By all accounts, Friday was a complete disaster.
We have an annual tradition of taking our staff* to Warren Dunes on Lake Michigan at some point toward the end of each summer. Friday was the day and the temperatures were insanely high. We all piled into one 15-passenger van with no air conditioning and one car with sporadic air conditioning and departed around 10. After a stop for gas, we were on the road and didn't look back. Jack came with us and was so excited to go to the beach with the counselors for one last day of summer fun with them.
Here's a run down of the day.
11:30 a.m. About 40 minutes from our destination, we noticed smoke coming from the van and we had to make an emergency stop. As we were exiting the interstate, the temperature gauge hit the danger zone and the power steering quit. Fortunately, we managed to land safely in the parking lot of a Pizza Hut.
11:45 We treated everyone to the pizza buffet while Kyle tried to figure out what we needed to do.
12:30 A mechanic tells us it will take 2 - 3 hours to repair the van. Fantastic. We stayed at the Pizza Hut talking, laughing and playing games. Our waitress, Diane, was friendly and hospitable, which resulted in a nice tip for her.
2:30 Kyle was able to get a loaner vehicle. We used it to take everyone to the nearest mall.
3;15 We had an impromptu mall scavenger hunt. I'm pretty sure the rules of the hunt broke several mall policies, but everyone had fun and no one got kicked out. The team that took Jack with them got 20 bonus points.
4:15 Finally, we were on the road again. We asked if people wanted to head home or keep going to the beach and everyone seemed determined to get to the dunes, so we did it!
5:00 The van started smoking again and we noticed that something was leaking and spraying our windshield.
5:15 So, we pulled off at the rest stop and determined that the van was NOT, in fact, going to make it to the beach. We called for people to come rescue us, but it would be hours before they could be there. We threw down beach towels and got out the frisbee at the rest stop.
5:45 It probably wasn't the greatest idea in the world, but we decided to use our one working car to start shuttling people to the Dunes. 30 minutes there, 30 minutes back. 3 trips. As I left with the first group, the "check engine" light came on in the one good car. Awesome. Turns out that it needed oil, which we managed to get on our way home, much later that night.
9:15 We're finally all at the beach together. The sun had set and as we're walking to join the rest of the group for our "picnic lunch" dinner, we saw lightning in the distance. All we could do is laugh. It was at that point that we realized the park was closing at 10. Our rides weren't going to be here until after 10. Shoot.
9:20 We took this picture to prove that we did, in fact, make it to the beach.
9:25 With dinner in my hand, I started shuttling people OUT of the park to the McDonalds near the exit at which we would be picked up.
10:15 Our rescue vehicles picked us up at McDonalds. We still had to get gas, put oil in the car and stop to get the van.
I swear to you, I'm not making any of this up.
But here's where it gets good . . . we had an AWESOME day. I don't think I'll ever forget it. We literally just enjoyed each other's company all day because there was absolutely nothing else to enjoy. With most other groups of people, it would have been miserable. We all commented on how much fun we had, we laughed when things broke down, encouraged each other when we were tired and sweaty and just had fun. Even when I put Jack to bed that night (er . . . morning), he commented on how much fun he had. I asked him what his favorite part was and he said, "going to the beach." We really did spend the whole day "going to the beach."
On Friday, I learned an important lesson about unity. This remarkable group of people taught me that true unity comes from the love of God flowing out of us into the people around us. Their joy was contagious on Friday. Loving each other is about more than just liking them when things are going well. It's more than just the meaningful tasks we do together or how interested we are in the same things. It's about serving each other and being "for" each other even when life hands us lemons.
We definitely made the proverbial lemonade on Friday.
*Kyle and I are program directors at a youth camp and supervise a staff of 15 - 20 college students each summer.