Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Fill 'er Up

As many of you already know, Preston and I have been trying to sell our car. The reason we got Petrona (Our VW Bus) was to sell our car in order to come home for a visit and pay off the dentist (long story...I will explain in another post). We were asking for $5,000 for the car, then we dropped it to $4,800. We bought it for $5,000 and have only been driving it for about 7 months...although a bus had sideswiped us in it! One day the Lord really fell on Preston and let him know that we would be practically giving the car away. That it had been a blessing to us when we needed it and now it would be a blessing to somebody else. A couple days later I had a check up at the dentist office, and he asked about the car. We told him that we would be willing to sell it to him for the remainder of the dental work we owed plus $2,000 so that we could come home for a visit. That night we met him and he took us to his house/church. Apparently my dentist is a Pastor as well, his wife is in the States talking at conferences about leadership in the church. He and a few people from his church were telling us about the value of leadership and sowing into the leaders you have...and how it grows the church and leads to the reproduction of disciples. They were telling us about the apostolic and discipleship making calling God has on their church. Preston and I really loved talking with them about everything God is doing and really felt like God had brought us to this dentist, his house, to make the sell of this car...for a major reason. We just aren't quite sure what that reason is yet. We can really see a friendship growing here and are excited to see what the future holds with this relationship. So there is a very shortened version of the sell of are car and what went into that. And now for Petrona...
Oh, Petrona...she's definitely my girl! When I haven't worked out for a couple days she does me the favor of running out of gas or breaking down so that I can get off my butt and do some work. Or if I'm really hot, again, she has the courtesy to do me the same favor so I can produce more sweat which in turn will cool me down IF a small gust of wind should come...really pushing her gives me vitamin D from the sun, exercise, a tan...See...What did I say? Petrona totally wants to see me healthy and tan! The funny thing is, when she does break down or run out of gas I never really feel hopeless or mad in any way. Even though we have no a/c and 3 kids with us when it's happening. I'm always giving her "at a girls" when shes running smoothly to try to encourage her to continue on this wonderful path. I have really gotten used to the fact that no matter what when you get in Petrona you really never know what is going to happen. I'm sure our friends here think we are completely nuts for selling are good car with a/c for so cheap and using Petrona as our only vehicle, we have been told many times that we are crazy. The thing is, nothing we do is off the cuff. I know it may seem like we're just crazy kids living this crazy "missionary" life style...but we really do pray and listen for what we should do next every time we make decisions. Listen, when we knew we would be living in Nicaragua we always envisioned we would be in something like Petrona, and were very blessed that we had the car for the time we did, and are even more blessed that we could pass that on to somebody who needs it and grow a relationship. Nothing bad has come from the many mishaps with Petrona, in fact we have met amazingly nice people who are always ready and willing to help us in any way possible. I remember the day Preston took me to see Petrona for the first time...I knew that she would be ours and she was going to be something special! And man is she ever. She has taught me the peace of Christ because in every situation with her I have this unexplainable peace. I could go on, but continuing to talk about our bus like a person might actually start to freak some people out and you may even think that in the months we've been here I've completely lost my mind.
So here's the story most of you probably came to the site to see it goes...
Yesterday started much like any other day. I peeled myself out of bed at 5am completely drenched in sweat because of the awful hot weather right now. I splashed some water on my face and did my workout. When I was done with that I started on the mountain of dishes from the day before, I was just too tired to actually do them the night before. I took a shower and prayed that God make the water cool enough so that I wasn't still sweating when I got out (no such luck). As I got dressed I gave Preston a kiss on the cheek and let him know it was time to get up and start the day. Every morning we start the day with an hour coffee time...this is something we've done for years and will continue to do forever. As we had our coffee I hung the clothes on the line to dry. Like I said, a typical morning...although, this wasn't a typical morning because today was the day we had been invited by Doug and Julie Effinger to come spend the day with them at their beach house. We are definitely beach people so we were all over that we just LOVE the Effingers. So we got our bathing suites on, grabbed some towels, sunscreen, ibuprofen (the waves can be brutal and I'm old) and snacks and piled into Petrona for the long journey to the beach. On our way we stopped off at the corner fruit stand to get sliced fruit for breakfast and stopped at the store to get sandwich stuff for lunch. We pulled Petrona into the gas station to feed her big ol' belly. We had just put some gas in the day before so we only put about $10 in. Petrona doesn't have a working gas gauge so Preston marked a stick and that's what we use to see how much gas she needs. Then we were off!
