Thursday, October 19, 2017

Book Review - The Mission Walker

The Mission Walker by Edie Littlefield Sundby

Edie Sundby was diagnosed with cancer - words that will chill anyone to the bone.  Through the grace of God and modern medicine, she beat it into submission.  Along the way she made the decision that as long as she was moving, she would not be sick.  And so she would matter what....  and thus began her journey.

Edie was interested in the history behind the mission bells of California and decided to undertake the task of walking the upper eight hundred miles of the historic California Mission Trail from the California border to Sonoma.  A walk like this is no mere undertaking and it's daunting even for a person in excellent physical condition.  By the 5th day of her journey she had only walked 25 miles and managed to sprain her ankle.  With lungs drained and feet swelling she forced herself to continue, all the while repeating to herself "If I can move, I'm not sick."

Joined by family and friends for various stages of her journey.  They traveled over mountains, through valleys and she braved the terror of walking along San Marcos Pass as rocks tumbled and cars whizzed past.  Along the way she learned to slow down and appreciate the beauty of God all around her - flowers, the sun, birds chirping, and the wind.  She cried tears of sorrow for family who had passed, friends suffering from cancer begging to live, and everyone she knew who begged God for strength and courage.  And yes, she cried a few tears for herself as well.

It took her 55 days to walk the 796 miles of the mission trail - it was a walk of faith and a walk away from cancer.  But less than 2 years after completing her journey, the cancer returned.

Rather than throwing in the towel, Edie did the unthinkable - she finished her next round of cancer treatments and turned her thoughts to walking the lower section of the trail - this one stretching 800 miles from southern Baja California to the California border. 

This time she had a time constraint of 2 months and had to return home before her next scan was scheduled and she wouldn't have the company of family and friends.  For this part of her journey she would have to depend on vaqueros to lead her, as this section of the trail is so remote and overgrown that at times the vaqueros had to hack their way through using machete's.

The lower section of the mission trail is brutal - with terrain ranging from endless miles of deep sand, to overgrown vines and prickly thorns, mountains, extreme heat, bitter cold, and lack of water.  Traveling by foot, horses, mules, and donkeys, they encountered barbed wire, days of being lost, and drug cartels,  They existed on meals of beans and tortillas or freeze dried eggs and depended on the kindness of strangers.  But she did it, and returned home with a mere 3 days to spare. 

This is a book about faith and strength.  It's about believing in yourself and pushing yourself further than you can imagine.  It's about walking that one more step when you don't think you have one more step left in you.  I marveled at Edie's inner strength and more than once I paused to wonder if I would do it, if I could do it.  I don't know if I could, do you?

If you want to be inspired, read this book.

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(I was given an advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions are my own.  Photo images are the property of the publisher and cannot be reproduced without consent.) 

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