As I started to head back toward Wisconsin on my Eastern Excursion (part one is here), I had one final appointment on my schedule: an interview with Robert Finley, InterVarsity’s first evangelist. Finley was hired right out of college, the University of Virginia, where he had started what was the largest student initiated Christian group of any U.S. college in the early 1940s. He worked for InterVarsity during the week and Youth for Christ on the weekends.
Finley worked closely with Billy Graham, also a Youth for Christ evangelist, as well as Dawson Trotman who started the Navigators, Bill Pierce who started World Vision, and later with Bill Bright who started Campus Crusade. After leaving InterVarsity, he started two significant ministries: International Students Incorporated and Christian Aid, which works with indigenous ministries in countries across the globe.
While in Charlottesville I stayed at Christian Aid’s Guest House, and met evangelists from Ukraine, Nepal, and India. It occurred to me that Christian leaders who had stayed in this building over the decades were used by God to help thousands and probably millions of souls enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
While waiting for my interview with Dr. Finley I made a quick visit to the nearby University of Virginia campus.
The University of Virginia, of course, was founded by Thomas Jefferson.
Facing Jefferson on the campus is the same statue of George Washington I saw at Valley Forge.
The poet Edgar Allan Poe also has a Virginia connection.
The interview with Dr. Finley went well and the next morning I was on my way towards the Blue Ridge Mountains, seen in the background at Beaver Creek Reservoir.
Soon I was driving those mountains, along Skyline Drive, in the Shenandoah National Park.
At the early morning hour there were few cars on the road, and deer were feeding alongside the road.
I stopped to stretch my legs along a wooded trail.
…which eventually emerged onto a rocky mountain top.
Mountains faded off into the distance in every direction.
My first hike along the Appalachian Trail, one small section of it.
Getting out of the car provided close ups of the beautiful mountain flowers.
Which also attracted beautiful butterflies.
When I got to the Mary’s Rock Tunnel I knew I was nearing the end of the beautiful drive. It’s 600 feet through solid granite.
I saw lots of bikers along Skyline Drive, and also a bear. Couldn’t get my camera quick enough to shoot a photo of the bear. But as I drove through Front Royal VA, I saw another bear, in the parking lot, and managed to snap a few photos as he headed for the woods across the street. Sheriff’s deputies and an animal control officer were soon hot on his trail.
Saving best for last, the visit to daughter Sara and her family.
And then off to the bouncy house at Caleb’s birthday party.
Which got more interesting when a water fight broke out.
The bouncy house was ignored for awhile.
And everyone got as wet as they wanted to be.
I passed along my baby computer to Lana and Audrey.
Mommy helped Lana write a story.
Sometimes waiting to have your turn with the computer is no fun.
I was reminded of myself at this age when I used to visit aunt Flossie and play-type on her old Underwood typewriter.
This was the desk where I used to sit. Sara just happens to have it in her basement.
Sunday morning, time for church, and Audrey looks very nice.
Everybody looks very nice!
After church we’re intrigued by a chess set at a Gelato shop in Winchester.
And finally we get the whole family together when Daddy comes home from church.
For a little excitement on a hot Sunday afternoon, we visit the nearby Belle Grove plantation, where a Civil War battle has just been re-enacted.
Alas the visit was over way too soon, and the next morning found me on the road, through the mountains, heading back to Wisconsin.