Imagine you are on a 48 passenger tour bus with approximately 45 other people, ranging in age from 50 to 14. it's day number 2 of the long awaited Mexico missions trip with the high school youth group. The excitement is just about worn off and the long flat roads of central California are stretching in front of you. Maybe now would be a good time to read or take a quick nap...
"BANG...Clunk, clunk, clunk" ruptures from the front of the bus. For a fraction of second it seems that the tireless teenagers are actually struck speechless, while the great white bus limps to the side of the freeway...and then the worried whispers begin.
"Flat tire" is the general consensus, judging from the sounds we heard issuing from the underside of our transportation. It is 4:30 PM.
Forty-five minutes later tired youth emerge from their portable prison, stretching, talking, and laughing amongst themselves. Two hours pass quickly, filled with sun bathing, pull-up contest, bottle cap tossing, card games, and a nap or two. Oh the joys of creating random entertainment for an indefinite period of time!
...Yes, this was how the Mexico missions trip started out. Nearing the end of that two hour stretching, I was helping a small group of youth leaders attempt to contact a nearby Calvary Chapel to see if we could spend the night...but I digress... Let me go back to the beginning.
Our bus did break down in the middle of California on day number 2. But it broke down just a field and fence away from a trucking company. We called them up and three workers hopped the fence to come check out the problem. It turns out that the front brake had snapped off and gotten crushed by the wheels. We (very slowly) drove the bus off the freeway and over to the truck yard lot...where we got off and waited for two+ hours.
The three workers worked on the bus for almost 3 hours during time they were supposed to be off...and then they refused pay. As Mexican Americans, they were so excited that we were going to help the people of Mexico, that they insisted on working for free. Finally, when it became apparent that the bus would not be fixed that night, a group of youth leaders hopped on our smart phones and started searching for nearby churches.
Have you ever heard of Visalia, California? None of us had. But we got (miraculously for 7:30 at night) in contact with a local Calvary Chapel. They not only agreed to let us stay the night at thier church, but they also sent two cars over to help ferry people to the church (we also brought along a 15 passenger van that we used) and they bought us pizza and soda for dinner!
We were astounded. Here we were on our way to serve people we had never met and yet we were being served by people we had never met! The next day (through another miraculous series of events) we finally had the bus fixed and ready to roll...at 4:30 pm. But we were on the road again, only a day behind schedule, and COMPLETELY and TOTALLY blessed.
They allowed use their gorgeous church facility the entire next day to practice our skits for Mexico, fix the exhaust pipe on the van, play volleyball, and just hang out.
Every single person on the trip, left Visalia feeling an overwhelming sense that God was truly in control and that He had just given us a huge example of what it meant to truly serve. Had we not had that experience on the way down, I doubt we would have been able to serve as effectively in Mexico.
Although we were a day late arriving in Mexico, we really bonded as a group during our time "stranded" at the beautiful Calvary Chapel Visalia. We also were blessed beyond measure by their service to us on the trip. God was in control of our plans and schedule...and every single person on the trip new it.