A few minor points of background info.
a) For last year's trip, we got about 20 miles down the road and had a flat on the bus. Because of the size tires it requires, it was a bit of an ordeal to get it changed in the small town the bus limped into. We made it another 90 miles -- and had another flat. In another small town. So, by 3 p.m. we were about 2 hours into a 10 hour trip. Of course, this year there were MANY jokes about checking the tires, what-not.
b) Personal background: I finished teaching swim lessons on Thursday, went shopping for the trip food and VBS supplies on Friday, then completed my half- marathon on Saturday -- that I pulled a calf muscle about 1.5 miles into. Not only was I exhausted, I could barely walk by the time it was time to leave Monday morning. THEN, reaching for one of the cereal boxes to load on the trailer, my back went completely OUT. My body was DONE with the abuse -- and I was about to go sit on a bus for minimum of 10 hours.
So. We climb aboard the bus, and all goes so well. AND the a/c works AMAZING (read: I am FREEZING) -- another thing that went out last year. Stopped for our scheduled lunch. Carry on. Shortly before we stopped for gas at one point, there's a smell. Like burning rubber. Only we are not peeling out. All the guys get out and look under the hood. (We actually had someone with us who owns a car dealership and he called his service guy). I hear "Blah, blah, belt, blah, blah, tensioner, blah blah bad smell..."
All I know is that they are taking it down the road to some truck repair place. And we're off. And sitting. For about 2 hours. We rock on the front porch of the truck repair place, and the teens play some VERY loud game (first ninja, then "YAH!" or "Dude!" -- don't ask) but we really had a good time. Thankfully, we were in the shade, and above all, the people were VERY gracious to us. AND this gave me much time to stretch my back. Ashley was, of course, quite mortified, but I felt much better.
The most amazing part of this part of the story -- and how God's story comes in, other than keeping us safe when our vehicle was having trouble -- was the owner of the shop and one of his mechanics. I wasn't in on this, but these 2 guys stayed an hour past closing time to fix our bus, yet wouldn't take any money for it. The men with our group that were back there trying to give them money prayed a prayer of blessing over them and continued to thank them -- and we were off. Again. A little delayed, but still about 3 hours ahead of our previous year's schedule.
We continued to charge ahead, hoping to get to McAllen and grab some pizza while we unloaded later than planned. By this time, I had moved to the van, so I seemed to miss the excitement when we were in Alice (about 8 p.m.). But all we saw was the bus pull over into a little parking lot, all the guys checking under the hood again (becoming a common sight) then one of them pulling out a broken belt. Hmmmmm -- I don't know much about vehicles, but I am guessing that was important...
End result of that little escapade was that the bus was dead as a doornail and would need to be towed the remaining 65 miles to McAllen. We hauled the kids across the highway in shifts in the van and one car to get to a place to eat dinner. The guys with the bus began to be swarmed by mosquitoes, and a plan began to take place.
By about 12:30 a.m., we were all where we were supposed to be -- albeit a little beyond exhausted and loopy. Ricky's father-in-law (our elder contact for McAllen) and another man drove 2 vans to Alice to get the rest of our crew, while some of us had gone ahead in our one van to be getting settled in the dorm (which we didn't really, but that's another story).
So... where was God in all of this? How could any of this possibly have affected HIStory? Didn't we pray to have a great trip down? Well, first of all, God never promises us easy passage. But He did deliver us safely, and all of our stops were at safe places for our teens to get off the bus and get out of traffic and rest and relax comfortably. And, the teens later conceded, they really enjoyed the extra time to get to know each other without ipods and not being stuck only 2 to a seat.
And how will we ever radiate God's love to others if our passage is only smooth sailing? We were so blessed by the gentlemen that worked on our bus for free, and the men who left their homes late at night to come get us. But I personally was blessed by each of the adults I was traveling with who simply took the setbacks in stride -- they were what they were, and we could only problem solve and punt. It is truly a joy to serve with people like that.
I don't know how Day 1 changed history for any of us for sure. But seeds were planted. Maybe in teens watching how adults handled minor crises differently than they usually see. Maybe in a convenience store clerk wondering why the kids waiting there weren't tearing up her store like most do. I don't have to know how HIStory will be changed or played out to know that I am a part of it.