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Finding Hope In A Strange Place

Updated on September 10, 2014

While I embrace portions of today's electronic age, I also despise portions of it as well. I am not an "active" Facebooker, nor do I twitter or any of those other things that today's society seems to be driven to do. I feel old fashioned in my approach to these things, as I prefer a phone call to endless texts, and I surely do not want to tweet "OMG! I am getting my haircut!" to thousands of followers. It just make no sense.

But earlier this summer, my eldest daughter shared a Facebook page with my wife and I on our Facebook site. We have few friends there; less than most I would assume. But it is with reason: we only desire to share and maintain contact with those we care about and are interested in. We do not want to follow any celebrities, nor friends of friends of friends until we have thousands of people we are following and are in turn being followed by: we prefer our anonymity and our privacy.

To that end I have had many concerns for the youth of today as they feel driven (addicted?) to sharing things about themselves they should not. The younger generations are lacking in social skills such as face to face speaking, speaking in front of gatherings, and generally being able to feel something such as compassion as they are frequently looking into a small screen rather than the eyes of a person and have been known to say hurtful things much more easily in that manner. As I said, I have had great concern for these young people.

The beginning of the Mississippi River
The beginning of the Mississippi River | Source

But I found a young man who, while it is a Facebook meet, gives me hope that there are far more like him out there in this arena than I had previously thought. He is a Godly man, one who heeds HIs call to share his life and experiences with others. He found his way into my home and I have read his posts daily since that share by my daughter. And I am saddened because his current journey has come to a close.

I do not even know his first name, only his last: Welborn. He is a young man who has chosen, and succeeded, in a great challenge. To canoe, alone, down the length of the mightiest river on the continent, the Mississippi. Beginning in Minnesota just a few miles from the Canadian border all the way down to the Gulf of Mexico. Well over 2,000 miles, all of it alone.

His daily posts have become required reading for me, beginning each day with his latest words of who he met, how he was treated, what occurred along the river and many other incidents of his life on the river. And in his words I found Hope.

If I understand him accurately, he set out with help from his family and a determination to do something incredible. He created daily posts and words of his life to his Facebook page and along the way came to know a great many people. People who are normal, everyday individuals who discovered him and his journey and gave words of inspiration; who offered shelter and food; who became friends, real friends to last a lifetime in this world of electronic instantcy.

He gave and received Hope, as did those who traveled with him, through him; who met and knew him on this amazing journey.

Along the way, many others like myself have hoped in messages to this young man that he somehow find a way to turn his journey into a book, one aimed at those who love the outdoors, and those who need a bit of inspiration. I have hopes that one here on this site might take an interest in this and help him with his words. You know of whom I am speaking of, Sir William! You are the best purveyor of words I know of and I think this could be a wonderful project for a man such as yourself.

The Man Himself
The Man Himself | Source
This speaks volumes about both the man and Life.
This speaks volumes about both the man and Life. | Source
A view on any given day
A view on any given day | Source
One of the many beautiful sunsets witnessed and shared with his followers
One of the many beautiful sunsets witnessed and shared with his followers | Source
One of the sights seen
One of the sights seen | Source

Along the over 2,000 miles, the 2,800 hours on the river, the 118 days of his journey Wellborn has met literally hundreds, if not thousands of well wishers. People who opened their homes to him, showing a deep Christian faith by accepting one who they barely know. They have bought him food, given him shelter, provided supplies to him in his time of need.

He has endured floods, alligators, mosquitoes and river boat and barges the size of small buildings. He has seen the mighty Mississippi as a trickle, one barely sufficient to float his small craft, and he has seen it as it flows into the ocean, there to lose itself in the larger waters.

He never has a bad day: one can always count on his wonderful outlook on life in his beginning words to each daily post: Today was good! How wonderful it is to begin each day reading this young man's enlightening words of hope and joy in the face of such a difficult journey! I for one will miss his words tomorrow and each day after. To read on what he experienced the previous day's miles along the river; to see who he met and what incredible things he saw and experienced.

Through rain and heat, through sand and mud, through loneliness and crowds, through pain and happiness his outlook never wavers. It is a joy to discover one who fully embodies the teachings of our Lord, one who never met a stranger, who does not despair at a hardship, who has such a positive outlook in the face of hardship.

And to think that without this miracle of technology, this single Facebook page, I would not have had the blessing of being introduced to him. And of introducing him to you, my readers.

So I urge you to look him up on Facebook at the address supplied and share with all of your friends. His is a journey of a lifetime, one I wish I could have undertaken in my youth. But as it is, I was blessed to travel with him for days on end, vicariously through his words and insight. It was a wonderful journey indeed!

The end of the river
The end of the river | Source

His is a story worth knowing, and of learning from. Learning to take chances, of trusting the Lord to provide for you, of accepting others and receiving blessings in return for your acceptance. Of Hope. Joy. Adventure.

The people he has met along the river are blessings to him in many ways. Providing information, shelter, food and spending time with him as they show him the sights where they live. In cities and towns along the way he has met a wide variety of the population and it has been a blessing to me to come to know there are so many caring people in this country. I had serious concerns in the past of people who care only for themselves, who are not prone to share themselves or time and money with others. His journey has touched so many both literally and in print, sharing that knowledge that others do care, will help, and are accepting of those outside their little world.

On one post, a person asked him "How in the world do you know so many people along the way?" to which he replied "It's a God thing!".

How simple. How appropriate. Trust in God and He shall provide all that we need. It should be so simple but we make it so very difficult. Thank you Mr. Welborn for reinstalling faith and hope in humanity through your words and journey. We may never meet face to face but we have met in some manner and I for one am richer for the meeting.

Have you followed along on Welborn's Mississippi Solo?

See results

I strongly request that you to take the time and review his Facebook page, reading of his journey and the messages he has received from the general populous. It will inspire you as it has me to believe again, to have faith in others again, and to see that hope is alive and well; it has just been waiting for us to find it once more.


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    • Mr Archer profile imageAUTHOR

      Mr Archer 

      4 years ago from Missouri

      Cheyenne and Bill, thank you. I contacted this young man to ask permission to use some of his many pictures to which he gladly said yes. I finished my hub and sent it to him to read over. He enjoyed it and asked my permission to print it out to keep with his keepsakes from the trip! I am honored to have him include this little article, but even more honored to share this incredible young man with you.

      Now Bill, help him make a best selling book out of his journey!!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      What a wonderful story. Thank you for sharing this, Mike. I love hearing things like this. It renews my faith in humanity, and I think we all need that.

      Blessings to you, buddy. I hope you are well.


    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 

      4 years ago from Central Florida

      Mike, this is a wonderful story of a real life experience. Once upon a time ago a young boy by the name of Sam Clemens made a similar journey. He later came to be known as Mark Twain (in fact I have it on my to-do list to write a hub about him). He adopted the name because the river was the mark 'twain (between) his life as a child and the wonder he found when he traveled the river.

      I will gladly follow this man's journey. To undertake such a monumental task in a canoe is remarkable. To see that the people he's met along the way have not only welcomed him, but housed and supported him is hopeful and spiritual. Thank you for shedding a positive light on the doom and gloom that is intent on shadowing our lives.


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