Yesterday was the day that I would never wish on anyone. I would love to rewind and get a do-over and at least change my part.
I’m not sure how it happened, but apparently my children thought they were in the Olympics and each was striving hard for the gold. Unfortunately, the competition was in arguing, aggravating, and general discontent. All these amazing feats were accomplished while riding in the van across Arizona desert.
I understand that my kids are tired, some are sick, and they are sad at having just said ‘good-bye’ to great friends. I also understand that this is not the way we normally interact as a family. Our trips are usually very light-hearted and fun, but in the midst of the battle you forget those details. As we drove across the barren land, I began to look longingly at those lonely little ranches scattered across thousands of acres. The Proverb, “It is better to live in a desert land than with a quarrelsome and fretful woman,” made a lot of sense to me.
We decided to stop for an early dinner and let the girls get out and run around. We stopped at a Dairy Queen attached to a store selling fireworks and an assortment of Indian crafts and art. The store was the only sign of civilization for miles. As we pulled in, we all noticed a very strong and strange smell. We all immediately began looking around for some factory that could be producing the foul odor, but there was nothing nearby. When we got out of the car, David and I looked at each other both knowing that the smell was coming from our van. A mechanic looked at our van and suggested we try to make it to the next little town and get it fixed there. We finished our dinner and set out.
The next town consisted of three truck-stops, a video store, a small grocery store, and several car/truck repair shops. The mechanic said he could work on the van the next morning, but he suggested we try to make it to Albuquerque because they would definitely have all the parts we needed. It might take him until Monday to get the needed parts and we were scheduled to be in Texas by Sunday. So, we drove on trying to make it safely to Albuquerque, about 70 miles away.
“Um, Dad, did you know that there is a lot of smoke coming out of the back of our van?” Charis asked?
We pulled onto the shoulder (right at an exit that seemed lead to no where) and sat while white smoke billowed from underneath our van. We were still at least 30 miles from our destination.
“Dad, is our van on fire, ‘cause there sure is a lot of smoke and it smells like something’s burning,” came a voice from the back.
Having a vehicle catch on fire is very scary and we have had it happen twice on previous trips to the states, once near the engine and once near the gas tank. With that history, you can see why it would take some explaining to convince the girls that smoke billowing out isn’t coming from fire, but from fluids leaking out onto the exhaust.
The tow truck arrived about 40 minutes later. Because there wasn’t room for all of us in the cab, David and two of the girls rode in the van that was now sitting up on the flatbed truck. The other two girls and I squeezed into the cab with the driver.
Berean Baptist Church (a church we’ve never visited) graciously invited us to stay in their apartment for the night. By the time we got settled in our room, it was late. We turned off the lights expecting everyone to fall right to sleep. Instead, we heard whispers and quiet giggles erupting from around the room. It was music to my ears. We all closed our eyes with thankful hearts for the way God had provided for us.
The mechanic at the shop was baffled by our van. He couldn’t understand how we had made it so far. The back axel had been ground so badly that it should have seized up on us and caused the van to flip. We were thankful for our Father’s provision before but now we recognized His hand in protecting us and others on the road with us.
“I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds. I will be glad and exult in you; I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.” Ps. 9:1-2