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2021 Hiker Group, edited

This Season’s Guests at SOLA

by Rev. Doug Douma
SOLAAppalachian Christian Retreat, Unionville, NY
the Missions Banner, October 2021

We’ve had a lot of guests this season at Sola.  In fact, we’ve had more guests this season than in all previous years combined.  Overnight guests this season have totaled 44, 74, 27, and 15 in the months of May, June, July, and August, respectively.

This summer has also seen the return of some of the same hikers we’ve met before.  This is a great blessing to us as we can check up on their spiritual progress and they can reconnect with us and with the church here in Unionville.  One guest, hiking North earlier in the season, intends to visit us again on his return “Yo-Yo” hike South, completing the Appalachian trail twice in one year.

The hiking community is becoming a “small world” to us where we share mutual friends with many of our guests.  Hikers are contacting us saying “I’ve heard good things about your place.”  We’re glad to be building a good reputation in the hiking community.

Two of my favorite trailnames from those who have visited us this year are “Frosty the Slowman” (who was actually quite a fast hiker) and “Not Weird” (a stand-up comedian with a trailname to suit).

Recently we’ve also welcomed a couple guests of the canine variety.  Though it has been our policy not to allow dogs, we made exception twice recently for service dogs, well-trained animals helping individuals in need.

We’ve seen some guests (both hikers and locals) visit our church this year, and are extremely pleased to have welcomed one local family of 6 as new members to the church.  The church is active, and we’re glad to have just brought back first-Sunday meals after the worship service for members, visitors, and hungry hikers alike.

But of greatest note is the one who arrived in July and is staying with us, God willing, well, for something like 18 or more years! – our son Birch Renze Douma, born July 16th.  Baby Birch has added a new dynamic to the household as Priscilla and I strive to give sufficient attention to all our responsibilities – including Birch and Maple, the church, the mission to hikers, and household management.  Pray for our work!

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