Monday, October 26, 2009

Luck or Providence

roadsideIt was the summer of 1990 and Iraq had just invaded Kuwait, although we didn't know it at the time. We had been camping in the mountains of Colorado for the past week with our Youth Group from church. Real camping--no radios, no TV, no newspaper. Just tents, sleeping bags, lanterns, our Bibles and beauty of the Colorado mountains just outside of Leadville (elevation 10,152 feet).

We were on our way home and as we neared Hays, KS, we suddenly lost power steering. It didn't take us long to discover we had thrown a belt on the van we were driving. Our caravan consisted of five 15-passenger vans at capacity and we were about five miles from town. We split the kids up into the remaining four vans and headed into Hayes in hopes of finding a replacement belt.

We pulled off I-70 at the first exit and found a convenience store that just happened to be right across the street from a service station. Sadly however, the station was closed. Now, at this time, there wasn't much in Hays. It's been years since I've been through there, so that may have changed, but at this particular time, our choices were the moment looking non-existent. We figured we might as well get something to drink, grab a local phonebook and start looking for garages that might have a replacement fan belt.

As we entered the store, I glanced at the headlines of the paper on the rack next to the cashier. "Bill! Iraq invaded Kuwait," I shouted to one of the other Youth sponsors. The cashier look at me with a puzzled look and said, "Where have you guys been? On a mountain somewhere? They did that yesterday!" "Matter of fact," I answered, "We have. In fact, we're on our way home and we've shredded the belt on our van. Any chance you know who owns the garage across the street?" "Yeah," the cashier replied flatly, "but Ron closed around 4:00; he closes early on Friday afternoons. Won't be back 'til tomorrow morning." Not what we wanted to hear...and then it happened.

As we stood there trying to decide our next move, a vehicle pulled up into "Ron's" garage, and a man we assumed to be Ron, walked over to the huge sign at the edge of the property and began to change the gasoline prices. We ran across the street...hoping...praying. Seems Ron figured with all that fighting in the oil countries, he stood to make a little profit, he told us. "What can I do for ya?" he finally asked. "We need a belt like this for our van that's sitting on I-70," someone stated holding out what was left of our shredded fan belt. "'Fraid I'm not going to be able to help ya," Ron said. "That's a Dodge belt and we don't carry that size. Everybody 'round here drives Fords."

"Could you at least look?" we asked, actually more begged. "Won't do any good," he said, "but I'll look." As we walked into the garage, we noticed the parameter of the building was lined with belts of all sizes and shapes. Ron explained: "Ya see, you need a "such-and-such" size belt and we just don't stock those. It's kind of an odd size." Looking up at one area of the wall, he continued, "If I did have one, it would be...right..." There was a long pause, then Ron nearly whispered: "There." Our eyes followed Ron's and hanging there all by itself on the wall was a belt. Our belt. "Well I'll be danged!" Ron exclaimed. "I've never stocked that size or style belt! How in the heck did that get there?!" "It was probably my part-time help," he said as he grabbed a long stick to retrieve the belt. "I had him do the ordering last week, and he must have ordered the wrong one."

"No," someone said. "He ordered the right one."

We paid Ron, left him scratching his head about the belt and counting his gasoline profits. We all piled into the vans, made the trip back out to our stranded van and a short time later, we were heading back home...with our new belt that Ron normally doesn't stock. We know Who was really doing the ordering the previous week...and He works full-time.


nacotaco said...

Yeah God!!.....Thanks Keith, enjoyed the story!!

Keith said...

You're welcome, Nancy.