Conversations Coast to Coast – A Mission

© Jerry F. Couch

A DREAM COME TRUE — For eighteen years, Neil Tomba dreamed of traveling coast-to-coast across the US and having face-to-face conversations with people he met.  This year, that dream came true.  Phase one of the dream began on May 27th in Santa Monica, CA. and concluded on June 28th in Annapolis, MD.  That’s a total of approximately 3,000 miles.  On a bicycle.  Uphill and down.  Rain or shine.  Over 100 miles per day.  On the back roads of America.

Day 1 - May 27 Santa Monica Pier
Day One at the Santa Monica Pier (photo courtesy Neil Tomba)

As Neil, Caroline Kamenai, Wes Currier, and their video crew were crossing Virginia, they stopped at the Clinch Valley Times for a visit.  What followed was one of the most intense conversations I’ve had in a long time.  Neil explained that in today’s world, face-to-face communication is being supplanted by social media.  In the process, many important things are being lost – spirituality in particular.  Neil explains, “We live in a world where everybody’s afraid to talk about real things.”

Neil and his crew at the CVT office in St. Paul – looking surprisingly fresh after laboring up the mountains of Eastern Kentucky and Southwest Virginia.

Neil’s career is electrical engineering, but his vocation is his ministry at Northwest Bible Church in Dallas, TX.  His “Conversations Coast to Coast” mission is an extension of that ministry.  When he encounters others, Neil’s goal is to be “Lovingly curious about people’s stories – without being judgmental.”  He focuses on what unites us instead of what divides us.

One of the most difficult things I do is write about people’s visions – their goals and dreams.  Those things are readily understood in face-to-face conversations, but they flatten when reduced to the written word.  Here’s a link to a YouTube video where Neil explains what he’s doing and why he is doing it.

I am thankful for the opportunity to meet Neil and his friends, and for every mile they put on those badly-worn bicycle tires.  I respect what they were doing and I have thought about them every day since meeting them.  Neil’s visit to St. Paul and the Clinch Valley Times was no coincidence.

Day 33 - Journey's End (or beginning) Anapolis, MD
Annapolis, Maryland on day 33 of “Conversations Coast to Coast.”  The end of a journey?  Or another beginning?  (Photo courtesy of Neil Tomba)

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.