Saturday, November 29, 2008

Safe in Mexico!

Hello everyone!

I hope you're having a great weekend! I just wanted to send out a quick blog to let you know we safely arrived in Mexico! But it was a little eventful getting here - especially the drive from Pineville to Houston. Hopefully the guys in the audience with get this and have a little compassion on me!

We left with a good cushion of time, which worked out to be necessary. We had about 3/4 tank of gas when we left. (Can you see where this is going?) I knew we would need gas either getting close to Houston or as soon as we got back before our return trip. But being a guy, I didn't want to buy gas until I absolutely needed. Why fill a tank that's still 1/4 full? (You can really see where this is going, right?!) I chose to press on until the "Buy Gas Dummy" light came on.

It didn't come on. Nope.

Just as we're taking the Beltway 8 exit off of 59 in Houston, the car sputtered and quit, coasting up one of the larger strings of spaghetti in this particular spaghetti bowl. As the lane narrowed our vehicle coasted to a stop a few thousand feet in the air. OK, it wasn't that high, but it felt like it! Cars whizzed by us a 60+ MPH as I brought our car to a stop hugging the right concrete wall, wondering how on earth am I going to get us out of this mess.

"The light never came on!" - That was all I could say to an incredulous wife and daughter who, to their credit, were extremely patient and understanding. We pulled out the insurance card to see if we had emergency roadside service on this particular vehicle. Whew! That was a relief! And then a call to 911.

Try explaining to a 911 operator that you ran out of gas ... and that you're stranded a mile high on the southbound 59 ramp getting onto Beltway 8 West. It takes awhile. She tried to keep the amusement out of her voice, once she realized we were ok. I asked her to send a wrecker or traveler's assistance vehicle or something. She said she would but didn't know how long it would take.

We sat and prayed and I asked the Lord to help us get the car out of this dangerous spot. I considered pushing it but we were still a couple hundred feet from the crown of the ramp - I didn't relish trying to push the car uphill as NASCAR drivers in training whizzed by. So I prayed. And I would turn the key off and on several times, hoping the gas pump would send just a bit of gas each time to prime the line.

It worked!!! The car started and we were able to get a couple hundred feet before it died again, but this time we were over the crown and going downhill! I figured if the wrecker made it to the ramp and didn't see us, he would keep coming and find us eventually. We coasted to a stop in a safer place, just past the next onramp.

I saw a Texaco about 3/4 mile back down the ramp and I told Lori I would walk back to buy some gas. She said, "What do I do if the wrecker shows up?" I told her to tell him to wait for me! But I didn't want to sit there for an hour or two and him not show up. We were less than 2 miles from the airport, according to my GPS. So I had to do something.

I started the trek to the gas station. Jog, walk, jog, walk, jog some more until that car passes so they won't see me stop jogging, walk a little more ... and eventually I made it. Sweaty and out of breath I walk in - "do you have any gas cans for sale?" "No, sorry. I sold the last one," he replied. I began looking for options. I asked if I bought a gallon of windshield cleaner would he let me pour it out and put gas in it. Sure.

I took the gallon of blue fluid out and was about to pour it, but first asked a fellow if he wanted any. I explained the situation and we poured a little into his car. I filled it with gas, paid the attendant and the guy was still outside. I asked if he was going my way would he mind giving me a ride - no problem! So I hopped in and he and his wife drove the 15 miles back - ok, 3/4 mile, it had just seemed that long! He was kind enough to wait with his flashers on while I poured the gas in. His wife even gave me a sales brochure to use as a funnel.

PRAISE THE LORD the car started right up! I frantically waved my thanks to the angelic stranger and his wife and we took the next exit to the airport! We arrived with time to spare, met up with Joel, Angel, Hannah and Bekah Dyke and two more from their church who are traveling down (Jason and Austin). We all enjoyed a laugh together, now that the story was over. (Another story for Joel to tell on me!)

There is a moral to the story - don't keep pushing the limits because one day the light might not come on. That's what Samson learned when he arose from Delilah's lap that fateful day, thinking he would shake himself like all the other times, but he didn't know the Lord had left him. The light didn't come on and he had pushed the limit one time too many. That's a pretty good lesson. So from now on I'm buying gas whenever the needle hits 3/4 tank. Just kidding! But I won't be counting on the light!

This has been much longer than I thought. (Sort of like my recent sermons and video presentation! :) ) Let me recap the rest of the evening. We had a very uneventful flight down to Villahermosa with lots of great visiting. One of Jason's bags didn't make it so we made arrangements for it to be brought to Coatza whenever it got here. Jose and Nelly were at the airport to receive us along with two other brothers from the congregation, in three vehicles. We loaded up and took off on the 2-hour drive to Coatza, getting in around 11:00. We stopped for a wonderful supper and then got to the hotel around 1:00AM.

I tried to get online last night to post this but my computer wouldn't connect so I sent a brief email to some family/friends from the hotel's computer and crashed. We're up and about, getting ready for a wonderful day of visiting. We'll get to drive around to see some of the sights, where we lived, some of the buildings Agua Viva used to be in, etc. I'm already amazed at how much Coatza has changed. But I'll save that for the next post. Thanks for reading this far!!! And thank you for your prayers for us on the trip.

Blessings,
Nathan
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