Well, I am one tired puppy, and I did not even have to drive much!
I want to say first and foremost that those of you praying for us...it made a difference! God took care of us in ways that were humbling, amazing, and just left no room for doubting that He was in charge and clearing a path for us.
We started in Indianapolis. A few delays and travel complications...but with wonderful gracious hosts that helped us feel at home for a few hours before we had to leave the next morning, Saturday the 21st. No problems receiving the buses from the seller....we were off and running.
Saturday we arrived in Nashville during a big storm, met our local contact (our intern Nick from earlier in the summer), picked up a few clothes, and got to bed for more than the four hours or so that we got the night before. I signed up to drive a vehicle for Nick back to his parents to Jacksonville as well here. We had some heating issues with one of the buses, but only on hills in the mountains. We never nailed down what the problem was, but with some monitoring and rest, it never was too much of a problem.
Sunday had us arriving in Atlanta...or Hotlanta as it was that day. Humanta as well. We packed more clothes in the buses, which is even hotter work.
Monday on to Southern Georgia for a clothing stop and then to Jacksonville, one of the longer legs of the trip. Everyone we met and that helped us could not have been more welcoming, helpful, and made everything so much easier and enjoyable, even though with our schedule we did not have much time for enjoyable visiting, etc.
Tuesday got us to Clearwater...the hardest day of the trip by far since we almost completely loaded the second bus here, loading over 100 big Master Provisions bags in the bus in about two hours. It does not sound like hard work perhaps...but getting them up, getting them in the bus, and then getting them packed in was...grueling. No heart attacks reported however.
Wednesday was the greatest evidence of God's protection and guidance. We were on our way starting out, going to stop for diesel soon...when one of the buses ran out. Getting a bus started after you have run it out can be...challenging. The Road Ranger (a free service to help broken down motorists) put out cones, had lighting to help warn people to move over (but several still gave us quite a breeze as they stormed on by at 70mph)) and provided a very helpful funnel to get the six gallons of fuel we bought into the tank, along with a free five gallons he had with him. Claude by God's grace had some inspired ideas on how to prime the fuel pump and bleed out the air...but most importantly after giving it a go a few times was the humbling part to me. I noticed that in our efforts to get it going, we had not literally stopped to pray. I layed hands on the bus, prayed that it would start...and then Claude instantly turned around to ask what I thought we should do (as if I know more than him!) Instead of following what I prayed...that we should try to start it in answer to that prayer, I did not. We thought, and then while I primed the pump like a mad man just as before...it turned over instantly. I instantly knew what I had done...and felt so stupid and so faithless...while God showed yet again how faithful He is.
We got to the port after some other minor interesting things, and after figuring out where we were to go, etc. got to where we were supposed to park...when the bus ran out of fuel again. I thought we had calculated enough fuel, but obviously...I was wrong. It literally needed only another mile to get where it needed, but it still was an ideal place for such an occurance. The buses are supposed to load with minimal fuel...just not that minimal. So, some buying of diesel from another truck, clever sucking and moving of said fuel via some tubing, much lost time later...and it was done.
I am mentaly exhausted, but we also had quite a few hard driving days...but despite it all both drivers were telling me as we headed to the airport..."the next time you do this, count me in!" Praise God for the enjoyment He gives us to the tasks He has for us. More amazing stuff.
I am scheduled to head back to TGU on Saturday, God willing. It will be good to get home...it was also good to be so reliant on God for safety, working buses, health, etc. A couple thousand miles in buses over a decade old, sight unseen before we picked them up...all that will do that for you.
It was also encouraging to see so many people invested and willing to help in God's work in Honduras, the kind of encouraging that really helps your heart.
It was also interesting to see things that remind me of home: getting to speak in Spanish to all the guys at the port, seeing vendors in the streets just like TGU, trying boiled peanuts, trying the new McDonald's fresh fruit smoothies that were very good, visiting the original Chick-fil-A, trying several Greek food items for the first time...seeing rain storms literally look like they are walking down the road to hit you, getting to taste strawberries again, being thankful for the great weather in TGU that we have year round, and so much more.
I can't post pictures here, but I did get a few up on my mobile Facebook if you want to check there.
Thanks again to God, and for all those He used along the way to make this portion of the bus adventure possible! We appreciate you all so much!!