Friday, August 31, 2012

Lessons on the Mission Field: Flexibility!

After going on any mission trip, you quickly learn that the motto of any missionary is, “Be flexible!” I used to think I was as flexible as rubber, moving with any environment; having the ability to snap back into place after. I don’t know if it is having kids, being so busy it dictates a closely kept schedule, or simply better self-awareness, but now I think my flexibility is a little more akin to steel. Steel is still flexible mind you, but only after being subjected to intense heat (a whopping 2700° F according to my friend Cha Cha). This flexibility and our mettle was tested on our very first assignment as new missionaries: move to San Diego.

The Plan: Pack stuff we didn’t need during the weeks before Sunday August 5, our moving date. Then have a garage sale on Saturday morning, August 4. Pack everything we weren’t taking into the storage pod except for beds and what we were taking to San Diego. Then Sunday morning we’d go get the trailer my Dad had brought his truck to tow and pack it with everything we were taking to San Diego. We’d also pack up the beds and couches into the pod and then hopefully leave around noon at the latest.

Come Saturday, I was so ready to get it all done that I decided we should go get the trailer and pack that day so we could make sure it all fit and leave earlier on Sunday. My dad and I left at about 1 p.m. to go pick up it up about 15 minutes away. When we got to the U-Haul store we filled out all of the paper work, pulled the trailer over and hooked it all up. Then we checked the lights. Tail lights…check. Brake lights…check. Left turn signal…nothing. Right turn signal…nothing. Not good. We spent about 20 minutes trouble shooting only to find out something was probably wrong with the electric connections from my Dad’s truck. They wouldn’t rent us the trailer unless it was working meaning we’d have to find a way to get it fixed if we wanted to get our things to San Diego with us.

By this time, it was almost 2:00 p.m. on Saturday. We called three different auto electric places only to find out most of them all close on the weekends. I called the place we usually take our cars to find out they do electric, but were closing at 2:00 and couldn’t do it until Monday either. We then decided it probably wouldn’t happen today and if we wanted to leave by tomorrow morning we’d have to fix it ourselves. So, we headed over to Autozone, Kragen or whatever we could find to try to get parts and tools neither of us had. While there, we were telling the worker our problem and he mentioned an RV repair shop down the street that might be open. I looked it up on my trustee YP app only to find it was closed. However, I did see one other option on the other side of town and decided to give them a call. They were open until 3:00!
Now being about 2:20, we told them we’d be there in 10 minutes (really 15, but they didn’t need to know that). We ran out of the store and rushed across town through the normal Santa Cruz summer traffic. We got to the shop at about 2:35. They looked at the connections and found they were tattered and shot. By the grace of God, we were able to get it fixed. I say by the grace of God not only because it was the last place open and we would have had to either try to fix it ourselves or wait until Monday. It turns out that they don’t even usually do repairs on Saturdays, but they had a special project that day so that they just “happened” to have brought someone in from Los Banos (an hour and half away) that day!  He wasn’t even supposed to be there! So we went back, got the trailer, went home and packed it all up. 

All this to say, my Dad and I had quite the conversation about what it meant to be flexible and just to put circumstances into God’s hands. I was pretty upset and frustrated through the process showing me again that I am more like steel than rubber. I hope that I’ll learn to keep my cool a little more next time and trust God that he is in control. I’m sure I’ll have many more opportunities to practice this spiritual discipline in this next season with Chi Alpha.

When was a time when you had to change plans and lost your cool only to find out later it all worked out? Maybe even better than you had planned on your own? Were you able to trust God? Why or why not?
The rest of the story? To be continued…

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