Chasing Waterfalls

Today I decided to start writing more often and even set an alarm on my phone to remind me to spend some quality time getting my thoughts, ideas and travel adventures down on paper….well, electronic paper anyway. Little did I know then that an adventure was brewing and I would have a fabulous story to tell before the night was through.

Three o’clock in the afternoon Rick announced that we had company.

“Oh, okay,” I hollered from the office as I made my way to the front room, curious as to who would be visiting. I was pretty sure it would be our closest neighbors, since Rick and our visitor had come in from the back yard. Imagine my surprise when I was greeted by a Chinese man, Hui (pronounced Why), who did not speak an ounce of English, well…maybe an ounce. When he like something I said he would say, “Gooda”.

Hui, Rick and I all walked outside so that I could meet his companions, Kammy and Lushan, who were busy picking apples and placing them in the plastic grocery bags Rick and offered to them after they explained their fascination with the beautiful apples hanging from our trees in our back yard.

Kammy spoke very good English and explained how they ended up in our back yard picking the apples from the apple trees that had been planted so many years ago. It almost seemed as if these trees had been specifically planted for these three Chinese visitors. We were happy to share and were delighted in how much they appreciated the ripe fruit that is not available in the province they live in in China.

We learned that Kammy had come to America to attend a conference. Lushan and Hui design and manufacture fireworks, Kammy markets them. After the conference they decided to head west and visit several National Parks before going back to China. They had been in Yellowstone yesterday and were going to head toward Crater Lake, the Redwoods and eventually arrive in San Franscisco before flying back to their homes.

They knew they were in the Scenic Columbia River Gorge, but they weren’t real sure about what that was exactly. They loved the natural beauty they’d been experiencing, so when I asked if they would like to see waterfalls they nodded their heads eagerly.

We started to explain how to get to the waterfalls that were just across the river from us, it was coming out more complicated than I intended, so finally I suggested to Rick that we take them on the tour, they could follow along behind us in their car and we could stop at each waterfall we came across…. they were thrilled, we promised to meet up after they grabbed a sandwich from the Hungry Sasquatch in North Bonneville, while we got ready for our instant adventure.

Within a half an hour we were all together again ready to visit the waterfalls along Oregon’s Historic Highway 30. Hui decided to ride along with us so he could visit with us via the electronic translator. We learned he has a daughter and a son, both of who we video chatted with for a few moments. We talked about his work, our work, Oregon, Washington, China, all through the electronic translator. We pointed out Beacon Rock and told him we could hike to the top of it, he laughed and said he was afraid of heights.

We crossed the Bridge of the Gods, intent on paying for not only our car, but for Kammy and Lushan’s vehicle as well, since we had a coupon that saved a dollar for each vehicle. Hui, would have nothing of that and insisted he pay the toll, we gave in and he was very happy to hand over the $4 for the two cars.

Within 10 minutes we were at Horsetail falls where some very nice people took pictures of our group before we walked back up the trail, crossed the highway and climbed back into our rigs to head toward the next waterfall, and then it was off to Multnomah Falls, the most popular of all the falls in the Columbia River Gorge.

It was fun to watch them enjoying themselves. I snapped pictures of them at each stop along the way, helping them document their trip. Kammy suggested we all get our picture taken with Multnomah Falls in the background, so once again we asked a stranger if he would mind taking our picture. “I’d love to,” he smiled genuinely and took photo after photo. Afterwards as we were visiting he explained he was here from Indiana, and had been at a conference in Portland for the last several days and just needed to get out of the hotel, so he made his way to Multnomah Falls. I jokingly suggested he follow us as we were still exploring and making our way toward Portland and we had met our three new friends just an hour before, so adding him to our group wouldn’t be that awkward at all.

The four men and Kammy decided to walk to the bridge between the upper falls and the lower falls, I stayed behind so I could snap their pictures as they all stood on the bridge above me. By the time they made their way back down to where I was Rick and Mark (our photographer) had had a great conversation and I could tell Rick knew I was going to love what I was about to hear.

About four years ago I learned about Luis Palau. I was having a rather rough time in my life and started watching his sermons on You Tube. I knew he had been invited to speak in Athena, close to my home town in NE Oregon and I wanted to go so badly, but life kept me from making it there. Still I continued watching his sermons. So much of what I learned from him has stuck with me….that doesn’t always happen. But I just love his message of Jesus’ love. I couldn’t wait to read his book he recently released and pre-ordered a copy. I read it from cover to cover in just a few days after it arrived in my mailbox. My respect for this man, who has talked about the love of Jesus in front of 25 million people throughout the world, only grew after reading about his life, his mission and the divine burden God placed on his heart so many years ago.

As it turns out today I shook hands with a man (Mark, our new photographer friend Mark) who works for the Luis Palau organization and he had just gotten a text from Luis’ son telling him that his dad was touched by the message that Mark had talked about at the conference he had been attending….the same hand that has shaken Luis Palau’s hand….I was a bit awestruck by the entire unfolding of this adventure I was on today, it felt so out-of-the-blue, yet so absolutely planned.

Kammy once again joined us and said they really wanted to treat us to dinner as a thank you for taking them on this tour of the waterfalls. She said, ‘the fanciest place you have here, your favorite’….Rick and I looked at each other, smiled and said “Red Robin” simultaneously. We told them they served hamburgers and chicken and it was a truly American experience with their bottomless root beer floats and bottomless french fries.

Dinner was great. We had a very nice waitress named Linda, that was thrilled to have our Chinese friends as her customers. Our food was delicious as always on of course so plentiful. Bottomless french fries filled the table to the amazement of Hui, Kammy and

the dessert, the prayer, the food, the french fries, the conversations, talking politics, fireworks, needing a photographer, how they just kept talking about the apple bringing us together, welcoming us to China, saying it is very safe. Cameras everywhere, hugs. facebook with Kammy. The town they are from supplies 80% of the worlds fireworks. Kammy and I mapping out their travels for the week.

Afterwards in the parking lot with Mark, Ricks conversation with Mark, our prayer before the night ended.

Rick and I are just in awe about what God did today. We are really feeling that He is calling us in a big way.

It was really cool how we all seemed to work together to show Jesus’ love to these 3 visitors, who obviously have so much influence to hundreds of people in their country. Amazing night.

Feels like a very pivotal day.