Saturday, July 25, 2009

Miles, Miracles, and More

Well, here we are in California at last, the result of God working in our lives in miraculous ways. We made it to Colorado with no troubling events and enjoyed our time there immensely (thanks to the Pooles).

We then left Colorado last Wednesday morning at about 3:30 a.m. and hit the interstate at around 4. Wyoming was incredibly beautiful and Utah was quite gorgeous as well. We enjoyed the drive and took lots of pictures! We had planned on getting to Battle Mountain, Nevada, which is about halfway across the state, before stopping for the night. We got about 800 miles behind us and decided to pull in at Wells, Nevada, to get gas before trucking on. We stopped at the Flying J (a truckstop chain that Virgil frequents when he's out) in Wells and filled our tank. We got a little snack and some drinks for the road and headed back out. Part-way up the on-ramp to I-80 we heard a sound... and not a good one at that. Tim and I almost simultaneously said, "That's not good." Tim was driving and went just far enough off the on-ramp to be out of the way and pulled onto the shoulder. He and I both got out. We had thought that a capped-off hose was falling down in front of the fan and making noise by rattling on the fan housing, but it was still in place. I thought I saw smoke rolling and I pointed it out to Tim, but it was hard to see because it was light smoke and the wind was blowing. I was trying to see where it came from when all of a sudden I realized that there were bare pulleys with no belt. Tim inspected and found that it was the serpentine (which if you aren't familiar with, basically runs your entire engine). It wasn't broken, just slipped, but not knowing how to put it back on, that didn't really help much. Tim, of course, was frustrated, but walked back to the gas station to ask if there were any mechanics in the area. Wells is only a town of about 1250 or 1290, so it's about Astoria's size. He was told the only option was to call a tow truck and was handed a business card. Tim called me from the station and told me a tow truck would be there in about 20 minutes. While Tim had been gone, I had looked up the three towns 30 miles back and 30 miles in front of us to see what their populations were, but they weren't even big enough to be listed and undoubtedly would have had no services. I was glad we had broken down where we were instead of somewhere less convenient. We had covered a lot of ground that day, including driving a lot of wilderness type areas that were basically uninhabited, plus the salt flats in Utah - which are 90 miles of nothing at all. I shared all this with Tim when he got back.

When Tim told me the name of the towing company, Roadway, I pointed out that we could see the truck yard from where we sat. It still took the guy a while to find us because he thought we were on the on-ramp and couldn't see us, but I was struck by how young he looked when he arrived. (Let me back up and say that I had explained to Ethan that everything happens for a reason and that maybe God had some purpose in having us break down; i.e. avoiding an accident down the road or maybe wanted us to witness to someone.) This young man of just 20 years was very helpful and understanding. He turned each of the pulleys for the belt and one was locked up. He informed us that, being after-hours, there was no one to work on our vehicle until morning. So, after struggling to get our van hooked up to the tow truck, we all crammed in the cab and started for the mechanic's garage. On the way, we had quite a talk, even though it was only about 2 miles or less. We told him where we were going and why, and he asked what denomination we are. When we said Seventh-day Adventist, he got a funny look on his face and said we were the second Seventh-day Adventists he'd picked up recently. Talk about an appointment made by God! There are probably several drivers for this company and to get the very one that had also picked up another Adventist was divine. He told us he was Baptist and that he had been baptized nearby. I was prompted by the Spirit to ask if he still attends and he answered no, that he'd been really busy lately. We shared with him that the important thing is to pursue a relationship with God and enjoy fellowship with other believers and that it doesn't always have to happen in a "church" setting. We also stressed that he could take God with him wherever he is and that God is always there, willing to accompany you to work and through the rest of your days.

It was starting to get dark and we thought we would have to walk about a mile and a half to get to a hotel, but I saw a small motel just up the street called The Wagon Wheel. I walked up to see if there were any vacancies and there weren't. The lady there was helpful, though, and when I asked about any other inexpensive places to stay that were close by, she suggested I could try the new motel another block up the street that had just reopened after being closed for a couple of years. Not wanting Tim to wonder why I'd been gone so long, I walked back to tell him before going on to the next one. The young man overheard, as he'd been talking with Tim while he unloaded the van from his truck, and immediately offered to let us put our things on the truck and he would drive us there to check, and if there were no vacancies, he was willing to drive us on to the other further-away hotel in his own vehicle after stopping at the truck yard for us to pay our bill. We gratefully agreed and began quickly selecting things we wanted to get out of the van. When we got to The Sage Inn, I ran in to check if there was a room available, and there was. This lady obviously saw me get out of the tow truck and, presuming our situation, gave me a good deal when I asked about the price of the room. It was $36 and some change! I told her I'd be right back and went to tell Tim to get our things. The young man jumped right out and started helping carry our stuff, and really carried what I felt was most of it. Ethan and I got the room squared away while Tim went to pay our towing bill. Again the young man showed his Christian character and drove Tim back to the van to get something we'd forgotten and then again to the motel, all in his own vehicle. We felt very blessed! I mean, here we were with a nice, clean motel for an unbelievable price and only 2-1/2 blocks away from the van!

We stayed up for a while, even though it was getting late by this point. We slept fairly well, and got up a little before 7:00 a.m., knowing that the garage was not even supposed to be open until 8:00. By 7:15 or so, Tim was at the garage to see if by chance someone would have come in early so he could give them the keys. A mechanic and the owner were there early, sure enough. Tim explained to them that we needed to be in Weimar, California, by 5:00 p.m. that day and said he knew they had a lot of cars to work on, but asked if there was any way they could try and get us in. He then walked back to the motel (it was 7:30 by this time) and we decided to go and try to find some breakfast. No sooner than Ethan and I had gotten dressed, combed our hair, I had gotten my contacts in, we'd put our things back in the bags so they'd be ready, and I picked up my purse to go than Tim's phone rang. It was 8:00 and it was the mechanic to say that our van was done. To say we rejoiced would be an understatement. We knew that if it was 10:00 a.m., we'd be late no matter what. We went and picked up the van and paid our bill and the mechanic handed us their card. Notice the symbol on it. No coincidence!

Long story longer, we grabbed our stuff, thanked the people at the inn, and grabbed some breakfast on our way out of town and we were on the road again! Amazing! Lots more driving and lots of road construction later, we arrived at the Weimar Institute at 4:30 p.m.!!! Just a half hour before registration closed.

Praise the Lord He knows exactly what He's doing. He had everything, all of this worked out long before we ever knew we were in trouble. We call it our $277 miracle!

Also, a funny thing about Wells, Nevada. Most of the people it seems were there because they had broken down there and never left. The lady from the inn - she and her husband broke down there about five weeks earlier, and after three days she was offered the job of manager of the motel and they've been there ever since (he's a truck driver). The lady at the fast food place said that's how most of the people in Wells got there. But, it was one of the friendliest places I've ever been. If you ever go through Wells, Nevada, be sure and patronize the town. They deserve it. And if you break down there, don't worry - God's got it all worked out! Just be careful not to stay too long or you might just decide to stay permanently!

Thank you for all your prayers for us on the way! We still covet them as we go through the next few months, financially and otherwise. Right now AFCOE is putting us up in the Weimar Inn on campus because our rental house isn't ready, which is a trial as far as meals and things, but we're just glad to be here and be safe and sound. Thanks again, friends and family!!!

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