It was a simple enough plan. I had an appointment in Moose Jaw (the city closest to us, about 15 minutes down the highway) and Chuck had to go to Regina (about an hour further). We got a babysitter for the girls, and the plan was to go to my appointment, and then continue on with Chuck to Regina. While he did his thing, I would do errands, shopping, and have a little bit of “me” time.
We set out at 2:30. As soon as we got on the highway, we knew it was going to be bad. The wind was blowing; the highway was snow-covered and there was zero-visibility. I sat in the passenger seat clenching the arm rest, and praying that we didn’t run into a semi, or slide off the road. We made it to Moose Jaw, and decided that Chuck would just drop me off at my appointment and keep going to Regina, in the hopes of outdriving the weather. For him to sit in MJ for an hour waiting for me, would mean that the roads would probably be worse by the time we were ready to set off for Regina. We agreed that I would either find a ride back to Caronport, or just hang in MJ until 10:30-11 when Chuck would be on his way home. Hopefully, the weather will have cleared by then, we said to ourselves.
I finished my appointment and walked up to the McDonalds. When I arrived there were several messages from Chuck. He was 1 km outside of Regina and in the ditch. The tow company said it would be hours until they could come and get him.
Thank goodness for free wifi. With my iphone and facebook I jumped into action. I posted a message on facebook and on the community email seeing if anyone knew anyone in Regina who could go rescue him. A flurry of messages and conversations ensued. Within an hour, a seminary student in Regina (who I don’t think I’ve actually met) offered to go get Chuck and take him to his appointment. Not only that, the student then offered Chuck a place to crash overnight, as it was obvious that the roads weren’t going to be getting better anytime soon. With Chuck taken care of, I took a deep breath.
Now how was I going to get home? I checked the road report. The highway between Caronport and MJ was closed. That’s how bad the weather had become. Crud. A flurry of conversations on Facebook ensued, and a friend called our pastor in Moose Jaw and asked if I could hang out at their house. Within half an hour, the pastor had picked me up and had set up the guest bed for me.
In the meantime, I was talking with the babysitter. Don’t worry, she said, I’ll just crash on your couch. The kids were taken care of.
The kids were at home. I was spending the night in MJ, and Chuck was spending the night in Regina. Definitely not the plan, but we were safe.
The next morning I got a ride back to Caronport with someone who was headed to campus. The road report said the roads were driveable. We quickly learned that they were only technically driveable. They were ice-covered. We didn’t drive faster than 40 km/h, and at several points it was safer to drive on the rumble strip on the edge of the road, than stay on the ice. But we made it.
Chuck got a ride back out to the highway to where he had left the car. It was gone. The RCMP had towed it in the night, but a snow drift was building beside it and spilling into the right lane of traffic. Off to the tow company to retrieve the car. Once there, the tow company put it on a flat-bed and had it towed to a garage recommended by the seminary student who had come to Chuck’s rescue.
It was getting close to 11. And now there was nothing Chuck could do but wait for word on the car. And he waited. And waited. And waited.
Finally, at 4:30 word came down. The car was beyond repair. It would have been over $4,000 to fix the 21 year old car. There was no point, and even the mechanic was honest enough to say as much.
(The timing couldn’t have been worse. We were only 7 weeks from getting a new car. My mom is coming out at the end of April and selling us her nearly new mini-van.)
Chuck just needed to come home. He had been gone 24 hours, still in the clothes he had worn the day before. He was tired and stressed. We decided the easiest thing to do would be to rent a car for a week. Enough for him to come home and give us some breathing room for a few days to figure out what to do next.
Off he went to find a car rental office. He then went back to the garage, and emptied out the 92 Lincoln. Car seats. Winter gear. Paperwork from the glovebox. All the random stuff that inevitably accumulates in a car. Good-bye Lincoln. The garage offered to have it sent to the scrap yard. Taking pity on Chuck, they also didn’t charge for their services.
Thankfully, the roads were completely clear when he made his way home. He came home and collapsed. We talked about our options.
We couldn’t afford to rent the van all the way through April. But if we could find someone willing to lend us a car on Monday and Thursday nights so he could go to Regina, we could survive. It would mean not going to our church in MJ for a month or so, but it wouldn’t be a problem to walk to one of the two churches here in Caronport. And Chuck could even do the grocery shopping on Monday nights on his way home. We could make this work.
And then we looked at the weather report. More snow was on its way from Thursday through Sunday. All we could do was laugh.
Even though it was a stressful couple of days, and it will probably be a stressful couple of weeks, both of us could recognize God’s blessings in the situation. From amazing friends who pitched in to help us, to the fact that it could have been so much worse (Chuck could have been stranded in the middle of nowhere, I could have been with him and had no way to get back to the girls on Tuesday morning, etc), God provided for us.
And even today, as it threatens to dump another 10-15cm later tonight, I am amazed at the glimmers of God’s goodness. The three-year-old has declared today to be a summer day and is spending the day dancing around in her bathing suit. Chuck is prepared, and has packed an overnight bag just in case he can’t get home tonight. We have groceries in the house in case we can’t get out all weekend.
I’m teaching my last class related to my internship today. Our opening Psalm, that was chosen weeks ago, is going to be Psalm 136. The repeated response that runs through each verse has been looping through my head for two days: “His love endures forever.” Whatever else happens, whatever stressful situations crop up, none of that negates the fact that God’s lovingkindness endures forever. God is good. And I am thankful.