Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Christmas Break Coincidences

One winter a friend of mine named George and I decided to drive home to Michigan for Christmas break. George wanted to take back an old pick-up because he thought that they were worth more in Michigan than in Oregon. He figured he could make some money by selling it when we got back. So he found a 1945 Dodge pick-up and put a sheet metal canopy over the back in which we could store our stuff and sleep. He also put a stove in there for warmth.

On the day we were to leave George received a letter from his father. In the letter was a check, made out to George, for $127.10. We looked at each other with wonder on our faces trying to figure out why his Dad would send a check for such an odd amount. Stumped, he just folded the check and put it into his shirt pocket.

We were off. There were three cars in our caravan. Two were going to Michigan, while one was turning south at Cheyenne to go to Denver. Just to the east of Pendleton, Oregon, are some very large steep hills, about ten miles of six percent grade. I was driving the car behind the Dodge pick-up. At the top I saw what looked like oil spray out of the rear axel. I pulled in front and stopped the caravan. After inspection we decided that it would not be safe to drive the Dodge any further. One of the young ladies, Judy, had some relatives who lived nearby. She suggested that we stay there while we get the pick-up repaired.

A little further up the road we found someone to replace the axel. After having it towed to the repair guy we discovered that the local junkyard had three axels from 1945 Dodge pick-ups to choose from. Two of them were already out! After picking out the best, we all went over to Judy’s relatives for the next day or so, awaiting the repair.

Judy’s relatives raised beef cattle. We had steak. Did I say we had steak? The meals were tremendous. Soon, the repairs were done and we went over to the shop to get the vehicle and pay for it. George and I were walking together towards the shop office where the repairman was writing out the bill. We both looked at each other with a faith gleam in our eyes and knew what the check from George’s Dad was for. We stood at the window to the office and George said to the guy, as he was finishing adding the column, “Don’t tell me. It’s $127.10 isn’t it?”

“How did you know?” he replied as he turned the clipboard around so George could sign it. Not only was it for $127.10, but the guy took an out of town check, made out to and endorsed by George, for the payment. Did we ever rejoice!

Yet our troubles were not yet over. When we neared Evanston, Wyoming, the truck began to leak oil. The mechanic told us that it was the main seal between the engine and the transmission that needed to be replaced. He wanted to charge us $600. This is the kind of incident that re-coined the phrase “highway robbery”. No way could we afford such an expense. George made a decision. He went and bought a case of oil and a case of STP™. We were going to pour oil through it until we got home. Our plan was to stop every 50 miles or so and put more oil in. I checked it the first time or two and the oil never went down. The oil never went down until we crossed the Mississippi river. Then it used the last quart as we pulled near Port Huron, Michigan. George didn’t tell us that he had spent the last of the money to purchase the oil. What we had in oil was all we could have. Thank you Jesus!

One of the young men on the trip with us was a new Christian named Ramon. A hippie, he smelled like he bathed in patchouli oil. I had met him in Ypsilanti before I had ever met Jesus. That fall he had come down to visit some of us Portland Bible College from Alaska and just recently met the Lord. One night as we walked into a restaurant in Wyoming we asked Ramon what he would do if he ran into some of his old drinking buddies. Has he really put his old life behind? He contemplated his answer for a while. Once inside the restaurant we heard some raucous laughter and someone yelling, “Hey Ramon! You wanna go out and have a few beers?” Against all odds some of his old Alaskan drinking buddies were in that very restaurant, in December, in the middle of Wyoming, when we walked in. Ramon looked surprised and embarrassed. He told the guys after joyfully greeting them that he did not want to go drinking. He came and ate with us instead.

These coincidences are amazing. A friend of mine at our church likes to say that it is odd that when she stops praying those coincidences seem to stop happening. Keep trusting in God and the may those happy happenstances happen!

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