Category Archives: SEA TRI KAN

From Conflict in the Congo to Cycling the Cascades

will-4A year after arriving to the U.S., William found himself riding a bicycle up the steep roads of Mt. Rainier.  It was the beginning of a 400 mile journey he was taking to help other refugees like himself.  Years before, William and his younger sister and their aunt fled ethnic conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo.  They had fled to Uganda, but living as refugees was not a permanent solution for the small family. In Uganda, William studied English and looked for the little work that was available; the family waited.  They were waiting for a chance to move to Seattle and a new start.

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William riding along the 400 mile journey to Spokane – Photo Credit: Nathan Hadley

When William, his aunt, and sister arrived to Washington, they stayed with a local family in a Host Home before their own apartment was set up.  Later he was introduced to Sam, a student at Seattle Pacific University (SPU), who met with him each week to practice English and share their culture and lives with each other.  That wouldn’t be William’s last connection to SPU.  After improving his English in classes at World Relief, William got his first job in the U.S. and rode a donated bicycle rode to and from work every day like a true Seattleite.
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William’s bike-riding skill got him an invitation to join the second annual SEA-TRI-KAN: Ride for Refugee Employment bike team.  SEA-TRI-KAN riders travel from the World Relief Seattle office to our office in Tri-Cities before finishing the journey at World Relief Spokane.  Riders raise support and awareness for refugee employment in Washington State.

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A selfie moment with an SPU teammate – Photo Credit: Avery Parducci

Several of William’s teammates on the ride were from SPU’s cycling club.  They championed the cause of refugees on their college campus leading up to the ride.  Many of their classmates have been matched as Cultural Companions with families like William’s.  Toward the beginning of the ride, another rider noticed William struggling to navigate the gears on a newly borrowed bike.  Once that issue was fixed, William quickly shot to the front of the group.  William’s contagious smile and optimistic demeanor helped motivate the team all along their tough but rewarding ride. 

William,
Thanks for being an inspiration to all of us and helping to give other refugees the best opportunity to find their first job in America.

World Relief invites you to ride with refugees in 2017.  To learn more about SEA-TRI-KAN and how to ride or support a cyclist, please visit www.worldreliefseattle.org/stk

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SEA-TRI-KAN -Day 5

This week, we will be bringing stories from our SEA-TRI-KAN bike riders who cycled across the state to raise awareness and support for World Relief’s refugee employment program.  They rode from our office in Kent to our office in Tri-Cities, then finished at our office in Spokane.

Author Bill Roberson, recreational cyclist

On day 1 we left our homes with our first destination in mind: a Boy Scout Camp in the Cascades Mountains. After a lunch and celebration in the sun, our spirits were high! After a few challenging hills, some traffic situations, and our first rest stop, the rain began. We continued to climb to the camp and it got colder and wetter as we rode. Most riders were not prepared for the conditions and arrived at camp soaked and chilled to the bone. We hit the community showers, hung our soggy clothes up to dry, and spent the night in bunk beds.

I had the thought that this is analogous to refugees who leave their homes and flee to a refugee camp. There is relief from a bad situation, but the journey is harrowing and the camp can also be crowded and sometimes dangerous. I thought of those who spend not one night, but decades in such a camp.

On Day 2 we started in cool weather, heading up to the top of Chinook Pass. It was a challenging ride, with temperatures dropping to near freezing with heavy fog and light snow on the top. Not everyone made it on their own power. But shortly over the pass began our long, downhill ride. The sun came out and soon our clothes dried. A lot of smiles. One of the support vans broke down, which created a lot of challenges for the team.

Day 3 started out as a lovely sunny day with all the cyclists together. Unfortunately, my riding partner, a very experienced cyclist who was well-prepared for the ride hit a root and crashed. Since we were in a tight group it was a miracle that no one else went down. While he took an ambulance to the hospital, the rest continued on, but with much greater caution. After seeing him safely to the hospital I rejoined the ride and joined a different group of riders. When discouraged they would begin to name all of the things they were thankful for. How cool?! I learned a lot. Spent the night in a hotel! Lovely! A surprise massage! How wonderful!

When refugees make their way to a new country for resettlement it can be a challenging journey. They cannot make it on their own. Upon arrival, life seems much better, but unforeseen challenges will always come up. When disaster strikes, it takes the help of others to get them back on track. And small acts of kindness go a long way!

Day 4 was our longest day at 113 miles. Back-to-back long days are a challenge for anyone! Some of the cyclists showed real grit to knock off the miles. Everyone needed encouragement to get through. There were flat tires and mechanical issues, but everything was handled well with the support of Steve (bike mechanic extraordinaire!). The forecasted strong winds appeared, but for the most part, they were tailwinds! Hallelujah!

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Grateful for some tailwinds, Bill cruises through the green hills of the Palouse.