On the way to the beach there wasn't very much traffic even though there was a little road work here and there. We coasted down toward La Boquita (the beach) admiring the beautiful Country we are living in. I looked out at all the hills completely dry and brown and Preston and I discussed how dry it is right now, and how there must be a lot of wild fires out here. You see, people who live in the Country and in the City burn their trash, so some of the places we passed were completely black as far as the eye could see...that made me think wild fire. We were enjoying the drive, it was going well...the roads were smooth everyone and was in a good mood. The occasional, "Are we there yet?" chimed from the back seat, and was usually followed up by some kind of singing or giggling. We continued on past the turn for La Boquita because the Effingers beach house is in a more remote location. At one point a wasp or bee flew into the bus and ended up stinging Preston. We got pulled over once, but once the officer saw me fanning the kids with a flimsy piece of paper, he had pity on us and let us go. A couple more insects with stingers appeared here and there, I was beginning to think there was some kind of nest hidden in our vehicle. The road changed from paved to dirt, dirt to rocky, rocky to potholed, back to dirt and this cycle continued for a while. At one point Preston looked at me and said, "Hmmmm, maybe we should have gotten a little more gas". I remember thinking, well that's not something I want to hear...the last gas station was miles back. Finally, we got to the beach house. We asked the Effingers if there was a gas station anywhere near by, they let us know it was about 25-30 miles away, back in town.
The day was beautiful. We talked, laid in hammocks, ate lunch together, talked some more, went swimming, surfed some waves, sat in rocking chairs, talked some more...Joe and Doug took a walk along the beach and talked while Preston and Raymond road the boogie board and surfed the waves, Caroline just would run in the water then run out with this cute little silly laugh. When we came in (which is an open porch right on the beach) the kids built stuff in the sand and Caroline made sand was fabulous...and all the kids were FULL of sand. As the sun started to set we were longingly looking out at the water thinking, "I WANT TO GO BACK IN!" but we had to head back while we still had some light. We all agreed that we had to do this again, and next time we should stay the night. We showed Doug and Julie how cool Petrona was, Preston checked the gas and said, "There should be more then enough to make it to town"...we all piled in and started the journey home. Doug told us to call if we had any troubles, but we were pretty sure we would be fine. As we drove away I remember thinking, I wish this day never had to end...little did I know it would soon feel like it never WOULD end.
As we started the drive back to town I was thinking, "What was I thinking this morning when I didn't grab a shirt to change into?" The tied knot in the back of my super cute swimsuit was digging deeper and deeper into my back. I could feel a bruise starting to form. Every time I wear this suite I have this problem, you'd think by now I'd just grab an extra shirt. Then my thoughts went from that to a small prayer about Petrona not running out of gas in the middle of nowhere, especially now that it was starting to get dark. Just about this time I hear a spu-spu-spudering sound. Insert Preston, "Oh man, what's happening? come on Petrona....what's going on?" spu-spu-spu...dead! At this moment all I could think was, "Man, I wonder if we're going to eat dinner tonight because I am so hungry right now." This was immediately followed up by an urge to start laughing uncontrollably. It took everything in me to hold back, because I knew if I let lose Preston really might think he married a crazy person, we weren't at the, "this is such a funny story" point of this "adventure" yet. We were about 15 miles from town, we were in the middle of nowhere, it was dark and Petrona had run out of gas. We called the Effingers 3 times but figured they weren't getting service or something. We were in front of some kind of ranch, so we pushed Petrona further off the road and took the 3 tired kids out of the van. I could see a bunch of small fires off in the distance from behind the gate of this ranch. We saw somebody with a flashlight and tried to get their attention, but no such luck. So, we stuck out our thumbs and hoped for a passing car to pick us up. The boys were all too eager to hitch a ride, I kept having to pull them back from the road and tell them to stand behind me. The cars flew past one after another, but nobody seemed to want to pick up a hitch-hiking family of 5 at night. At one point Preston said out loud, "Lord please just send a vehicle to pick us up" I'm talking seconds after Preston uttered these words a truck passed and stopped...Preston ran up to the truck and they agreed to take us to town. We had a bottle that would probably fit $5 of gas in it, so we all piled into the back of this truck. As I got in, the tailgate nearly fell off and I thought, "Oh, great these people are going think I'm completely destroying their truck and kick us out!" The trip into town was a long one, about half way there I started wondering how we were going to get another bottle to put gas in, because what we had would not be enough. The truck we sat in was a work truck and was full of some kind of white sand. Periodically the tail gate would fly open and sand would fly into all of our eyes. At one point Preston put his hand on my leg and said, "I'm sorry honey". I just looked into his eyes and thought to myself, there's not a person in the world I would rather be living this life with. How lucky am I? It doesn't matter what life may throw at us, as long as I have my best friend by my side, it's just another adventure. At no time during this was I scared...just hungry. Then, the truck abruptly came to a stop but we weren't in town and there wasn't a gas station in sight. Thoughts of having to walk the rest of the way ran through my head, but fortunately the driver was being dropped off and his wife took over. When we got into town, the woman dropped us off, and all I could think was, "Thank you God for getting us here".
