With high hopes and great expectations, I pulled into the church parking lot and met up with the thirty person team I’d be riding with for the 2500 mile round trip to Mexico and back. This would be a trip for the books.
Nearly half of the thirty came from a Leavenworth church that we were partnering up with. After we powwowed and had a general overview of the rules, we loaded up in vans and whizzed right off to the gas station to begin our journey.
As part of our general rules, we each were assigned to a certain chore when we stopped for gas. My assignment was to write the mileage on the receipt, others had to pump the gas, check the oil, wash the windshield, and so on. I suppose being the first stop requires a bit of grace regarding efficiency, but some things seem pretty obvious in their necessity. We pulled away from the pump to embark on our expedition and took the nozzle along with us. It seems whoever had been pumping the gas forgot to actually remove nozzle from the van when they had finished. Little did we know this was just the beginning to a seemingly never ending flow of set-backs, nearly all caused by our beloved green van.
It seems nearly guaranteed that a trip of that length in church vans would institute some sort of van problem, we just weren’t expecting so many. We made it down to Sacramento on day two without many issues, but at the gas station we noticed a nice sized puddle beneath the green van. The heat was nearly unbearable for us Washingtonians, so we hit the nearby mall to bask in the air conditioning as we waited for the verdict on what was going on with the travel accommodations. Long story short, three volunteers were needed to stay late with the van as it was being fixed so everyone else could pile into the remaining vans and head off to our destination of the night: Bakersfield.
My sister Lisa, her friend Haven, and I volunteered to stay, which ended up being the greatest adventure of all. We found an after-hours mechanic shop that was willing to work on our van and promised to get it running smoothly for us. It only took a couple of hours until we were back on the road and heading to Bakersfield with our lovely green van. Though it still broke down daily, it got us down to Mexico safely.
Mexico is a whole different world. Our mission was to build two houses for needy families with the help of Amor Ministries. In four days we transformed a plot of dirt into a small, stucco-covered home. It was a beautiful experience to work alongside the Mexican family and erect this house for them. It was truly a miracle that our vans didn’t break down the entire time we were in Mexico, even with the roads being an unofficial roller coaster.
It wasn’t until the day we were on our way back home, all packed up and heading toward the border that the van bummed out again. This time the wheel was smoking because the breaks wouldn’t disengage. Thankfully, with much pounding, the mechanics were able to fix it well enough that we could make it across the border into San Diego, where we left it at a shop and rented a car to get home. That van made our trip much more interesting than originally anticipated. I learned that difficulties can make a great trip even better!
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