With only 79 miles left, Day 5 felt like an “easy” day. The group was now hardened to challenges. With the goal in sight, thunderstorms with lightning rolled in and some of the group even had to seek shelter from hail! For safety reasons, we loaded up into the vehicles and drove the last couple of miles to finish our journey at World Relief Spokane.

Refugees are a very resilient people. They face challenges with determination that comes from experience. Even with the “end” in sight, it’s never easy. Assistance to meet education goals, get better jobs, find better homes, and make a better life for their children is like a “tailwind” of support from agencies and volunteers. As they work through things on their own, they are not doing it alone. 

Overall, I was happy to do SEA-TRI-KAN. The funds raised will be put to good use by World Relief to support employment opportunities for refugees facing enormous challenges. Separating from my dear friend and riding partner early in the journey was disappointing, but it encouraged me to get to know the other riders much better. Our short journey was a major challenge for all of the riders. The tenacity and perseverance show by so many to overcome significant obstacles was truly inspiring.

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A road-weary team celebrates 400 miles in 5 days upon their arrival at World Relief Spokane!

SEA-TRI-KAN -Day 4

This week, we will be bringing stories from our SEA-TRI-KAN bike riders who cycled across the state to raise awareness and support for World Relief’s refugee employment program.  They rode from our office in Kent to our office in Tri-Cities, then finished at our office in Spokane.

Author Garrett Berkey, an SPU student

Day 4: 109.8 miles, Tri-Cities to Endicott. Although we started together, it took some convincing to ride at the same pace today. We were like a community riding together–everyone had someone to ride with and we knew who to go to for each stretch of the way. There were the moral boosters, the pace-setters, the conversationalists, and the others in-between. We each found our individual pace and pushed on.

It was a long day, and it was punctuated by another long journey: the story of a woman who had come to Seattle as a refugee from Afghanistan. At each stop today we read through a part of her story and thought about it on the long, straight road. I spent a lot of today thinking about the things we see and read on the news. They are real. The terror that I hear about in the Middle East is something that people fear each day. This is the first time I heard a story like this about a real person and told on a personal level. It made the stories of all the people I had heard about on the news seem to jump out at me. I am so blessed to be in this safe place. I want to be able to help those who live in fear to instead thrive in this world.

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109 miles through the Palouse is easier with the encouragement of a supportive team.

While riding today, I pushed myself in many ways. Climbing the mountains and pushing the clock, I knew that I could only hold pace for so long. I only had so much in me. Maybe this is like a refugee running for her life? Tiring and seemingly never-ending? But then coasting into the flat lands, I reflected on how the support and encouragement of our little community helped me to push through. Maybe a refugee in America can move through challenges faster with a community to help them out.

Raising money for this program–and being that community of support for someone–is something that I am so glad to be doing.

Garrett was proud to wear the World Relief colors on the ride and hopes that others will be compelled to come alongside refugees fleeing a life of fear and hardship. 

SEA-TRI-KAN -Day 3

This week, we will be bringing stories from our SEA-TRI-KAN bike riders who cycled across the state to raise awareness and support for World Relief’s refugee employment program.  They rode from our office in Kent to our office in Tri-Cities, then finished at our office in Spokane.

Author Ann Janda, a World Relief enthusiast and passionate caregiver.

“Give and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you” Luke 6:38

Day 3 of STK should have been easy.  After going over Chinook Pass on day two, I was mentally prepared for smooth sailing, even though it going to be 100 miles. What could be harder than Chinook Pass?

Our morning began beautifully: the sun was shining and breakfast was FANTASTIC. It felt wonderful to leave in the morning as part of the pack instead of trailing behind like I had for the last 2 days.

Ten miles in, I wondered when the seasoned cyclists were going to pull away from the beginners–our unity couldn’t go on forever. Within 5 minutes of this thought, it happened. As we passed under some lovely trees, one of our number hit a root the wrong way and tumbled to the ground. Man down! While the others swerved to miss the fallen biker, my first thought was “This is what I do!”. I have been a caregiver for several years and I know what to do when people are hurt.

As I ran over my heart skipped a beat–it was John. I had only just met him at breakfast! We prayed and helped to clean him up (his face was pretty beat up!) and I waited with him for the ambulance to meet us.

I didn’t feel like what I did was extraordinary. But just before he left to accompany John, Bill gave me a hug and expressed how touched he was by the way I had mothered John for those few minutes on the side of the road.

We continued on cautiously, but there was more to come. After lunch I began to experience excruciating knee pain. I knew things were getting bad when I went up one hill and Calilee had to physically push me just to make it to the top! I prayed over the idea of spending the rest of the day in the van–I can’t put into words how important it was for me to ride every mile–but I also knew that finishing would not be worth permanent knee injury. I took it slow.

