This past week brought us to a whole set of circumstances that are difficult to put into a homogeneous theme, and yet perhaps there is one to be found.
A couple months ago we made a decision concerning an annual opportunity that we have not considered in 10 years. Puebla Christian School takes a week for their spring break and turns it into a school-wide “spiritual emphasis camp” or SEC (one for grades 1-6 and then followed by another camp for grades 7-12). Graciously, the school opens up attendance and participation to other Christian schools in Mexico as well as to homeschooling MKs.
Cameron attended this camp when he was in grades 1 and 2, but due to some safety issues that we weren’t comfortable with at the time, we never considered having him return there for any future camps. A few years after that, our ministry team here decided to create an MK camp for our kids which has sufficed well for our kids and less than an hour versus over 3 hours to get there is a no-brainer.
However, the two camps are quite a bit different (in size and experiences), so we decided that perhaps Dayton would enjoy the different experience that the PCS camp offers. He only really knows just a few kids in our area as friends (none of them in our city, and none of them are his age.) The PCS camp would offer him an opportunity to enjoy kids his age as well as being able to spend a few days with his friends who live further away and with whom he rarely gets to spend time.
So, we reserved a spot for him at the PCS SEC 2017. Shortly thereafter, another of our teammates’ teenage sons (and good friend of Dayton) decided to join Dayton in attending the camp near Puebla as well. So, this past Monday we got in the van with the two boys and headed over to Puebla.
Another thread to this story is that as we considered the logistics of the 3 hour drive to Puebla and the subsequent four days of camp the boys would be enjoying. What would the two of us do with our time that week without kids (and Beth’s mom would be in the USA part of that time)? Should we drive all the way back home or should we take some time for a getaway with just the two of us?
As we thought about this, we tried to remember the last time we had a getaway with just the two of us that didn’t include ministry as the main reason for the getaway. We honestly couldn’t remember. We finally decided that the last time was when we lived in Honduras (between 1997-1999) and had gone down to the Pacific coast for a weekend…(was that with baby Cameron?). OK. So, it may not have been without kids, but that’s close enough, I guess.
Given we celebrated our 25th anniversary last summer while wrapping up our summer travel (with Dayton along), we decided we should take a few days and head down to the coast to Veracruz and experience a “2nd honeymoon.” Beth hadn’t been to Veracruz since she was a teenager, and I’d never been, so it would be a new adventure (and “adventure” seems to sum up our 25+ years of marriage fairly well).
I haven’t yet mentioned that when the four of us got into the van on Monday and I started the engine, there was a high-pitched sound we’ve never heard before. It didn’t sound good whatever it was. Should we take it to a mechanic? Probably. I only know one good mechanic, and he’s 45 minutes in the opposite direction from where we were heading. We could be all day (or longer) having this looked at. Maybe the van wouldn’t even make the 45 minute trip to the mechanic’s shop. What to do? I prayed and then began driving slowly…in the direction of the wrong direction.
In the next few blocks of slow driving, the sound lessened. The engine was running well and the transmission was shifting fine. I decided to turn around, and just head for Puebla. We got on the main 6-lane highway when Bethie remembered a mechanic from the other Bible church here in town who had done some good work on her mother’s car recently.
Since we were still in San Juan, I quickly decided to get off at the next exit and go look for this mechanic. He works out of a house he rents from one of the church leaders. 15 minutes later, we pulled up to that house and saw a sign there for a mechanic, and the gate was open. He was home. He took the van (loaded with Beth and the two boys and all our stuff) for a quick drive while I waited on the sidewalk. Upon his return, we heard those dreaded words, “It’s the transmission.”
Oh. No. That’s like the automotive kiss of death down here. I haven’t met anyone in Mexico with transmission problems who has gotten their transmission repaired correctly. So, can we drive it or not? He thought it’d be ok as long as I purchased and added a particular transmission conditioner by a company called Lucas. I knew that brand from other products. It seems like a good brand.
So, we got over to the nearby AutoZone, and after a few minutes of searching, comparing products, and not seeing anything by Lucas on the shelves, I finally discovered one partially-hidden bottle left of the exact one I was looking for. To be honest, I am nervous about putting anything into the transmission (I had the transmission properly, i.e. expensively, serviced in Dallas at a trusted Toyota service department last summer), but Monday, I finally decided I didn’t have much choice. The sales clerk, upon hearing my reservations about whether to use it or not, advised me to put in about a third of the bottle (in part since it wasn’t leaking and in part just to be safe). As I added it, I couldn’t tell how much was going in. I ended up putting in about half the bottle. That sounds like a commitment.
By this point, the high-pitched sound had already lessened and eventually all but disappeared. In the mornings throughout the week, the sound was typically back (not quite as bad as the initial instance), but once warmed up and running for awhile seemed to not be a problem. Of course, there is a problem. It seemed the shifting was a bit labored in the mountains coming back from Puebla yesterday, more so than on the long incline on Friday going from sea level to almost 9,000 feet up the mountains. So, it looks like I still have a visit to our mechanic in Querétaro ahead of me this week (and Tuesday we have a student from Moody Bible Institute arriving for a couple of days of exploring the area…I was planning on driving him around…so this may complicate things a bit).
EDIT: Our co-worker who knows the mechanic in Querétaro just told me that this mechanic doesn’t do transmission work. In fact, when asked recently about a transmission shop in the area he could recommend, his answer was, “I don’t know of any transmission shop that I can recommend.” That’s not because he doesn’t know any but rather because he knows a number of them. Oh. That’s not good. It looks like my best option is to take it to the Querétaro Toyota dealership. That’s not going to be pleasant, but that’s really the only palatable choice with any hope of getting it serviced or repaired successfully.
Throughout this past week as I contemplated the unexpected transmission problems, I thought about this summer. We’re supposed to drive up to the USA and visit with up to 9 of our supporting churches. So far, I’ve confirmed Sundays with 2 of those churches and need to continue setting up more summer Sundays.
We’re talking another 8k to 10k mile trip. Not a time to be having uncertainties about a transmission. It’s a rigorous drive through mountains and deserts and some areas that aren’t particularly safe for breaking down. Will the transmission be adequately repaired? Will we end up stranded on either side of the border with a complicated and expensive repair job and no where to get it fixed? Only God knows. It’s not for me to worry about. So, I’m not worrying about it. Can we say, “I’m concerned about it”? OK, I am concerned about it. Of course, transmissions are no match for our great God. So, what’s to be concerned about? God’s not worried. If He’s not worried, then what right do I have to take on such a lofty approach to the “concerns”? We all know the answer to that, don’t we?
“Second Honeymoon”…so what does all this post have to do with the title?
I obviously haven’t gotten to that yet…stay tuned for Part 2!