Finisia Medrano wears elkskin pants, high-laced leather boots and a cowboy hat, lives in a covered wagon and has devoted her life to Christ.
This week Medrano rode into northern Utah with her covered wagon, the canvas emblazoned with 2-foot red letters reading, "Pulling for Christ."Her caravan of five horses, two boys, two dogs and a crow came out of the desert unheralded. They weren't greeted by the crowds that lined the streets for the Centennial Wagon Train. They came in on the highways moving 4 mph, clogging traffic, puzzling impatient motorists and leaving them wondering what and why.
Medrano is a different sort of missionary. As her close friend Barbara Schneiter said, "She's definitely not meek."
She's tough and blunt. She swears, but she doesn't takes the Lord's name in vain. Her message is nondenominational and she hates talk about being saved.
"I think salvation is wonderful, but it should not be the motivation of your heart," Medrano writes. "The question that would be better is, `Do you love the Creator, your Father in heaven?' If yes, how can you best show him that love? What can you do? Of what can you refrain from doing? What can you give, and just how much can you take to show your love?"
For Medrano, her love of God meant giving up her home and livelihood.
Medrano was an atheist 12 years ago, an atheist who had to quit smoking. That's when she discovered the Bible. She used the New Testament for her 12-step program and she became a believer. Her conversion led to her divorce.
"With that divorce I decided I've devote my life to Christ," she said.
She quit her job as a nurse in Nevada, put on some good walking shoes, packed a bag with several changes of underwear, tucked her hair under a cowboy hat and began walking.
She had read Matthew 6:25-26 - "Take no thought for your life. . . . Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your Heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?" She took the verse to heart.
Since then Medrano has packed on horses, driven her wagon and walked across the country telling people about Christ.
And, she says, she's seen the Lord provide.
The wagon she travels in was a gift from farmers in Alabama. She's been given horses and dogs and so much food that she has extra bags of pancake mix resting on the wagon's floor.
The inside of the wagon is part kitchen, part bedroom, part library. Banged-up pots and pans hang from the ceiling alongside plastic 32-ounce mugs. Buckets filled with dog food sit under the clothes rack.
Medrano's library consists of the Bible, maps and different religious books. She even has an LDS hymnbook. She bought it for her favorite song, "A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief."
Above the books sits a wounded crow she saved from transients in Winnemucca, Nev. The walls are lined with Indian blankets, animal furs and Medrano's beadwork.
"I live 50 percent on faith and 50 percent on work," she said. Medrano sells her beadwork and a collection of her stories and poetry. Last winter she worked as a nanny for a trapper. This summer she took two boys, Jesse Daniels from Oregon and William Duncomb from Ogden, on a six-week journey. They finished their trek this week in Ogden.
"I'm putting everything at risk so they can learn a lesson," said Medrano, who has had to loosen up her tight ship to accommodate the young men.
The boys, who both wear cowboy hats, leather pants and bandanas, have learned a lot about horses, but Daniels said six weeks in the desert with Medrano taught him mainly about God.
"Believe in him," he said. "Whatever you need he'll provide for you. He always knew ahead of time what we needed and it was there."