When Bill rejoined the group, even though he was much faster that Calilee and I, he eloquently told us that he would rather bring up the rear with us than join the frontrunners. My knee pain that afternoon was continual and excruciating. We took our miles one by one. Bill stuck with us all day–helping us find restrooms in the middle of nowhere, giving us invaluable tips and cycling techniques, and even protecting us from dogs!

Calilee, Bill, and I finished Day 3! Praise the Lord! We ended our day at Old Country Buffet and had chair massages back at the hotel. I will forever be grateful to God for the dear friends I met through STK. Each day I learned major lessons and today the lesson was this: Give what you have. What may seem like very little to you may be just what someone else needs.

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Ann (middle) celebrates her accomplishment with her new friends Bill and Calilee

SEA-TRI-KAN -Day 2

This week, we will be bringing stories from our Sea-Tri-Kan bike riders who cycled across the state to raise awareness and support for World Relief’s refugee employment program.  They rode from our office in Kent to our office in Tri-Cities, then finished at our office in Spokane.

Author Calilee Moore, a World Relief AmeriCorps English instructor

Day 1 set us up to expect a difficult, soggy ride–and that’s how we started Day 2 this morning! With 3,150 feet of elevation gain, today was an adventurous ride with many rewards. Looking back we kept saying that nothing could be worse than the last mile…or yesterday. My friends and I steadily held down last place all day, but we kept peddling and it was epic.

We passed mountains and rivers and snow–lots of snow! I just kept my head down, pushed my feet, and eventually made it to the cold, cloudy top.

Calilee (left), Liz, and Ann take a break just before the Chinook Pass summit

Calilee (left), Liz, and Ann take a break just before the Chinook Pass summit

I have probably lost about ten things since we started the day–one of them being my headphones. I was very sad about this until I fell in with the last-place friends. We held cadence and sang Hakuna Matata and songs of praise together. My favorite part of the day was when we each started sharing about how the Lord is good and what we were thankful for. I am already so encouraged by the friendships I have made.

After reaching the top, it was smooth sailing. Literally! I probably could have put on Ann’s poncho and sailed off the road with how fast we got to go down the hill. As it warmed up, we began to feel our toes again and quickened our pace. Nothing was as hard as Chinook Pass.

The Lord has blessed me in so many ways: living in a beautiful state, working with amazing people at World Relief, a bicycle & all the gear I needed, just enough muscle-power to get up that horrible and amazing hill…and of course the friends that I’m sharing my ride with. The Lord is good.

Calilee and the almost 2 dozen other cyclists are enduring a great physical challenge and spectacle of support on behalf of the refugees of Washington State. Their experience is reminiscent of the treacherous journey that many face–except not to say that they did it, not to exercise discipline or determination, not even to help people in their community, but to save their own lives and the lives of their children. 

SEA-TRI-KAN – Day 1

This week, we will be bringing stories from our Sea-Tri-Kan bike riders who are cycling across the state to raise awareness and support for World Relief’s refugee employment program.  They will be riding from our office in Kent to our office in Tri-Cities, then finishing at our office in Spokane.  To learn more about the program and World Relief’s life changing work please visit worldreliefseattle.org/stk

 

Author Gerrit Hoeks of Calvary Chapel South

We’ve just completed the first leg of our five-day, 400-mile cycling journey across the state of Washington. 23 soaking wet riders have rolled into Camp Sheppard for the evening, just outside of Mount Rainer National Park.

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Gerrit wringing out his socks.

When we began our trip at the World Relief Seattle offices in Kent, WA the weather was teasing us. The sun was shining and it looked like it would be a beautiful ride.  Within the first ten miles we began to feel raindrops, then the sun said goodbye, then it down poured, then we had puddles in our shoes.

My wife and I are not really cyclists. Three months ago we didn’t even own bikes.  But we were looking for an adventure and we got excited about the idea of doing something with meaning.  It has been quite the adventure already; from the training, to the fundraising, to the numb toes.

It’s been awesome getting to know new people who are rallying around a cause and learning more about refugees and how World Relief comes along side them to help with some of their biggest challenges.

We’re looking forward to Day 2 – The BIG Climb… and we’re praying for sunny days ahead

SEA-TRI-KAN: Day 5

The following is a reflection from a participant in SEA-TRI-KAN, a cross-state bike tour that raised support for newly arrived families as they look for employment and begin a new life. NOTE: pardon the delay in posting the final day of blogging from the ride–the author took his sweet time catching up on sleep and restiing his sore legs!

Day 5, June 21, 2015

Endicott to Spokane: 74 miles, 2,850 feet elevation gain

Ride total: Seattle to Tri-Cities to Spokane—over 400 miles & 12,000 feet elevation gain!

by Luke Williams

The last day of SEA-TRI-KAN was Father’s Day. Naturally, I spent a lot of the day thinking about fathers—both my own dad and refugee fathers seeking a safer future for their children. For me, it was a particularly memorable Father’s Day for another reason: I am soon to be a dad myself!

The STK dads (and one dad-to-be) pose on Father's Day morning.

The STK dads (and one dad-to-be) pose on Father’s Day morning.

The day before Father’s Day (June 20th), was World Refugee Day. One way we marked that day was to have each rider think about an individual refugee throughout the day as a way to reflect on the experience of refugees arriving to our community, and to stand in solidarity with them in one small, but hopefully meaningful way. Riding a bicycle all day long allows a lot of time for thinking. And thinking about one person, rather than trying to wrap one’s mind around the plight of 20 million refugees worldwide, was a way to remember and connect to the cause in a more accessible way.

The person I thought about while riding 100+ miles on day 4 is a friend of mine from Bhutan who arrived to the Seattle area as a refugee in 2009. He is also a father of three. On World Refugee Day, I thought about some of the positive developments in his family (buying a home, getting a steady job) as well as some of the challenges (difficult work and childcare schedules, the busy-ness of life in America). It was good to reflect on and pray for my friend and his family.

On Father’s Day/day 5 of the ride, I found myself continuing to think about my friend whose two oldest children were born in a refugee camp in Nepal. As I look forward to becoming a father myself, I can’t imagine being in his shoes. To watch your children shiver in the cold wind blowing through the cracks of a refugee camp hut built from bamboo and tarps, or to not have adequate medical facilities available for your sick child must be excruciating for a father. It is a wonder that so many refugee families survive such harrowing experiences. I have been blessed to meet and learn from the wisdom and courage of many fathers and mothers who have brought their families through such hardships.

Luke and his dad, Gene, enjoying the little-traveled side roads south of Spokane.

Luke and his dad, Gene, enjoying the little-traveled side roads south of Spokane.

I was also thinking about my own dad on Father’s day because he was able to join us on the final day of the ride from Endicott to Spokane. It was a really fun day as we got to ride together through the beautiful rolling wheat fields and scattered pines and lakes of Eastern Washington. I realize that much of what led to my involvement with SEA-TRI-KAN in the first place is a legacy from my dad: love of travel and cultures was instilled at the dinner table and on family vacations; generosity was a value modeled by my parents as well. Thank you, Dad for coming along on the ride and for being the kind of dad who raises a son who thinks biking 400 miles to raise money and awareness for refugees is a fantastic way to spend 5 days. I hope I can pass along some of the same legacy to my children, and I hope to be in good enough shape at that point to ride alongside them, too!

SEA-TRI-KAN: Day 4

Day 4, June 20, 2015:

Tri-Cities to Endicott: 100 miles to commemorate World Refugee Day.

“Well, it’s a two person bike, so you must go twice as fast, right?”

Secretly, I hate it when people ask us this. Outwardly, in the interest of seeming nice, I smile and nod and then try to change the subject.

My wife Caitlin and I are riding Sea-Tri-Kan on a tandem bicycle. While it is true that some tandem teams can go noticeably faster than those riding solo, this is not true in our case. Our contraption is heavy, unwieldy, and cheaply made — a low-quality budget bike bought on sale from a big box store.

Even after upgrading every component conceivable, it handles poorly, delivers bumps in the road to its riders with bone-jarring efficiency, and climbs like a broken-down freight train. As my sister Shawna puts it, “it’s like an oil rig masquerading as bicycle.” Our tandem is much better suited for 4-mile trips to the grocery store – not 400-mile tours. It’s why we’ve recently given it a well-deserved nickname: the Struggle Bus.

Four days into Sea-Tri-Kan, struggle has emerged as an overarching theme for us. On day one, an ill-conceived last-minute saddle swap left me blistered and sore. To make matters worse, my muscles are strained from trying to pedal while dancing around a sore butt. Add to this a blowout that rendered one of our tires unrideable. Worst of all, we must deal with all this as we tackle hill after hill – the Achilles’ tendon of the Struggle Bus. As we inch painfully up these soul-crushing climbs, I think: “why on earth are we doing this?”

And then comes the answer. Today (June 20) is World Refugee Day – the day we commemorate those who are threatened because of their race, ethnicity, or beliefs, and must flee their home countries because it’s not safe to stay. My soreness and fatigue is nothing compared to what so many others have gone through. I can move freely around my state, and return to a safe home. I may get funny looks when walking into a convenience store in cycling stretchy-pants, but even if I look a little different, I’m not in danger here.

In this light, riding the Struggle Bus with Caitlin and raising money to help refugees find jobs is a privilege, not a chore. I wear my soreness like a badge of honor, and I struggle happily, knowing that I am doing my own small part to help those whose struggles are much more real than my own.