable on a person’s life. Specifically, mine. When my mom told me I had to spend two weeks of my summer at age 15 biking and going to church, the thought wasn’t exactly appealing to me. Although my older sister Morgan had done two previous tours by then, I still didn’t know what to expect and I definitely didn’t know how much I needed this trip but soon, I would find out.
To be honest, having a Christ centered life, biking for hours every day, being sleep deprived and singing every night was not at the top of my bucket list at the time. But I was still somewhat excited to go on the Illinois tour in the summer of 2017. Personally, I was excited because I knew it would be an escape from where I was at home. I didn’t know what the next two weeks of my life held, but I knew I would be away from the situations I was currently in and I was happy about that. I never really grew up with God at the center of my life. I was baptized as a baby and I went to church as a kid but I wasn’t old enough to get anything out of it. As I got older, my parents worked more and we stopped going to church because our schedules didn’t exactly match up. It was my freshman year of high school now and I couldn’t remember the last time I went to church or even had a conversation about God. None of my friends were Christian or even religious so the thought of God was never prominent in my life or encouraged. In my friend group, being a religious person was mocked at and I wanted no part in it. I had no idea what I was missing out on until I went on Spoke Folk.
The first couple days of tour were…awkward. I came on the trip with a friend who I somehow convinced to come with me. Weirdly enough, there was only about three people from Florida on this tour and I didn’t even know who they were. The majority of people were from Texas and the others were from Minnesota or Ohio. I wasn’t used to being thrown into a situation where the only people who I could talk to were complete strangers. Spoke Folk people have to be the most welcoming bunch ever created but I still felt out of place. It felt like everyone already knew each other and my friend and I were the odd ones out. I wasn’t exactly against the thought of going home at this time. However, by the time we hit the road, going home was the absolute last thing I wanted to do.
The people on the tour made it so easy to dive right into the Spoke Folk craziness and I am so grateful for that. I remember one thing that was super out of my element was having a “one on one”. I’m typically someone who is very hesitant to open up and I definitely wasn’t about to with someone I met three days ago. When I got asked to have this conversation, I said yes but I quickly found out it was exactly what I really don’t like doing: opening up to people. Looking back, these talks are what made my experience so amazing. Having these conversations during long bike rides and late nights made me realize what I wanted to get out of the tour, what I wanted to achieve when I got back home, how much I love God and how much more I wanted to know him.
The people I tour with all have such a special place in my heart. Every time I go on tour I’m reminded of what a God-loving community looks like and acts like. Sometimes it’s hard keeping up with habits and being a disciple of Christ when everyone you are normally surrounded with people don’t share those values and are negative influences. Keeping in touch with these Spoke Folkers is what makes me who I am today. The day I got home from that first tour was the day I was catapulted into a new life, a better life. I started the trip with a bunch of people who were strangers and left the trip with a new family of 40.
My friends knew where I had spent the last two weeks so they asked me how it was when I got back. I told them I was so extremely happy I went on it and I was really sad to be home because it had been a day and I was already crying because of how much I missed my friends. They were confused because they couldn’t understand how I could become so close with people in a span of 12 days. All I could say was a lot of amazing things happen on Spoke Folk that you wouldn’t expect and it’s an explainable amazing thing.
After going on three tours in a year, I can’t imagine my life without Spoke Folk. It taught me how to have a strong faith when I didn’t even know what faith was. It taught me that giving God control of your life was the key to happiness. It taught me how crucial a community of God-loving people is. I truly believe I’m not the same person I was before I started touring. Being close to God and finding my worth in Him has made me grow in so many ways. On my third tour, I was able to bring a handful of people with me and it’s an indescribable feeling knowing I am sharing the word of God, encouraging people to go through the same experience I did because that really is what Spoke Folk is about. Spoke Folk will be apart of my life forever and I can’t wait to see what else God has in store for me through this ministry.