I pray you had a wonderful Christmas and a joyful celebration of bringing in this new year of 2014! The Lord blessed me abundantly over the last several weeks, and I’d love to share several of the ways He’s done that. So, I read the above quote by Pedro Arrupe earlier in December and was deeply struck by how straightforward and simply it put my life into perspective. I thought a lot about the challenges I faced and the ways I’ve grown spiritually over the last semester. I recognized that I approach situations differently, and the way I use my time has changed as my relationship with God has continued to deepen. Truly, what we are in love with affects absolutely everything in our life. This knowledge has prompted me to ask myself the question frequently, “Camille, what are you captivated by today; what is affecting your approach to this day?”
A fresh blanket of snow to begin the Christmas break…
We left West Virginia and spent a few days in Columbus, OH for semester evaluations and some staff time before heading to our homes. I was so excited to get back to Texas and away from the cold winter that had been descending on us, beautiful as it was. I was also very much looking forward to spending time with close friends and catching up on the past several months with everyone. It was such a wholesome time; so much laughter, wonderful conversations, sharing meals and stories, lots of coffee, some thrifty discoveries, and many nights staying up way too late! Here’s some photo highlights from the couple weeks in San Marcos:
A great joy – music and laughter with friends
A beautiful view and a classy time – wine tasting
I couldn’t have come across a more perfect sign!
Christmas Eve Mass!
Catching up with Josue and hearing about his first semester in seminary!
Jaclyn and I found a new coffee shop!
Mandatory – Lolita’s breakfast tacos.
The time seemed to fly by, of course! After celebrating the New Year with much more music, a campfire, shooting off a canon, and a few games of rock-stack, I packed up my suitcase again and headed to the airport for our SPO Mission Staff Retreat in Kansas. Thus began quite an adventure of traveling… oh my goodness! I flew with 3 other SPO missionaries from San Antonio to Houston, where we were joined by 3 more. While en route from Houston to Kansas, our plane was emergency landed in Oklahoma City because of some issue with the plane. They never told us exactly what the problem was, but we made it safely to the ground and eventually boarded another aircraft to finish the journey to Kansas City. The staff retreat was so incredible – getting to see the other missionaries I haven’t seen since August, hearing what was going on in the other SPO chapters across the nation, and coming together for several powerful talks and discussion sessions. Then, due to the inclement weather that was coming our way, those of us traveling to Ohio left early Sunday morning to get ahead of the storm for the drive back. Well, at least that was our intention! The car I was traveling in got caught right smack in the middle of it! The 4 of us (John, Will, Alissa, and I) certainly had an adventure that day! The roads weren’t plowed very well, and visibility wasn’t the best either – but we were going along quite smoothly for the first 6 hours of the trip.
Then, the real fun began! HAHA! It was around 1pm and we decided to exit for lunch. The other vehicle we were in a caravan with had gotten ahead of us about an hour, and we knew we weren’t going to catch up with them to eat together, plus we were all hungry. So, we got off the highway and pulled up to the stoplight, behind a semi… who happened to be stuck. We backed up to let a snowplow in ahead of us to push the semi through the intersection, and then we pulled up to the light. It turned green, and we went forward… for about 10 feet. The 3 of us (all except the driver) immediately jumped out to push the car through, and we were in the clear. Much to our disappointment, practically every food place was closed but we finally found an open Wendy’s, which was only available to order by drive-through. On our way through the parking lot to order, we got stuck again, and got out for the second time to push the car. We got our food, all was good, we were on our way back out to the road, and guess what? Yep, we got stuck again! This time, some very nice people helped us get back on the road, and thanks to the awesome skill of our driver, we made it to our next stop: the gas station. After filling up, we realized the snow in front of us was too thick, so we pushed the car out yet again. Maintaining momentum is key when driving in town, going through stoplights, and getting back on the highway… which our fabulous driver accomplished well! All were in very good spirits, and we were laughing about what an adventure this trip was so far. Oh, little did we know…
Shortly thereafter, the low tire pressure light came on showing the rear left tire at 21 PSI. That’s not good! We stared at the dashboard as the numbers dropped to 20…19…18…17 in the span of about 5 minutes, as we’re all searching for the next exit and gas station to pull into. Well, none of the exits had been plowed recently, so we couldn’t get off the highway. Time seemed to move in slow motion in my mind; we are all running through various options and figuring out what we can do. We slowed down in hopes that a snow plow would catch up to us, allowing us to pull over onto a cleared shoulder. Traffic was steadily passing us by, our hazards were steadily ticking through more minutes, the tire pressure steadily continued to drop. At 6 PSI, there was nothing left to do except get out of the way of traffic as much as possible and stop the car.