Now Preston only had $200 cords on him, which is about $10. We walked to a gas station (the woman dropped us off a couple blocks from one) and hoped that they took credit...they didn't. Preston went looking for another bottle to put gas into, and a store owner was nice enough to give him one he had lying around for free. Our plan had been to buy the gas with credit and pay a taxi, if we could find one, to take us back to the van. The gas station didn't take credit, so Preston put $120 cords of gas in a container and went to a nearby clusters of mototaxis. He asked how much it would be to take us back to our van and nobody would go lower than $200 cords. It was quite a ways out (15 miles or so) and exactly the amount both of us thought it would be, so we asked if there was a place with an ATM nearby. Fortunately, there was another gas station near by and Preston was able to get money out and fill the other bottle. The ride back to the van was a long one in the little mototaxi, but felt shorter than the ride to the gas station. Caroline and Raymond fell asleep and Joe was in and out. At one point Preston started to laugh and again I was reminded we are a match made in heaven. I told him about having to hold back when we ran out of gas and he was appreciative that I did. We were a small distance from the van and could see fire in the distance, it looked like a forest fire. Visions of an out of control fire engulfing our Petrona went through my head. Suddenly, we saw Petrona, she was fine! We paid the mototaxi driver, no sooner had the money touched his hand and he was gone. I put the kids in the van and Preston and I put the gas into her. We pushed her into a position where she could get gas. Finally...she started and we were on our way back into town to get more gas. Preston was wondering why the gas seemed to be gone so quickly...I just figured she was a gas guzzler. We got into town and as we pulled in front of the gas pump she died. We put gas in her and started driving out of the gas station. Spu-spu-spu dead! Preston fiddled with the engine...nothing! We tried push starting a couple times...still nothing. A taxi driver and the guy at the pump tried helping a couple times, but they gave up. I went to the door, got in the van and thought to myself...I'm just going to sleep here tonight. Preston looked at me and said, "Come on, let's push." then he looked behind us and said, "Oh did the guys who were helping leave?" I nodded yes and sluggishley sauntered to the back of the van to push again. I started pushing and just then a man came up from behind to help...she started! I thanked him and we continued home. We made it all the way to the front of our neighborhood, accidentally sideswiped the guards car but there was no damage. We made it home. No I did not make the kids take a freezing cold shower, I let them go to bed all sandy and gross! Preston and I took showers and collapsed. Preston made some dip and we ate chips and dip for dinner...WHAT A DAY!
MEET PETRONA...take a look at her insides
Preston checking the gas
The back
The back seat...we just discovered that this isn't actually bolted down. It is our goal to get it bolted down and seat belts for the kids.
This is how we lock the back door
The front seat
None of these gauges actually work
This is our review this time we have no side mirrors, but we hope to get some one day :)
This is a common position for Preston...this is the actual moment he realized the carburetor gasket is bad and she's leaking gas


  1. Heya! Thanks for sharing that. I love how through the difficult times you appreciate each other and keep pushing onwards and upwards. It's not always easy to do and I'm still trying to get there (in that department). You guys are great and we love yaz! Jeddoxoxoxo

    1. Thank you so much Jed...and thank you for reading and keeping up with us. We miss y'all and hope to see you soon. We know how busy things are out there, but we totally need to get together.