Monday, September 1, 2014

The Adventure Begins

My mission to San Antonio is covert: am not at liberty to discuss in it this public venue. Suffice it to say that I am on an adventure, the next chapter I had asked God to open.  Exciting and new.

I AM at liberty to discuss my relocation to this southern city. We took to the road, Ivy and I, a week ago. We’ve done this drive before. Our preferred route, via interstate highways, takes us to Lonoke, Arkansas on the first day. That little city is about 20 miles east of Little Rock and is just over half way to the final destination. Right as you turn off, there are 4 nice dog-friendly hotels that serve a warm breakfast to its human guests so, as in the past, we planned to arrive before dark, get a good night’s sleep, rise and eat, and then hit the road again.

That part went by flawlessly…even in Illinois, the driver did not get stopped for speeding. When we commenced on day two, after I had filled up my tank, I started to click away on Ms. Garmin, GPS, when she began to flash something. What? I don’t know what. I had on sunglasses, not readers. I could make out a middle area that might have said CANCEL. Not sure. But after several punches, she settled down to show my route back on to the interstate so we were off.

STILL not positive what the GPS was saying but I am pretty sure she asked me if I’d prefer to avoid interstates and instead travel on picturesque little roads that wound through east Texas. I believe I nodded that message to Ms. Garmin as electronics are only as smart as those who operate them. And that was my second day drive. As I did not have any other map (!), I didn’t think it wise to freelance. There’s a lot of open space down in Texas. Plus snakes and scorpions if you get lost and venture on foot. I knew that Ms. Garmin had the final address and she also told me when I’d arrive, which was acceptable so I obeyed her as we traveled through Tyler, Plano, and quite a few ‘population 900’ little towns. At one point, I was on the NORTHERN LOOP….Houston? Dallas? Sumpin else?  Don’t know but stayed the course.

I discovered The Texas Pass, a neat little habit down here when you’re driving on 2 lane roads, as I was most of the day. Every so often, a right lane appears and slower vehicles --- trucks and such --- pull to the right, not slowing down, so you can pass. We could use that in Indiana during planting/harvesting seasons.

I discovered lot of traffic lights and when stopped, I could see that many pedestrians wear their weapons on their belts.

When I stopped for gas, I got Yes ma’amed a lot; in the adjacent convenience store, there it was, the 20 foot trough filled with ice and beer, the bottle tops just barely showing. It’s a common sight as you travel into Texas.

And for my long-time readers, I DID get stopped for speeding. He clocked me at 73 in a 70.  Yeah. I think he wanted to check out my car. He certainly wanted a closer look at my license plate. “What state is that from, Ma’am?” (Got a Warning)

Oh, and in fairness to the driver, the speed limits change often and not just in and out of small towns. And the posting signs are few and far between. Further south, you can opt for a toll road and cruise along at 85. I paid that toll.

We arrived, tired and hot, and were greeted by all sorts of special folks. Then a quick night’s sleep and on to the adventure.

I know I said this to several friends: I felt a bit uneasy, uprooting from my cottage for an indeterminate time period. I tried to pack up all that I would need; I had arranged a backup doctor, dentist, hair person, and car repair shop, trying to prepare for all necessities. But I couldn’t really place this nagging feeling until I recognized it from a past time.

When my dad dropped me off at Wheaton College in the fall 0f 1969 (!), he drove away and as I turned to enter my dorm, I realized that for the first time in my life, I was alone. I knew no one. I had no refuge, no friendly face to greet me. It was uncomfortable and it didn’t last: I’ve never been accused of being shy. However, it WAS a new emotion. I felt much the same way as I drove to south Texas.

I have family here but no other acquaintances, certainly no friends. So what? Well, here’s something I discovered this summer. I had spent my entire life, that brief Wheaton moment to the contrary, surrounded by friends. I could find someone to talk to, ride bikes with, walk the path toward, always someone. And I have friends in Winona but what I lacked and knew that I missed: my Christian sisters with whom I could pray and talk and share and learn. Such a simply thing and oh so sweet. A few days before I left Indiana, I was pulling out of my driveway when next door, three young ladies were saying their goodbyes. They formed a circle, held hands and prayed. It surprised me how it made my heart ache. I was tempted to stop the car, get out and join them. Yes, I know it would have been OK, but although I was/am a sister, I was/am a stranger: these were intimate Christian friends.

Philippians 4:19  “And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus,” I know this is true. Right now, my needs involve spiritual nurture. I purposed to find a church. It made sense.

San Antonio is flush with churches. Like so many other things in Texas, most are huge. And though I’m not intimidated by bigness, I wanted…needed…to find one close enough to me that would begin to nurture my heart. I prayed about it and I tell about it here because I know that there are plenty of friends who pray for me.

On Thursday, walking 5 doors down to my place, I saw a man scrubbing an RV. I introduced myself to Frank and his wife Lynn. A quick conversation and I learned that he was newly retired from the chaplain corps so I asked him where they went to church. Smiling, they handed me a card with their churches services. On Sunday, I attended and learned about how we should test the veracity of scripture. I was reminded that the Dead Sea Scrolls confirmed a document from 900 AD with 95% accuracy….the 5% involved spelling and punctuation.  Even back then!

Long story short: God has led me to a church. And soon, a new Christian family.