August 28th, 2013
Have I got a story to tell you!
If you follow our schedule, you probably noticed we sang at the Kalona Gospel Sing in Kalona, IA last weekend. We left on Thursday and sang on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. It was a long and hot, but blessed and fun weekend.
When we left Des Moines, Iowa on Monday, August 26th, we fully expected to be home by suppertime that evening. It wasn’t an extremely long trip (only about five hours or so), and we didn’t have any commitments that night. We were highly anticipating a week at home after the Kalona Gospel Sing and before the Floyd Gospel Sing on September 6th, 7th, and 8th.
Yet, as I type on this beautiful Wednesday morning, we are still 45 miles away from home. Yes, Wednesday.
The trip home went smoothly; it was quiet and we made only one rest stop. We had no problems…that is, no problems until the we smelled the smell.
On Highway 169, just north of the Twin Cities, a peculiar aroma filled the Glory Bus. It was putrid, like something was burning. We thought it would pass (as most smells do while traveling) but as we continued, the smell lingered. Some of us smothered our faces in blankets and scarves as Dad decided to pull into his mom’s nearby townhome to check out the bus.
We are so grateful he did.
When Dad stopped the bus, we piled out and immediately choked on the smell, which was stronger than before. Running around the bus, we discovered to our horror the back left wheel well was billowing with smoke. PANIC! Imagine eight Garms racing about the poor old Glory Bus, unhitching the trailer, removing valuables from the bus (Bibles, schoolbooks, computers, cameras, pillows, etc. etc.), and trying to remember the combination to Grandma’s garage to get water and buckets. Ben was also seen by the smoking tires wondering how in the world the fire extinguisher in his hand worked.
The garage was soon opened and a brigade of amateur fire-fighters grabbed whatever bucket-shaped containers they could find and filled them with water. Dad doused the tires several times (the last time laying under the bus) until the smoke finally began to dissipate. We then realized the bus wasn’t going to immediately start on fire, so we loaded our valuables back on board.
Our dear grandma resides in an assisted-living (she had a stroke last year and has been unable to move back), so her townhome was vacant. After an exhaustive search, we eventually discovered a key while Dad called a local truck repair shop.
After Dad was off the phone, we realized we probably weren’t going to make it home that night.
Dad suspected the Glory Bus had a stuck brake, and the guy at the shop shared his suspicions. At first, Dad was told we wouldn’t be able to get the bus repaired that evening, but after another phone call, he learned the shop was open until midnight and could work on it.
We unloaded from the bus all our suitcases, sleeping bags, and other personal belongings and deposited them in Grandma’s house, preparing for an overnight stay. For the trip we had packed along some old microwave popcorn for our hotel stay, so I “made” popcorn, while Dad and Mom drove the Glory Bus to the repair shop. When they arrived at the shop, they learned from a disgruntled mechanic that the building had just lost power. (Just the news you want to hear when you bring a vehicle in for repairs, right? Right.) They walked two miles back in the blistering triple-digit heat (collecting a golf ball and old steel ball bearing on the way) while we kids enjoyed supper and listened to Classical MPR’s favorite film score countdown on Grandma’s old Magnavox. 🙂
And then, we waited.
Dad and Mom ate supper and we waited. We played a family game of Farkle and we waited. We organized our stuff and waited. We got ready for bed and we waited. We went to sleep and we waited. We woke the next morning…and we waited.
A call eventually came with an update. First, the power was back on in the shop, and yep, the brake was stuck. All the brakes’ slides seemed dry, so should they oil them? (Dad said yes.) Oh, and the wheels needed new studs and lugnuts too. Lovely.
The waiting continued throughout breakfast, and lunch, and come suppertime, we realized again we weren’t going to be home Tuesday night either. Dad kept calling periodically and each time there was a new complication (for example, they “couldn’t” find parts locally, so it was looking like they’d have to order them from Memphis, TN; Dad quickly informed them studs and lugnuts were available locally).
Our food from the weekend’s travels was almost gone, so we raided Grandma’s pantry with expired canned and boxed foods and had a dinner of old bacon, pork and beans, chow mien chicken, cornbread stuffing, salmon patties, asparagus, and hotdogs. (Thankfully, there was a gas station within walking distance, so we were able to pick up a few essentials, like eggs, butter, milk, and water.)
We enjoyed playing games with each other to help pass the time:
It was so weird, yet so natural to be stuck at Grandma’s townhome. We had everything we needed to get by (even old food in the pantry!) and we had each other. We were safe, and extremely grateful the bus did not start on fire (which it might have if we had not stopped in time). Yet, here we were, stranded, with no way to get home. We kept wondering why God wanted us to be there, and why we couldn’t go home. It was an exceedingly odd situation.
Tuesday night passed, and some of us actually got some sleep that night. 🙂 Wednesday morning we received word that, surprise, surprise, a tire was flat on the bus. (We don’t know how or why.) It was sent across the street to a tire shop and though they couldn’t discover any damage (strangely) simply refilling the tire took all of Wednesday.
While we waited Wednesday, we took the opportunity to pull my keyboard out of our nearby parked trailer to examine and finish some of my original songs and work up another new song by a friend. Exciting!
Around 5:00 that evening, we finally received word that the bus was ready to go. Dad and Mom once again, braved the rush-hour traffic (on foot, mind you!) to pick up Old Glory while we kids cleaned Grandma’s home and prepared our belongings for moving out. It was so thrilling to know we were actually going home. When the old Glory Bus finally drove up, we were more than ready to climb aboard!
Thankfully, no other oddities occurred during the travel home, and it was grand to eat supper at our own house.
It was like we had lived in “limbo land” for a couple of days – as though we were caught in a time warp. We don’t know why the Lord allowed this strange trial, other than to keep us reliant on Him. We were needing to reorder a new batch of our “Thank You, Lord” CDs, but this $1200 repair bill taught us our timing is not necessarily the Lord’s timing. God likes to teach us to trust in Him in all things!
“Two things I ask of you; deny them not to me before I die: Remove far from me falsehood and lying; give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, lest I be full and deny you and say, “Who is the Lord?” or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God.” (Proverbs 30:7-9, ESV)
Well, there is the promised adventure for you! As we always say, “You never know what’s going to happen next on the Glory Bus!” 🙂
Signing off…for now.
-Taylor for TGF