So, there we were on the side of the road making a plan of action: as fast as we could, transfer all our luggage from the trunk to inside the car, then John & Will would change the tire. OK, go! Alissa and I gave our gloves and hats to the guys, since their winter gear was mostly packed in suitcases. The wind was howling by, snow was swirling everywhere, and I think it must have been close to negative-40-something outside with the wind chill. Yikes! Inside the car, we started making phone calls to ask for prayers and let other staff know what was going on. Then, Alissa and I didn’t know what else to do except pray – for the traffic going around us to go slower, for the safety of the guys out there, for the weather to calm down, anything we could think of. 15-20 minutes later, the guys transfer the luggage back to the trunk, jump in the car, and crank up the heater. What’s the update? The lug nuts are frozen on the wheel, and there’s no possible way to change the tire. Alright, new plan: call the closest towing company. For the next hour, we were pretty much on the phone constantly… with towing places, people who were calling us back for updates, the car rental company’s roadside assistance, our mission directors, looking up nearby towns, possible hotels, etc… At one point, there was a lull in the communication, no progress was being made, the towing places were either booked or only responding to semi trucks, and Will noticed an OnStar button on the rearview mirror. We laughed, ‘Are you serious!?’ and pushed the button.
The automated voice came through the speakers, “Welcome to OnStar, your services are not currently activated. Please press the button again to continue.” So, we did. “This vehicle is not registered for OnStar services. In case of an emergency, we will not be able to assist you.” Boy, we laughed for a while after that.
Back to all seriousness though, we finally secured a tow truck to come get us, but the roads in their town were only just getting plowed, so it would be another hour before they could reach us. Well, nothing to do but wait, and make more update phone calls and texts. The other vehicle in our caravan had planned to stay where they were and get a hotel, but there was no way we would make it to where they were, so we searched for any lodging close to us. John found a sweet deal on Hotwire and booked a reservation. True to their word, the tow truck, flashing lights ablaze, pulls up around 4:30pm. After quite a bit of trial, the car finally got pulled atop the tow truck platform. Apparently, the wind had packed the snow so tightly in the wheel wells during the time we were sitting there, that the car wouldn’t budge forward. But, it eventually gave way, and we were headed to the shop!
The towing company also happened to operate a tire shop, so they had the powerful tools necessary to get the tire off, find the puncture, pull out whatever was in there, patch it up, and put it back on. This was the massive chunk of metal that had caused our afternoon of adventure:
Good to go, we begin heading to the hotel. We turn off the road, we are so close now, we can see the glorious sign of Best Western, and we come upon 2 stuck vehicles and a snowplow blocking the road. Well, here we go again! The 4 of us jump out to push a stranded car with Tennessee plates and with much effort, get it into the clear. The snowplow goes towards the hotel and we follow behind in the freshly cleared path, only to see a line of headlights coming towards us down the one-car-width road. The snow plow begins to turn around to plow another lane, and we see it sink as it rolls over the corner of a curb. Oh dear goodness, what’s next? After 10 minutes, we applaud as the snowplow gets free and we can continue on our way. We come upon the Tennessee car, which has gotten stuck again… so 3 of us jump out to help it get loose. They start to go forward again, and we get behind our car to help it along too. By this time, we are close enough to the hotel that we just ran behind our moving car, raising our fists into the air with shouts of victory and cheering. It definitely felt like we had just accomplished a great feat! But, alas our windshield had frozen almost completely and our driver couldn’t really see the distinction of where the road was drive-able or not. Going around a little curve landed our car in a nice drift, and we see the Tennessee car is stuck again, but so so close to the parking lot. John, Alissa, and I run up to push it through, then they head in through the welcoming doors to check in to the rooms. I jog back over to our car to start rocking it out of the drift, and the Tennessee guy comes running up to help. We successfully free it, and the journey comes to an end!
Pulling our luggage out of the car, we realize that none of the restaurants in the town are open, and we only have what’s left of the snacks from that morning to eat for dinner. The whole situation is simply comical to us. Oh well! We chow down on some fruit, granola bars, and donuts, watch Star Wars, and are all glad that the day is finally done. Woohoo!
I’d just like to bring this quote back, because it ties in completely to being aware of how the Lord affects everything. God’s providence was so evident through every aspect of our traveling adventures: We had just filled up with gas and were able to have the car going and the heater on while we were stranded for those few hours – everyone had just eaten lunch – a tow truck was available and did get us out – the tire got fixed easily – we got a great deal on the hotel – there were no injuries to anyone – our spirits stayed high through the whole adventure. The Lord is so good!
I am very much looking forward to this coming semester, and I am excited to continue to share with you all the ways God is changing the lives of these students! God Bless y’all!