I look behind me and you're there, then up ahead and you're there, too - - your reassuring presence, coming and going. This is too much, too wonderful - - I can't take it all in!
- - Psalm 139:5-6 (MSG)
Well folks, sorry for the long delay in updating our blog, but I have very good reasons for this. Before I get to the wonderful things we have done since you last heard from us, let me tell you our tale of woe and why the above Scripture is my selected "thought for the week".
Our story begins in late September when we have to take our RV in to the Redwood factory for some repairs that were needed due to a structural issue. Redwood is located in the thriving metropolis of Topeka, Indiana - - right in the middle of Amish farm country. While bucolic in it's appearance, traveling to and from this location had its challenges. First, there are no direct routes anywhere. Every road in that area of the country is just about 1 1/2 lanes wide and very winding. Secondly, there are little "bombs" all along the way, left behind from the Amish buggies that traverse these roadways. So, as you can imagine, hauling a 16,000 pound, 8-foot wide trailer through this part of the country was challenging and messy. Nonetheless, we dropped the trailer at Redwood on a Friday afternoon and headed to my dad's for the weekend. We traveled from Detroit back to Topeka on Sunday night so that we could meet with the warranty rep from both Redwood and Lippert (the frame manufacturer) on Monday morning. So that's one trip into and out of Topeka and then back to Topeka in one weekend. Trailer scheduled to be completed, and our trailer could be picked up, the following Monday.
After the meeting, we headed to Toledo and stayed with Steve's sister and brother-in-law, Bev and Larry Miller, who are such gracious hosts (you will find out why in a minute). On the way there, we stopped to take Steve's mom to lunch and visit with her for a bit. On our way back from lunch, Steve's truck completely lost power to the throttle. The truck would start and go into gear, but we could not get any power to the engine. Thankfully we were a mere mile away from Connie's house so we idled all the way back there to call a tow truck. What a hassle - - we were moving so slowly that we were passed by a squirrel! After we arrived at Connie's, for some odd reason, the truck "fixed itself" but we were not willing to trust this instant repair, so we took it to the local Dodge dealer for repairs. Thanks to Bev and Larry, we had a free car for the time the truck was in the shop, which was good because we had a ton of friends and family to visit while we were in town. Later in the week, after we picked up the truck, we headed to my dad's to visit with my side of the family and some of my friends from Visteon. My dad is such a sweet guy and always willing to house us vagabonds when we are in town.
On Sunday night we drove down to Columbus so that we could be present for the birth of our latest grandchild - - Tytus Landry! We had dinner with our youngest son, Stevie, and his wife AIme that evening in anticipation of his birth in the morning. Aime was going to be induced so we were pretty sure October 3 was going to be his birthday. While at dinner, Aime described how she was feeling and I instantly knew that she was already in labor. Later that evening/early in the a.m. her water broke and she went into full blown contractions. Unfortunately for her, what started out as a speedy path to giving birth, stalled later in the morning. In the meantime, all hell was breaking loose in the waiting room. Sadly, there was a young woman who was brought into the hospital as a result of an overdose. She was still "alive" but technically brain dead. As the family was deciding what to do, a fight breaks out - - it started with a lot of yelling and swearing and escalated into pushing and shoving which required security to call the Sheriff. During all this, Aime is struggling to get the baby to deliver and was hearing all this ruckus. This went on for hours! Finally, everything calmed down on both fronts and Tytus was born at 4:39 in the afternoon. He's gorgeous and we were all excited. The nurses were especially happy about the baby because they, being ICU nurses, very rarely get to deal with happy situations. Some of them were even crying when he was born. How precious.
So, okay, with the baby's birth behind us, Steve and I head back to Topeka, Indiana (this is the third time that we will be in Indiana at this point), and pick up our trailer. Redwood did a fantastic job and we were very pleased. Unfortunately, we traveled a mere 8 miles from the plant before we had another issue - - the left rear wheel had started to smoke. Now remember, we are in the middle of Amish country so our options are limited. Steve calls the warranty guy from Redwood who comes out to check the rig and he discovers that the entire wheel assembly has an issue. He then calls Lippert (the manufacturer of the axle assembly) and they drive over to make the necessary repairs. Thankfully we found a parking lot to pull the rig into because at this point, we were on the side of a two lane highway with vehicles and heavy trucks passing us at 60-65 mph. Anyway, Lippert discovers that the entire axle needs to be replaced so he makes the necessary repairs that will get us and our rig to their factory which is 30 miles west of the Redwood facility we just left. So, here is our fourth stop in Indiana!!! We get to the facility and decide that rather than simply replacing the damaged axle, we would upgrade both axles to a heavier version and to replace all the bushings as well. We are going to be out west next year and Steve felt, for safety reasons, this was the right thing to do. Repairs will take yet another week and were expected to cost around $5,000. Major UGH!!!
