I was completely flabbergasted, are you kidding me, this van is practically NEW (compared to what we have driven in the past), it shouldn't be breaking down this early, its nuts! Then I was struck by how amazing it is that we were in a town, that we were in front of an auto parts store, and not in the middle of the interstate or (possibly worse) on the side of a two lane country road. In a seemingly bad situation, still a place to thank God for his mercy and watchcare.
Then I looked at Seth and said, "So I guess God has something for us to learn here in Andalusia, Alabama." He smirked and called a tow truck.
With Seth on the cell phone, Crystal and I immediately loaded all 5 kids (her 2 and my 3) off to the McD's conveniently located across the street (did I mention this was a metropolis?). Thankfully there was a playplace outside, unfortunately, it smelled like a recent visitor had lost their happy meal on the slide. But desperate times call for desperate measures. And boy were we desperate--the kids had to use the facilities for business beyond *number 1* and they timed it perfectly so that either Crystal or I were "taking care of business" in the restrooms the whole time we were there. We finally abandoned the McD's for a park a bit down the road. We should have stayed at McD's a bit longer, it was one of those mornings--several of the kids had to christen the park (because, of course, who puts potties around a playground where small children who can't hold it may come to play for hours?).
On the main stretch of road, next door to Taco Bell and McDonald's, we got the LAST room available at the Best Western. Oddly enough, there was some kind of high school rodeo championship in town, and the only hotel in town was booked, except for one lowly smoking double. My parents made a stop for lunch on their way north, and that afternoon everyone took off for home. Leaving us feeling very alone and strange about being stranded in Alabama without a plan for ever getting home.
Saturday night we took a LONG walk to explore the prospect of attending a local church Sunday morning. This turned into serious drama because (little known fact) love-bugs are in season in the South and Ella has a serious bug phobia. I don't use the word "phobia" lightly. She's down-right terrified of anything that closely resembles a bee. All flying insects are bees, she's never been stung by a bee, doesn't know what it feels like, but her imagination has gone into overdrive with this and she expects it to kill her, possibly. I can't figure out an explanation for her frantic screaming whena bug comes near her. We caught these bugs and showed her, killed them and let her touch them, didn't make any difference. As we walked along the sidewalk if anything flying came near us she started shrieking, moaning, wailing, anything aside from swishing her hand in front of her face and saying, "Shoo" as we had instructed her to do. Complete insanity. So we walked down the road, our peace interrupted every few SECONDS by shrill wails of insanity. We found a sign for a church, and Seth scouted out how far it was from the main road so we decided we'd make a visit to them the next day.
That turned out to be the best thing we could have done. Sunday when we showed up at this little building, the 30 or so people there greeted us with warm kindness and...curiousity? When they heard our, "Breaking down in the center of town" story they were concerned for us and continued asking if they could do anything at all. We walked out of church holding keys to the building, a promise of a ride back that evening and phone numbers in case we needed other help. These people were beyond a blessing to us. When we got back that night they gave us snacks, gift cards (since we were living on fast food, the only thing within walking distance), and more phone numbers. They were truly acting as the body of Christ, and when we got back to the hotel that evening I was on the verge of tears because of the love I felt from these people we hardly knew.
Beyond the church body, the pastor was incredible. This church had recently experienced hard times, and were searching for a new pastor. Seth and I were both amazed by the way God was using this young evangelist in a tiny country church. He was an eloquent, intelligent teacher. We had walked into the situation not expecting very much and God put us in our place immediately. I still don't know why we landed in Andalusia. Maybe our family needed some "forced fun" spending time together in close quarters. Maybe we needed to see this little church, or maybe someone there needed to meet us. We may never figure it out, but we saw that the detours in life can be blessings, if we let them.
Back to the title of this LONG story...Moby. Monday morning the town awoke and we rented a car (from the one rental agency in town that just opened a few weeks before our arrival) and called the dealership that had our van. It was going to require about $1500 of repairs and they had two transmission jobs ahead of us. It was probably going to be well over a week before we could pick it up. After much deliberation, possibly some coercing on the part of the dealership owner, we decided to trade our van in on this hulking masterpiece that we have lovingly dubbed "Moby" (Everett wants us to call it Crazy Big Van but we vetoed that one).
But wait! Before I show you a picture, understand that we were thinking about getting something bigger. And as cool as a 9 passenger SUV would be, the 20k more on the price tag wasn't worth the cool factor to me. Practical hubby that he is, Seth wanted one of these from the beginning of our "we may need a bigger car" discussions. See our last vacation post for details on this. But in all honestly, I think Seth bought this van because he thinks it's funny to see me driving it. And to see 3 kids tumble out of a TWELVE passenger van...yep, we bought a 12 Passenger van for the five of us. So here's the newest addition to our family:
And just so you can giggle like Seth does...