I got out, popped the hood, and looked for the big on/off switch. Did you know there is no big on/off switch on 2002 Chevy Astro Vans?
Sarah climbed a low hill behind the van in a vain effort to get some cell reception, but, even though we were stranded, we had the good fortune to break down on the 160 acres of land owned by Mr. Don Moore. Shortly after taking the above picture, his fully operable pickup truck rolled up to investigate what was wrong. He ended up offering to drive me down to a mechanic in Hemet while Sarah and the kids stayed with the van. I didn't like leaving Sarah and the kids all by themselves on the side of the highway, but we really didn't have a lot of options at that point.
I regret not taking a picture of my new friend, Don Moore, because he was a real stand up guy about the whole thing and also a really big help. On the way to the mechanic Don needed to stop to put some gas in his truck. So he pulled into a gas station and I decided that since I was back in civilization I would fish Sarah's cell phone out of my pocket and call our friends the Whites. This is the sort of situation when you discover who your closest friends are. There was never any question who we would call- the Whites. Kind of too bad for Josh and Emily, but they're stuck with us. I got a hold of Emily who, as luck would have it, was just about to head off the hill with Josh to meet a friend for dinner in Hemet. She graciously offered to come down in two vehicles and leave us with their fully operable Honda Pilot. That was awesome!!! (The three exclamation marks kind of awesome!!!) No sooner had I hung up the phone with Emily then I received a call from our friend, Randy Erlandson (pictured above). Randy, who we know from church, said that he had happened upon my family and was going to stay with them until I could get back. Whew! That was a relief. Just as I finished talking with Randy, Don, climbed back up into the truck and I gave him the update- My friends were bringing a vehicle down from Idyllwild for us and another friend, a former police officer who we know from church, was waiting with my wife and kids until I could get back to them. He looked at me incredulously, and asked "That all happened while I was pumping gas?" "Uh-huh." Then he added, "That's the way it should be, you know?" I was filled with a warm gratitude for our friends and for their testimony to that man. Being a part of the body of Christ is a wonderful thing.
In those first few moments of silence after you've coasted to the side of the road, but before you form an action plan, your mind is spinning, trying to get some traction, trying to settle on a viable plan. How are we going to make this okay with a broken down van? On a desolate stretch of road? Without cell reception? With four kids in the back? We didn't even have a stroller! I feel very bad for those lonely people who go through this sort of thing alone. Thank God for friends like the Whites and Randy! Thank God for good-samaritan strangers like Don Moore! Thank God for a wife like Sarah!
Really, all in all, it was a very positive night. We feel very blessed. It's God's van.