As has become our pattern lately, we head to Bev and Larry's and my dad's for another visit while we waited for the trailer to be fixed. It was nice to be able to see both off our parents and spend more time with them because we will not be back in town for about a year. While at my dad's, we received a call from Lippert and what was originally going to be $5,000 in repair costs was reduced to $1,700 - - they were willing to not only discount the axles we purchased, but they didn't charge us for the parts or labor for the time that was spent by their service department while we were on the side of the road when the issue first arose. Steve and I were marveling at how God had us in His hands throughout this whole ordeal. First, the issue with the axle was going to happen no matter what (as things in life generally do) but it happened in a location where we could get immediate assistance from the manufacturer. We could have been on the side of the road in Denver or Portland and then what would we have done? Secondly, Steve was prompted to check his mirror and saw the smoke so he stopped immediately. He had no real reason to check his mirror other than a little prompting from the back of his mind. Thirdly, there was a parking lot available to us about 100 yards from where we broke down. Other than that parking lot, there was nothing on either side of the road but farms and driveways for several miles in either direction. Had we driven that trailer much further, the wheel would have fallen completely off the axle and into oncoming traffic which could have seriously hurt someone. Additionally, the situation took place near family that could provide us housing and a vehicle for nearly 3 weeks. Lastly, the issues were handled by a company that was very responsive in terms of customer service as well as generous with the discounts they provided. Steve and I are so grateful for the blessings that He provides us. Not only did we just welcome a perfect and beautiful baby grandson into the world, but throughout this whole trailer and truck ordeal, He kept us safe. If all of us would just take a moment, every day, and look for God's hand in our lives, we would see Him everywhere! Thank you Lord!
Ok, so now on to the good stuff. As mentioned above, Tytus was born and we are headed to Colorado Springs to spend some time with him before we land in Arizona for the winter. Check out these pictures of our precious boy! He was 19 3/4 inches long and 6 pounds 15 ounces at birth. Mom, baby and dad are all doing well and adjusting to their new lives, although Tytus has his days and nights mixed up a bit.
We did some cool stuff since we last wrote to you. First, we stopped in Kentucky to see the Creation Museum (www.creationmuseum.com) and The Ark Encounter (www.arkencounter.com). Both are the owned by Ken Hamm who is the founder of Answers in Genesis and provide an excellent explanation for the Creation story in the Bible as well as the story of Noah's Ark and how that could have realistically occurred. (PICTURES HERE) The displays and artwork in both locations were so well done and really bring both stories to life. I cannot do either location justice with this blog so I recommend making a road trip to Kentucky and visiting both for yourselves. This would make a great Youth, Children's or Adult ministry outing as these two museums are about 45 minutes from each other. The Creation Museum also offers a few lectures on specific topics and has a great planetarium show. The Ark Encounter just opened in July, but over the next couple of years this location is going to expand into a Bible-based theme park to include the walled city of Jerusalem, an area that will teach about the 10 plagues of Exodus, the Tower of Babel, and other unique experiences that will help to bring other Bible stories to life.
So after our fifth trip to Indiana to pick up our trailer after the axle repairs, we headed west for our first stop in Iowa (the home of Cindy Salvanorich and Melinda Means). We stayed in Davenport, which is a cute little town. We took a drive over to LeClaire where the "Antique Archeology" shop is located - - this is the store where the guys from "American Pickers" sell the items they find in various garages and barns around the country. If you haven't seen that show, check it out. It's on the History Channel and is very interesting. From Iowa, we headed to Kansas City (home of Don DeWeese) and then will go directly west into Colorado Springs where our new grandbaby lives. We will be visiting with them for a week and then head into Arizona.
So, that's it. As you can see we had quite the ordeal since you last heard from us. We lacked the comforts of WiFi for most of that time which prevented us from updating the website as well. I cannot believe how dependent on the internet Steve and I have become. It’s kind of sad, actually.
Until next time, take care and count your blessings. Take a moment or two and look for God's working in your lives - - whether it is through acknowledging a blessing He has bestowed upon you or by recognizing that He is there with you through a difficulty you are facing. We serve an awesome God!
Love you muchly guys,
Lauren (and Steve too)