There are so many people and businesses that need thanking and so many who have helped in big and small ways over the past year and a bit. I'll try and mention some here, but I know I can't get everyone.
First off, thanks and praise to God for His grace and His love for us, and for blessing our trip and using us to help others and glorify Him! "...with God all things are possible." (Matthew 19:26)
Secondly, thanks to our families and close friends who (even though there were some with doubts) encouraged us to do this, asked tough questions to get us thinking about the planning, and supported us all the way through!
Third, thank you to all of our very generous sponsors who purchased our various sponsorships and helped make this trip possible. We had our Title Sponsor; Tim Hortons & Cold Stone Creamery (Mark & Michelle Trombley own the two locations in the Hespeler area of Cambridge). Our Primary Van sponsors - Bookstore316 & Storehouse Accounting; Forward Church & Brighthouse Branding Group (thanks to Tracy for the awesome graphics on the left side of the van!). Our Cycling Jerseys sponsor, Graham Mathew and our Cycling Shorts sponsor, Grand Valley Fortifiers! Our Bicycle Frame sponsor, Fliet Electric, and our Secondary Van sponsors, Hammond Plumbing & Heating Inc., KW4Rent, Ride for Refuge, and Sterwyn Contracting Ltd.!
When we were approaching the beginning of our trip, we were still not quite at the level of our budget, which was $16,000. But by the time we left, we found we actually had $17,400, thanks to a number of friends and family who gave us donations to fund our trip! It was nice to know at the time that we had more than what we planned to be needing. As it turned out, we had way more than what we needed, and are able to donate the rest to Ratanak!
A special thank-you to Murray and Katie Lewis, for letting us use their mini-van for the trip! We saved money by not having to buy a used van, and it was nice to know that the vehicle we were using was reliable.
Thank you so much to the amazing staff at Ratanak International, who have cheered us on since we first approached them last summer with our ambitions of supporting them; thanks especially from my end to Alexis Cobham, who was my primary contact there and helped me with the many questions and details I had to figure out.
Thanks to many, many people who fed us, gave us showers and a place to sleep, or arranged with friends and contacts for us to stay somewhere; the churches who let us use their facilities for a night, the churches who gave us a few minutes to talk about our trip. So many people were involved in direct support for us on our trip-easily well over 100 people that I can think of right away!
There were also so many people from our church and other churches who encouraged us, sent us messages, wrote us encouragement letters and especially, prayed for us continually! That meant so much before and during the trip, so thank you for that!
Through our many hosts and all those who fed us along the way, as well as thanks to the generous support we received from our sponsors and friends and family-which put us at $17,400 for trip funds-thanks to that, we were able to save a lot of money, and that has gone towards our fundraising for Ratanak.
To continue the good news, I just got some numbers from Ratanak at the end of last week, and combined with the donations that I'm sending to them this week, we have $33,868.52 in donations now! That's about twice as much as we had near the end of the trip (about $16,500), and almost $10,000 over our goal of $25,000! A HUGE THANK YOU to everyone who donated! No matter how small a gift, it helped, and it added up to something BIG.
Through our trip and the many things that have come together to make this happen, we've seen how God has worked in others and in us to make amazing stuff happen! Whether it was funding, billets, opportunities to share about our trip, or fundraising, God used us to make a difference in other people's lives!
Helping [E]xploited [P]eople [I]n [C]ambodia,
Ben Looby & the EPIC Riders - Dave, Luke and Evan