Who would have thought this little reading light would have become our only light on the highway as we traveled home from our concert at Balsam Lutheran Church in Amery, WI last night? Not us, that’s for certain!
As Dad, Ben, and I moved toward the bus after the final items of our equipment were packed into the trailer, Sue – part of the concert committee at the church – said goodbye and wished us safe travels. I thanked her for all her help and kind words, not really considering what may be ahead for us within the next half hour.
As we all settled into the bus, Dad immediately called us to prayer, saying on the way to the church, he had noticed the speedometer was acting funny, and upon starting the bus for the return trip, he discovered we were losing battery power. He prayed for the Lord’s protection on our way home. He then shared it was very possible we would lose the headlights because the battery was only at 14 volts and rapidly dropping.
My mind wandered back to everyone who wished us safe travels, and though they said the phrase sincerely, they would have never guessed how much we needed their prayers. Caleb interrupted my thoughts with the question, “What do we do when the headlights die?” How was I supposed to answer?
We kids observed the headlights dimming from our back seats, silently eating our food as the 10:00 p.m. sky provided utter darkness around us. And, as we neared the city of Grantsburg, WI, the bus’s headlights faded away.
The lights from surrounding farm houses gave a little light for a few seconds, but when we entered a stretch with absolute no light, Dad suddenly cried out, “I can’t see the road!” Slowing down, he precariously drove the bus, and fear gripped us all as we noticed an approaching car coming over a hill.
Whispered prayers were heard around the darkened bus, and then Mom got an idea. Before the headlights went out, Mom had gotten out her reading light, preparing to read. “Hey Mom,” I had half-joked as the sudden light blinded us kids in the back, “if the headlights do go out, you could use that instead! It’s bright enough.” We then hilariously imagined Mom with her reading light and Ben with his cellphone light hanging out the sides of the bus to light up the road. Now, in the moment of crisis, Mom decided to try it.
With Mom pointing her little reading light at the white line on the road, Dad could see enough of the line to keep him carefully driving the bus up and down the hilly highway to Grantsburg. The craziest part of the trip (well, actually, it was all crazy) was one vehicle with its brights on, flashing us, trying to tell us to turn on our lights. We must have looked pretty scary – a large, ghostly bus towing a dark trailer, crawling along without any lights.
The Lord graciously protected us on that dark stretch by providing brightness to our travels through a dinky reading light. We all breathed a sigh of relief and a prayer of thankfulness as we pulled into a gas station in Grantsburg – but what to do next? We began to wrack our brains, and started to go though friends we could call at 11:00 p.m. who would possibly have a battery charger or a spare battery. Mom suggested our friends the Nuckols, who live not too far away from our home and relatively close to WI. Dad called Mr. Nuckols, and he graciously came so late at night with a battery and jumper cables to help.
Dad and Mr. Nuckols put his battery in the bus, which provided a little power to the headlights. But they were uncertain of the safety for the trip home, so Mr. Nuckols escorted us in his minivan back to Minnesota and Braham, providing light for the way home. (Thank you so very much, Mr. Nuckols, for being so giving and sacrificing of your night to help us stranded folkies out!) By the time we arrived home, it was about 1:00 a.m., and our family was super tired and very grateful.
This afternoon, Dad began poking around to discover what needed to be repaired. After looking the bus over, he says the fact that the battery got us all the way to our concert and halfway back is amazing; a normal-sized battery wouldn’t have done so. The alternator is completely dead. Our Lord definitely was watching over us and intervening in the frightful situation!
We had a wonderful time with everyone at Balsam Lutheran last night and praise God for His presence at the concert, on the way home, and every moment of our lives.
Just another great adventure on this journey with our Lord!
Blessings to you all!
Taylor for The Garms Family