Church Vans, Hail, & What is Enough?

Last week, while LuAnn and I walked through a week in Durango, CO with about a thousand students and youth leaders at CIY Move, Emily went to a science camp at the University of Wyoming, and the other 3 kids got to hang out with Grandma & Grandpa for about 10 days. We dropped the kids off in Laramie before the weekend, headed back to Scottsbluff that same day, packed on Saturday, then headed for Durango on Sunday. After we got back late Saturday night, we unpacked on Sunday, went to pick up the kids on Monday and came back Tuesday after the science camp had officially closed. We’ve covered a lot of miles in the last couple weeks.

Which brings me to a place of gratitude for reliable transportation. I’ve been on trips where the church van didn’t make it back from camp or a conference or whatever. I’ve been stranded at a roadside stop with a van load of Jr. Highers in the middle of South Dakota, waiting for a ride to come from the other side of the state to rescue us because the transmission would no longer ‘transmit’. I’ve been changing tires on the side of the road in 100 degree weather in mid-July MO humidity because a rented trailer with no spare (which I was promised was in there) blew a tire. Then two hours later, I had to repeat the process on the van tire. On that one trip we had 2 blowouts, had to stop every half hour because of overheating for the last third of the trip, had no A/C, and finally ended with a deluge of fluids that stranded us about 3 hours from our final destination. (3 hours that ended up being driven with about 9 of us in a Ford Tempo in the middle of the night!)

So, here’s to the church vans that get you there and back. The seat backs may be a little bent up and the chirps & rattles may seem to increase with every mile… The interior lights may flicker at the oddest of times and the fuse to the lighter’s been missing for years… That funky smell is obviously never going away and the gum stuck in the carpet of the third row isn’t even sticky anymore… But the van just keeps rolling. Thanks Forrest and Otis (as our two Fords have come to be known) for getting us where we need to go – and back.

[I feel like I may be tempting fate a little bit here, with two camps coming up in a few weeks, so please pray that the vans continue to do what they do!]

On a personal note, we left our own vehicle parked in the church’s parking lot while we were gone. I didn’t want it to be in the way under the awning while we were gone, so I just left it out in the middle of the lot (safely within it’s own lines of course). Guess what? Those yellow lines offer about as much protection from hail as a life jacket protects you from a rabid platypus. Evidently, there was a freakishly fast barrage of hail while we were gone that did about $3500 worth of damage to our mini-van. Now we have to decide how much of it to fix and how much of it to live with. What’s a few dents (ok, a lot of dents) when it still gets us where we’re going? Is my pride too out of control to drive a dinged up mini-van? (I know it’s always awkward when someone laughs at their own jokes, but I just mentioned pride and mini-van in the same sentence… you should know I’m completely mocking myself right now.)

What about you… would you drive a crappy looking car that you knew would reliably get you from A to B? Check out what these guys have done with that idea at The Junky Car Club. What if we all lived with less, so we could give more?

2 Replies to “Church Vans, Hail, & What is Enough?”

  1. I too am very thankful for the reliability of our vans. I’ve had my share of beak downs with old buses, from flat tires to replacing fuel pumps to the front seal on the transition going out. I remember standing alongside Al Hammond in the middle of the road watching one of the vans burn to a crisp alongside the road while the kids huddled together with Amber Freshour a ways away, down in the ditch. I remember driving down the interstate in SD in an old bus (The Ark)when the gas pedal went flat to the floor and the engine started racing. I had to reach down and turn it off and coast to the edge of the road. Upon further inspection, a cotter pin had come out of the throttle linkage. A paper clip was soon found and down the road we went. I remember one long trip to camp in Gillette, WY in an old doge van (Blue and White) where we had to stop at every farm house we could find to fill up with water on a high 90’s day as the radiator needed flushed. No air on that trip. That may be the last time Sheryl went to camp with me. :o) I could go on, but the point is, each trip was a memory. Some more awesome than others. What a privilege it is to go on these adventures with the best kids in the world.

  2. I drive two crappy looking cars that get me from point A to B. 🙂 However, due to our garage our cars have always escaped the Scottsbluff dimpling effect!

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