The Power of Encouragement

Its been more than a week of cycling. There have been groups of people greeting us as we rode along. At times whole communities came out to show their support and encourage the cyclists in their endeavours.
When the support and encouragement is personalized it bumps things up to a higher level. As the tour entered Ontario I was getting into familiar territory. The first encounter of personalized support occurred in the Sarnia community. Meeting professional colleagues and former room mates wasthe first taste of this.
As I entered London my two daughters had gone all out to show their support for the cyclists and for myself. They had helped mark the route through London and helped organize refreshments. In addition to that they had written personal nots with sidewalk chalk to encourage their dad.
The day we rode from Ajax to Trenton bumped up the personal support to a higher level. The stop at Hope Fellowship in Courtice gave me an opportunity to hear words of encouragement from the large community where I have worked as vice principal and principal for the past 23 years.
Arriving 2 hous later at Grace Church in Cobourg brought cheers of support from my worshipping community and friend. Wow, what a boost.
This is also the community in which on friend had bumped up my commitment to ride 10 percent of the tour on unicycle by challenging me to do one day as a 50 km ride. I decide that the day I would ride through Cobourg would be the day I would attempt the 50 km unicycle challenge.
I left Grace Church at about 12:30. The weather was great, the next stretch of road was relatively level. So I set off. My youngest daughter agreed to ride with me. Great company and reliable support.
All went fine the first little while. No UPD’s, no major hills. But then at the 10 km mark a spoke broke. Since I did not have a spare spoke I had no choice but to take out my spare unicycle. The step down from a 36″ wheel to a 26″ wheel. It’s kinf like putting the “donut” on your car to get you to the nearest gas station when you blow at tire.
A smaller unicycle meant working much harder. Instead of covering 10 feet with eacg stroke of the pedal I was only able to cover about 6 feet. That means my top speed had dropped from 18 km / hr down to about 11 km / hr.
I arrived in Brighten after a volunteer had come looking for me. He reported back to the Brighton church. When I rolled in there still a handful of volunteers to greet me. They had put some refreshments aside. One of the volunteers, Doug was so thrilled at me arrival that he didn’t want to go home. After a big hug from him he figured out that a cycle shop in Bloomfield would be able to repair the 36″ unicycle. Since it was close to closing time Doug and my wife Jane made a dash for it.
Meanwhile I was contemplating whether to continue. What to do. Since I had about 35 km behind me I decided to push on. After a brief discussion about the condition of the route, my daughter and I pushed on.
At this point the pedalling wasn’t going any easier or faster. The rest stops were becoming more frequent, that did create opportunities to talk to people about the purpose of the tour and the reason for unicycling. (Read the purpose in a earlier blog) On one such rest stop in Colborne a fellow Christian made a $20 donation to the cause.
When we were about 8 km from our destination we found out that the bike shop in Bloomfield had managed to patch the broken spoke. After asking if they could bring us the unicycle Doug figured he knew where to find us. (Cell phone tech is sure great) In short order Doug and my wife Jane arrive.
With the larger wheel under me again we were able to pick up the pace. At 7:30 we rolled into the Trenton Christian School.
The kitchen crew had kindly set aside a plate of supper for us.
In reflecting on this experience it makes me realize that there are many people who do not experience the support of a community. Many who are caught in a cycle of poverty are working doubly hard with no end in sight. At some point all hope fades.
In our small group discussion we briefly touched on the quote, “The poor you will always have with you.” We can take that quote in a number of ways. One response that one member in the group received was, “Why do anything since the poor will always be with us.” Our small group agreed that our response needs to be just the opposite. Our challenge is to change our lifestyle so that continually considering the needs of the poor becomes the first step in how we live.
For each person that we can help, we have ended the cycle of poverty for that one person.
Thanks for the support, the encouragement and the prayers.


Author: Jasper Hoogendam

After 36 years as an educator my career ended due to a TBI. Renewable energy as part of 'walking lightly on this earth' has been and continues to be my interest since my teen years. Since early 2015 I have been learning to live with ABI (Acquire Brain Injury). I don't want to let my ABI limit the goals I set for myself. I'm living with a different brain, not a lesser brain. In sharing my day to day successes and struggles, I am better able to understand how my life had changed and begin to accept the change. In sharing my experiences I'm hearing from caregivers and fellow ABI's. I'm encouraged when my experiences are helping others understand some of the complexity of living with ABI.

One thought on “The Power of Encouragement”

  1. Good to hear that you had a great “home” coming. Encouragement IS a powerful gift. May you be blessed with many tenfootstrides, flatland, and ingodspocket cheer.


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