When Burdell was born, his family was very poor and there was “no crib for a bed” so he was wrapped up and laid in a suitcase. He says he was born to travel because of his first crib and the “monument” built on his birth site – a Casey’s store. After retiring from teaching, coaching and being an athletic director, he fell into his dream job in 2000 as a Regional Director of MidWestOne’s Connection Clubs’ travel programs.
His job was so much fun that Charlotte, a former home economics and art teacher B.K. (before kids) and now church secretary, couldn’t keep from adding her two cents
and the bank hired her part-time as the Activity Director for the bank trips.
As time passed, they became more and more aware of so many places and events that would be of interest to the Christian community and Blessed Byways Christian Tours was founded in 2004. After many blessed years of Christian tours, Blessed Byways Christian Tours has now decided to expand and will offer a variety of faith-based AND secular tours with one-day or multi-day itineraries for interested travelers, banks, churches and civic groups. They are now registered as Blessed Byways Tours.
Each year they attend the national Select Travel and Going on Faith conferences where they meet with dozens and dozens of suppliers and network with other travel escorts. These conferences are held all over the country. In addition, if at all possible, Burdell goes and scouts out trips. During these trips, many unique attractions and delightful folks are found making it possible for their travelers to enjoy attractions and meet wonderful people that not all others have the privilege of doing.
The first time I met Burdell and Charlotte Hensley was on a wintery cold evening in Clive, IA. Late in the afternoon on that particular day, the dispatcher telephoned and asked if I would drive the Hensleys and their group from Ryan’s Restaurant to a concert and then back to Oskaloosa after the concert was over. I agreed to do so. Not until I met them did I know the challenges they had already endured and overcome earlier that evening with two other drivers just to get them from Oskaloosa to Des Moines. Yikes! The last driver of the two had parked the bus in the Ryan’s parking lot in such a manner it was nearly impossible to get out. I was deliberate in slowly and very carefully maneuvering the motor coach through the frozen snow banks and parked cars with only inches to spare.
We finally got out of the parking lot, onto the street, and headed for the concert. Having passed their rigorous scrutiny that evening, I have had the distinct honor to drive them well over 20,000 miles across eighteen states. It has not gone unnoticed by myself or by their many loyal travelers, the careful planning that goes into each trip including reconnaissance trips to insure every detail of the trip is carefully organized. Beyond the execution of the trip is the genuine commitment each passenger’s needs are met to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip.
If ever two persons are deserving of “red carpet treatment,” it is the Hensleys. I know my life has been enriched, and consequently the lives of my family, by driving for Burdell and Charlotte. On their trips I have made lasting new acquaintances, listened to awe-inspiring music, explored the grandeur and vastness of our great land and experienced great fellowship with other travelers. I have learned when traveling with Burdell and Charlotte Hensley there is one thing, among many, that is certain; they exemplify service above self!
" There is one thing that is certain; they exemplify service