Thanks for praying. It was a while ago now, but we’re thankful for a great time at Pioneer. They are not a big church, but they certainly are a praying church. During the morning service the pastor asked for updates on various in attendance and then he and others of the congregation prayed, leading us all as we gave thanks and also interceded for brothers and sisters there and around the world.
I remember the first time I was at a grocery store here in the US and the cashier asked “paper or plastic?” Japan uses only plastic bags and I thought she wanted to know if I was paying with cash or credit card. Wrong!
This last week while eating with friends at a Mexican restaurant in New Mexico and after placing my order the waiter asked me “red or green?” I had no idea how to decipher this either. I learned it had to do with a reference for red or green chilies with my meal.
And in case we didn’t realize from the “red or green” question that we were not in Tokyo, we quickly realized it when three large tumbleweeds came at us down the road as we watched the large Texas sunset across the spacious plains unhindered by telephone and power lines.
Our blue Neon has hit 100,000 miles.
About 350 miles before it turned over, and three hours out of Albuquerque (on our way to Kansas City), the check engine light went on. We didn’t know any mechanics in that area, but a good friend of Anna’s from college and her family happened to be in Albuquerque that day. We also thought of some coworkers in Japan whose parents live there. We contacted them both and they both recommended the same mechanic. He told us that the torque converter solenoid on the transmission needed replacing, not a big problem, but it had to go to an authorized dealer for repair. He advised us to drive slowly and see a dealership when we got the chance. So we crawled across the rest of New Mexico, getting passed by large trucks that we had been flying past earlier.
As we crawled along, we called a good friend to see what he had to say about the advice we’d gotten. When he asked about any other symptoms we decided that the car was bumping a bit more than before and shimmying some. He told us that we had two problems, the obvious engine trouble, as well as belts separating in that back tire. We stopped to investigate, but found nothing. We continued to drive slowly which allowed us to enjoy the scenery. We hoped to get up into the Oklahoma panhandle, to a town called Guymon, but going slowly (and changing two time-zones) we called it a night in a small Texas town called Dalhart.
The next morning, Mary Esther took the wrong turn (that sounds better than "got lost") in the tiny town of Dalhart while trying to find a grocery store, and came across a tire shop. The man did a quick check, then immediately took off the back two tires (without even asking), and sure enough, the bald bulges explained the reason for the bumping. We then learned that the night before a tornado had touched down in Guymon, so it was fortuitous that we had been driving slowly and weren’t up against a tornado that night.
In Kansas City, besides seeing Mary Esther’s parents and fixing the car, we had a Sunday at Blue Ridge Bible Church, a small group meeting from Heartland Church, and got to visit some friends before heading on to Grand Forks North Dakota.
We made it safely, finished orientation, have our class schedules, and are all three looking forward to our studies. Thanks for praying us through this far!
Mark and Mary Esther