We will always return to the mountains of Western North Carolina as one of our favorite places. In these mountains we feel God’s peace and presence. We witness His artistry in every new season and are drawn back again and again. If these mountains could talk, I feel like they would tell stories of love and life.
These ancient mountains speak to our souls of the faithfulness of our God through every season of life. Here we began a new career as workampers and we have made many dear friends.
It’s here we found our sweet friends John and Bonnie, who inspire us every single time we are in their presence. We met them last year at Moonshine Creek and have continued to keep in touch. They travel in their vintage camper and beautiful rebuilt antique red Chevy truck.
They share their unconditional love and servants’ hearts and their amazing life stories full of redemption. They make us want to be more transparent, more humble and just better people. Recently, as we ate lunch together at a local spot in Waynesville, John asked our waitress, “we’re about to pray over our food, is there anything we can pray for you?” and she thought only a split second before saying, “my son.” That’s all it took to see her deepest need. He prayed, thankful for our sweet friendship and good food and asking for God’s blessing on this young waitress’ son. John and Bonnie ask good questions and they truly listen and care.
John is recently “retired” from his job as pastor of care and concern of his church near Charlotte, NC but he continues in that capacity in campgrounds, restaurants and everywhere he goes across the country. He is now writing a book recounting all the “God” appointments in his life and there are a LOT. He has walked the streets of Las Vegas sitting beside homeless men listening to them and helping in any way possible…even to the point of fetching a homeless man’s false teeth for him. You’ll have to read his book to hear that story! He relates to the down and out, the forgotten and lost, military vets, alcoholics and the sick as only one who has been in their shoes can. Bonnie is his wife and partner. She loves and serves women at strip clubs and works to help free women trapped in sex trafficking in the Charlotte area. She is looking forward to going to Alaska this month to work at a drug and alcohol recovery program. John and Bonnie are real, sincere, Christ-followers who care for and love others deeply. I can’t wait to read John’s book when it’s published but I know God is still writing their life stories.
We have had some great hikes in the mountains this month at Skinny Dip Falls, Waterrock Knob and Browning Knob. We also spent a long weekend at Tim and Dear’s house in Maryland where we hiked to Cunningham Falls and Catoctin Creek.
Tim and Dear (our son and daughter-in-love) are going to have a baby, our first grandchild, in January. A new season is upon us and we will be back in Maryland soon and often.
We enjoyed beautiful weather in Maryland while visiting them and lots of good food. Dear is a great cook! It’s always nice to see the grandpuppies, Sam and Oakley and we also visited one of our favorite stores, our former employer, Wegmans.
Back in North Carolina, Lake Junaluska is one of our favorite walking trails and we have been there several times this year. We always see flowers blooming and swans, geese and ducks with their babies. We enjoy viewing the familiar cross on the hill and we often hear church bells ringing out old hymns as we walk the 3 mile trail around the lake.
The Buttered Biscuit near Lake Junaluska finally opened up for dining. Of course we had to introduce Rodney and Mary, our new friends and fellow-workampers, to one of our favorite breakfast spots. We also showed them how to get to Jack the Dipper. This is important information!
Now we are looking forward to our next adventure in July. July 15 we will head north to Green Lakes State Park in Fayetteville, New York. After that? Flexibility is key in these days of Covid, quarantines and border closures. Maybe Canada will let us cross the border to celebrate our 35th anniversary in PEI this August. If not, we may end up in Maine for a few weeks. We are taking a little break from workamping and we don’t know where we will land this fall/winter. Wherever we go, we know we will always feel the call back to the North Carolina Mountains at some point. If these mountains could talk, they would say, “Come back home Ballards.”