Last week we embarked on what will surely be the first of many – a long road trip! Our destination was Huntsville, Alabama for the annual meeting of Baptist World Mission. We had applied to the mission board to be church planters to the Bronx in New York City. After a two month application process, this trip was the final step in our appointment with BWM – a doctrinal review and in-person interview with the Board Members. This post will be primarily about our trip, and perhaps I will share more about BWM in a later post.
This journey of over 900 miles one way was supposed to be about 14 hours. Add in a pre-schooler (who really did pretty well), a two year old (who did not quite attain to “pretty well” – actually, it was really rough), and infant twins, and you have the story of our journey.
We started off mid-morning on Friday, October 11th. We had been contacted by our hostess in Alabama that we could use her washer if we wanted to pack light. “Light” is relative when you have four kids (one of whom is potty training, and two who are very much in diapers and need a stroller to go anywhere). We borrowed a car top bag from some friends and we were off. And the adventure was only just beginning.
Nolan was getting over a cold. Every time he sneezed his face was covered in snot, and he cried for a tissue. Nolan’s idea of wiping his own nose includes blowing air out his mouth, and smearing everything else all over his face and hair. So, every time he cried, I walked to the back of the van and wiped his nose. This did not really help my motion sick tendencies.
I learned a lot on this trip about what to bring for kids. Elaine and Nolan each had a box. They had been allowed to fill it with favorite toys. My plan was that the box would also double as a lap table for coloring or other activities. Bad idea. Nolan’s idea for the box was to dump it and then cry for Mommy to pick it up. Or to pull off the lid and then whine that it was broken. Elaine’s idea of the box was to hoard everything in her corner of the car, but not actually play with any of it.
I also learned that crayons are a bad idea. We now have yellow and black crayon on the brand new car seat, purple crayon all over every opening in the magnetic puzzle, and Nolan ate at least part of one blue crayon. Next time – no crayons!
Our grandiose plans to stop at rest areas to nurse the babies and run the toddlers into exhaustion was thwarted by rain – nearly all the way to Alabama and quite a bit on the way home. Even McDonalds didn’t have a play place, so the kids were pretty restless.
Elaine was easily distracted by the countryside. My Lone Ranger buff was excited to see all of the horses. Then she burst out with, “If I look really carefully I can see horses, AND cows, AND ELEPHANTS!” Um, not sure where she got that idea!
We stopped the first night at my Great Uncle Harold and Aunt Lucy’s house near Roanoke, VA. They graciously opened their home to us and prepared a delicious supper. I was just sorry my Grams couldn’t be there too!
Saturday left us with 8.5 hours of travel according to Google. But, we forgot about the time change. Going to Alabama gave us an extra hour – but it was an hour we spent in the car. Our arrival time of 6:45 pm was central time, not eastern time. It took us 11 hours. By this time Nehemiah and Liberty seemed to be catching Nolan’s cold.
We knew each day’s journey was over by the Nolan-ometer. When we had traveled far enough he would lean hard into his buckles and shout “Let – me – OUT!” over and over. Then it was about time to stop, or risk the wrath of the Nolanator!
Saturday night we were about 30 minutes from our destination when the babies started fussing. We had this grand idea to pull over on the side of the road and feed them so that when we arrived, everyone would be happy and presentable to our host family. This totally backfired! Even after nursing them, the twins screamed the rest of the trip, and they were joined by Nolan. By the time we arrived, all four kids wanted to sit in Mommy’s lap and be fed by Mommy, and Mommy was just plain wore out!
Our hosts in Alabama were a kind and gracious family. Pete & Carmen Coronado gave us their basement guest room with a full bathroom. There was a gift for each of the kids waiting in our room. They fixed us delicious meals – including the best hot sauce (ask Ben – I was too chicken to try it), and steak & eggs for breakfast! They had stocked up on Lucky Charms and other favorites of the kids, making the visit seem almost like home. And the coffee was always ready first thing in the morning! They even had a corner of the basement set up with toys, much to the kids’ delight. Their teens were so helpful with my kids, and we had a great visit.
As I praying with the kids before bedtime and prepping them for a different church the next morning, Elaine was confused. We have been trying to explain this “deputation thing” to her, and that we have to go to other churches to ask for money to help us so that Daddy can start a new church. Apparently she thought this was a one time trip, and that we were in Alabama to start the new church. As I said we were going to a new church in the morning, she asked, “But when are we going to build it?”
When we arrived we discovered that one of our suitcases had gotten wet on top of the car. Actually, every article of clothing I had packed for the kids was soaked. I started a load of laundry and went to bed. When I got up, Carmen had dried and folded everything for us. Every afternoon I brought the kids back to the Coronado home to take a nap. Carmen watched the kids while we returned to church for meetings. Then, on the last night of our visit, we arrived back at their house to discover they had gotten Chick-fil-A because they heard I liked it.
The twins seemed to have a competition going to find out who could have the biggest blow-out. There was at least one every day. I thought it was the diapers – a different brand than we normally use. But even after ditching them for our regular brand, the twins continued to make more messes than I could keep up with. They did enjoy the exersaucers in the church nursery, though.
Our conference schedule was packed full, but Calvary Baptist Church did a wonderful job of hosting the event. Every detail seemed well thought out, and they were a blessing to us! Every time we were scheduled to be in a meeting, there was a group of teen girls ready and willing to watch the kids. They were capable and did a fantastic job caring for the babies. The teens washed all of the missionaries’ cars one day. They rented a bounce house for the missionary kids. They provided delicious lunches and dinners, and then set out snack carts for us to access in between afternoon meetings. It really was a wonderful experience.
On our way home we took a short detour to see Auntie Meredith at Bob Jones University. We enjoyed supper in the new cafeteria and a visit until 8 p.m. Then we journeyed on up the road an hour to spend the night at Ambassador Baptist College. We attended Friday’s chapel before continuing home.
We also got to see some of the girls from our church who are students at BJU or live in the area. And we visited with the Hartman family as well. Rather than drive all night and arrive home around 2 am (and have the kids bouncing out of bed at 6 am), we stopped at Ben’s Aunt Paula’s house near Washington, DC. She had never met any of the kids! We enjoyed breakfast on Saturday morning before traveling the last four hours to Brooklyn. What a journey!
Stay tuned for more episodes in our deputation journeys – I’m sure it will only get more interesting from here!