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July 22, 2011 - 

Pushing deeper into the U.S. heartland on his 1937 Co-op tractor with a historic heat wave gripping much of the continent, “Tractor Dave” Wolfsen sees row after row of corn and soybeans.

But behind the rows are stories—stories that connect him to the purpose of his ride.

When The Banner caught up with Wolfsen late Tuesday, he had settled in Orange City, Iowa. But not far from his mind were the people of Fairfax, Mo., including those of Fairfax United Methodist Church, with whom he spent several days before leaving for Iowa.

Bob Sefirt at a Foods Resource Bank growing project

The Fairfax church is an existing partner of Foods Resource Bank (FRB), one of the two causes for which Wolfsen is raising funds and awareness.

While in Fairfax, Wolfsen learned that during the first year of their growing project, 80 mph (129 kph) winds hit Fairfax, leveling corn throughout the area. But the 10 acres that had been planted and designated for FRB remained untouched.

“That had to indeed be a miracle,” Wolfsen said.

He is witnessing the forces of nature all along his route, from heat to flooding.

“Farmsteads, buildings—everything is under water,” Wolfsen said. “The crops are flat. But what is amazing is the attitude of one of the farmers I talked with. He said that he is not bitter, that they have to take what comes their way and go with it. It is just amazing to see the faith they have.”

The heat presents its own set of challenges for Wolfsen in promoting his two causes, the other of which is the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee’s Disaster Response Services.

“The heat is really overwhelming,” Wolfsen said. “People don’t want to stand out in it—you almost need to find them where it’s cool. Before, when weather was decent, I could stop at a gas station or wherever else I happened to stop and could usually gather a few people, but that is not happening in this weather—no one wants to be out in the heat.”

Despite the challenges, Wolfsen is encountering people receptive to his message.

“I get the opportunity to talk with people off the street—people who are unaware of the two entities that I’m working with,” Wolfsen said. “I am just amazed that after 10 or 15 minutes of conversation they are willing to open their pocketbooks and be a part of it. Every one of them has said that, while not rich, they have money and want to help people but are afraid of who and what organization to help. They say, ‘You seem like you’re talking about a couple of dandies.’”

Wolfsen has now raised $26,234 toward his goal of $200,000. He will be in Volga, S.D., on Friday, then off to Minnesota for several planned events.

Continue to follow Wolfsen through this website, Tractor Ride Across the U.S., and via his Facebook page.

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