I did take some pictures and videos. So, I will try to incorporate those here.
August 1, 2011 DAY ONE
Early A.M. wake up and head to Faith Acres. I had packed the truck the night before so Spider Droid and I just got in the truck and headed off. 15 of the 19 of our team members met at Faith Acres, the organization that was sending us to Joplin. Faith Acres is run by a family that attends the same church as my family. They are an organization dedicated to meeting the spiritual and physical needs in McHenry County and all over the world. This trip to Joplin, Mo was their second such trip since the Tornado hit. Several of the team members including our team leaders went just weeks after the tornado hit. The remaining 4 members of our team had left a few days earlier.
As the 15 travelers got to Faith Acres we packed, prayed and parted for JMO.
The first few hours went wonderfully. We were all excited about the trip that we thought would bring us to Joplin sometime that night. Many of us did not know each other well, or at all, and we took the opportunity to become acquainted. Before you knew it we were taking the first of many scheduled gas and bathroom stops. Soon after near Bloomington, Illinois we had the first of many unscheduled stops.
One of our 3 vehicles, a bus lent to us by a local church, had a tire basically fall off. Because of God's great mercy, the driver got us safely to the side of the road. This was around 9:30 a.m. and we did not get back on to the road for almost 6 hours. The majority of our team spent most of that time at a nearby McDonald's.
We had 3 children on the team driving with us under the age of 10. They were such a blessing to us, because instead of being whiny, complainy and downright miserable they showed remarkable patience and understanding. Yes one was my son, but the two others were younger than him, and behaved just as well as SD.
In fact one had this experience of joy while we waited . . .
So after the bus was fixed we got back on the road and calculated that if nothing else occurred we could possibly make it into Joplin late that night, early the next morning. It was hot out, we were tired, but we were ready to roll.
Of course this was not the end of our trials. Another one of the vehicles began to overheat a little, we were cussed out by a mechanic, who we were told would rotate our lugnuts. Not long after that the tire we thought was fixed started smoking. So there we were, not even yet in Missouri, maybe 5 -6 hours away from Joplin, stranded, and it was past 7 p.m. We had been on the road in the plus 100 degree temps for more than 12 hours. Some of the team members had gotten little to no sleep the night before in anticipation of the trip.
To use clothing metaphors: No towels had been thrown in, but the other shoe had certainly dropped. What we needed, was to be blanketed in the grace of God.
That blanket turned out to be a horse blanket.
A man I lived and ministered with in Russia, nows lives in the Illinois side of the St. Louis area and we "happened" to break down on the Illinois side of the St. Louis area so I called him up and told him of our troubles. Soon after that, he and 3 of his children drove up to the truck stop we were at. He offered for us to stay at his home which houses a horse ministry. Also, the people who had fixed the bus the first time drove several hours to my friend's house and corrected their work at no additional charge.
Horse Lessons were still going on in the darkness as we rolled/limped in.Everyone went from beleagured to refreshed as they experienced the calmness of a horse farm. It was especially great for me to spend time with my dear friend. Their home/faciility easily housed all 15 of us. SD and I stayed in one of the familie's rooms and Droid was down before I could finish 2 pages of the Star Wars book I was reading him. I fell asleep shortly after that.
Next Time: One journey ends, Another begins.