Tales From St. Louis (or, GPS is never wrong, is it?)
Yeah, I know it’s been over a month now since the Youth Group Trip to St. Louis, but we ran out of time for my report during that Sunday service, and I said that I’d write something about the trip in a newsletter article, so… here it is.
My crew was given the “official” name of “Crew Number 2.” I don’t know why we were given that name, except that there were thirteen different crews, and someone had to own the number 2 moniker. In addition to myself, the group consisted of one other male and four females. All of the kids were fourteen years old, or younger. To myself, I called the group, “Teenage Mayhem.”
I knew that I was in for a challenging week on the first day. Picture this… Me and a rental van full of teenagers, only two of which come from the same church group, so all of us are relatively unknown to one another. It’s Monday morning. It’s already hot, and the sun is barely up. As we begin, I ask our organizer to pull out our map from the information packet so that we can get to our job-site. She locates the map and hands it off to me, the driver, saying, “I’m not very good with these.” At this point, I’m already driving down the road with no place to pull off, so I glance at the directions and interpret them as telling us to drive South on I-270. It would later come to light that we were to have gone East on I-170. Whoops! At that, I dug my brand-new Garmin GPS out of the storage compartment and asked the organizer if she could program the address of our work site into the GPS. She did. When she placed the unit onto the dash and it located our position, the machine commanded me to “EXIT NOW!” I responded. I swear I checked the right-side mirror, but I also know that the organizer was still adjusting into her seat from having positioned the GPS. Whatever the reason, my lane-change was greeted with loud noises coming from the silver car that had been cruising along in the lane beside me and was now honking and vigorously applying his or her brakes! Having safely exited, we crawled through the lovely community of Bellefontaine at speeds reaching upwards of 30 MPH. Needless to say, we were late to our first job assignment.
The rest of that first day went fairly well. We worked inside, in air-conditioning, painting a lady’s porch, the ceilings of two of her rooms, and masking off the walls of those rooms for paint later the next day. The trip “home” that afternoon and back to the work-site the next day were uneventful, but the shadows of trouble from that first morning carried over into our second day. I thought things were going well. It looked like we might finish with this lady’s house by day’s end. At our lunch break, I received a call saying that we should clean up. We were done.
As it turns out, there was a disagreement between our resident and “Carl,” our agency contact person. Carl had told the lady that the light grey paint that she purchased would cover over her dark blue walls with no problem. Reality had proven Carl wrong. We cleaned up everything as best we could. My group was disheartened. No one wanted to leave this woman’s house with half-grey, half-blue walls. Carl told the group that it wasn’t their fault, nonetheless, with time to kill before we could return “home,” I took the group out for ice cream. I’d pre-programmed Ted Drew’s Frozen Yogurt into the Garmin, and she led us straight there. It was a good ending to a bad day.
Day three was split between two jobs. In the morning we went to a lady’s home where a previous work-group had been unable to finish the job. We worked hard painting her front and back porch, and we were finished before lunch. Carl met us after our lunch and devotion break and we went to another part of the city where a woman needed her fence painted. There was just enough time left in that work-day to sand the fence and get it ready for painting. Coming back from that site, the GPS led us off on a wild-goose chase. I was driving down I-55, near the Benton Park neighborhood, when out-of-the-blue the Garmin commanded me to “EXIT NOW.” Remember, I’d heard that one before. This time I was certain to check my rear-view mirrors and then exit in an orderly manner. Garmin had me turn right, then left, then proceed five blocks, only to turn right onto the entry ramp of I-55, again! Yes, for no apparent reason, the GPS sent us on some sort of a detour. That was when my group began to pray for deliverance for the Garmin GPS.
Day four we spent painting the fence. It was so hot. Heat index records were set. The kids spent more time playing with water from a hose “cleaning” up the equipment than actually working. Who could blame them?
All told, it was a productive week. We worked on three job-sites and did good work at each. The kids grew close together, as should the “family of God.” They were sad to leave on the last day.
Altogether, there were two major GPS detours that week. One that I can explain, and another that I can not. Life is like that, isn’t it? Sometimes the things we trust, those that we follow, can lead us down an unexpected path. Often there is no apparent reason for the detour, except that the unexplained and unexpected usually leads us deeper into prayer. Perhaps that’s the only reason necessary.
How about you? Are you in the middle of some unanticipated detour in life? Are you uncertain why life is taking you in the direction you’re going? When was the last time you prayed? My Global Positioning System may have lead me astray, but God’s Prayer System has yet to fail. Why don’t you give it a try?
Praying for you,