When a leader plans a trip (unless they’re new to planning), there’s a common understanding: “Nothing goes according to plan.” What was supposed to be an 8 ½ hour trip from Eaton, OH to Kansas City, MO turned into a 13 hour adventure that many of us will never forget.
Just outside of Brownstown, IL (Haven’t heard of it? Yeah, neither have we…) the vehicle pulling the trailer full of our luggage began to smoke. We pulled over, and discovered that the transmission fluid was leaking. Stranded somewhere between exit 68 to 76, I began to realize why God had pulled together this team of adults and students. Mark began immediately assessing the problem and finding a fix, Joy and Bethany began entertaining the students, and I did what most youth pastors do in moments like this: question why I ever became a youth pastor in the first place. Just kidding! I embraced the “nothing goes according to plan” mantra, and began looking for alternatives for us to fit students and luggage to get us the rest of the way to Kansas City.
We were about a mile away from the next exit, and moved the students there so we wouldn’t be vulnerable on the side of I-70. As we got off the exit, there was nothing in sight but an abandoned building which seemed a bit too sketchy. Off in the distance, though, I saw a truck stop… and thought we’d brave it. At least they’d have bathrooms and a place where we can sit for a few hours while we got our bearings. As we pulled into the truck stop, we discovered the stop was part of A.C.T. (Association of Christian Truckers). As we walked in, we were welcomed and greeted by an incredible host, Doc, who opened up the chapel, the bathrooms and the entire facility for us to simply rest and relax.
What took us 2 weeks to find a 15-passenger vehicle prior to our leaving, only took us 2 hours to find another 15-passenger van. We praise God for Tim, who owned a small rental car business that stayed open hours later for us to arrive because we were stranded in the middle of nowhere and took at least a half hour drive to the nearest big city. Apparently, the van was supposed to be rented the night before for a week, but the person who had rented it never showed and Tim had an opening for the next week. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have had any vans.
In all of this experience, I didn’t hear a single complaint from any of our students. They embraced the situation and truly found some ways to enjoy life no matter the circumstances. They had fun together, they played games, they were flexible… which has become quite the moto for this trip.
So far, we have seen God using us and leading us into many different conversations and serving in unique ways. We’ve handed out water at a local park, which led to some great interactions. We’ve gone on prayers walks that have led some to help people move furniture, weed gardens and pray for those who cross our paths. But more on that in a later post…
As you pray: