“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:2-4 NIV)
It wasn’t Friday the 13th. It was Thursday, the 12th. Nevertheless, this day was never meant to be!
It all started while we were still at the campground where we had spent the night. When we had the trailer hitch initially installed on our van, we inherited a thick, electrical tape-covered cord that was supposed to stick out of the bottom of the hatch and plug into the trailer, thus supplying electrical energy to the trailer’s lights. Now, I won’t say that it was ALWAYS easy to close the hatch around that cord, but never before in our three short weeks of RVing had it taken us 30 minutes to accomplish the task! For whatever reason, that hatch just did NOT want to close around that cord! But finally, after plenty of banging, reopening, and banging again, it was closed, and we vowed to NEVER open it again-a vow that was broken at least four times before we had driven 60 km.
It was 9:00 a.m. by the time I finally drove to the camp entrance. But my wife met me there with a worried look on her face. “Uh . . .” she said, gesturing towards the left trailer tire. “This tire seems a little low! We’d better check the air pressure when we stop in town for gas!”
Sure enough, the gauge read 20 psi instead of 80 psi. Now that IS low! But when we tried to fill it back up with air, it hissed back out at us as fast as we put it in! Psssssssss… We had a flat!
Being the “expert” tire changers that we are, it took us 30 minutes to put the spare on the trailer, and then we set out for our next destination: The Flat Fixer. Believe it or not, this was the actual name of the garage! The Flat Fixer advertised that he was open 23 ½ hours a day. He told us that he spends the other half an hour spreading nails on the road, and it appeared that we had picked up one of his nails! Of course, in order to do all this, we had to open the infamous hatch and close it again . . .
“Do you think we’ll get to Quebec City on time?” asked one of my sons.
“No problem,” I said. “It’s only 350 km from here. We’ll have plenty of time to explore the city!”
Or so we thought . . .
By 10:30 a.m. we were finally on the highway. We covered a whole 30 kms before the next problem surfaced. My wife, who was looking in the rear view mirror, saw it first: “Uh… I think we forgot to close the vent of the roof of the trailer.”
Sure enough, it was open just enough to catch the wind. We would have to close it as soon as possible or risk the wind ripping it off. Of course, since this was a tent trailer, it meant that we had to raise the top . . . Another 30 minutes lost.
I was right in the middle of typing a devotional about stinking nostrils when my wife, who was driving, made another of her infamous observations: “Uh . . . I think I saw part of our tire fly away!” We had driven a total of 60 kilometres!
“What?” I exclaimed. “We just had it repaired 45 minutes ago! Tires don’t just fly around like that.”
“Uh . . .” she said, with hesitation.
How I was beginning to hate that word!
“It was the other tire we had fixed!” she continued, completing her statement of doom. As she pulled over to the side of the road, I dutifully crawled out from under the laptop and walked to the back of the trailer. Together we pushed and prodded at the trailer tires, but we couldn’t see anything. “I must have been mistaken,” my wife said. But though there was an element of wistful thinking in her tone, I could tell she still wasn’t convinced.
That’s when we noticed that the trailer lights were not flashing, even though my wife had put on the emergency flashers. We did a quick test: brakes, right turn signal, left turn signal, headlights . . . But it didn’t do any good. The trailer lights were COMPLETELY dead, and we were forced to yet again open the back of the van. Fiddling with the wires did no good, however, and since it isn’t safe to drive without trailer lights, we resigned ourselves to our fate: Our next stop would have to be at an RV garage.
Several minutes of banging later, the hatch was again closed around its despised cord and we were free to concentrate on our newest problem. But the trailer lights soon became the least of our worries. As soon as we were back on the road, the trailer began listing to one side. My wife pulled to the side of the road again, and once again we bailed out to find that a large piece of the inside of our right trailer tire tread was completely missing. The tire must have been turned in such a way that when we stopped the first time, it was hidden behind the wheel; but there was no denying it now. We simply had to accept the fact that we had 3 kinds of tires-one with a repaired nail hole; one with only part of its tread; and a spare one. How original!
It only took us 20 minutes to change the tire this time-practice DOES make perfect, you see!-and after struggling once again with our beloved hatch-we headed towards the next exit. It was the last exit in New Brunswick, and here we were faced with an unexpected challenge: The local people, though we had not yet crossed over into Quebec, all spoke French. Now, for a French teacher and his bilingual wife, this shouldn’t have been an issue. But the dialect used in the particular part of Canada was foreign to us. In fact, they might as well have been speaking Chinese! Somehow, however, we found an RV sales and service place in the town we had just passed who was willing to help us.
We were feeling pretty good, and it didn’t take us long to cover the 10 kms back to town. But when we arrived, our good feeling soured. “Uh . . . ” stammered my wife, once again using that dreaded starter: “Where are the trailers?”
“I’m not sure,” I replied. “Maybe around back?”
This answer satisfied her for the moment, but once inside the office, we were told that the man who could help us was out to lunch and wouldn’t be back for 45 minutes. Or at least that’s what we THINK we were told. I was guessing at more than half of what was said.
We decided that if it was time for THEM to have lunch, then it was time for US as well, and we drove around to the back of the garage. But the promised trailers were nowhere to be seen. Instead, the back parking lot was filled up with broken down trucks!
“Uh . . .”
There she goes again!
“How can a place that advertises itself as being an RV Sales and Service garage not have any RVs?”
My wife just WOULDN’T let this one go, would she? But it probably only annoyed me because I was wondering the same thing! If they didn’t have any RVs, would they know how to help us? And if not, what would we do?
It was about 50 minutes before someone finally came to help us, and over the course of the next 15 minutes, a total of four different men came and went, each with his own set of unique questions. We had just repeated our story for the fourth time when they asked us to drive into the garage. My wife and I looked at each other. These people obviously didn’t know just WHO was behind the wheel of this rig! Driving INTO the garage would be no problem; but getting back OUT would require using reverse! Even after 3 weeks of towing experience, we still avoided THAT direction! But my practical wife said, “Let’s don’t worry about that right now! Something will turn up!”
At least she didn’t say “Uh”!
One man began unloaded the back of the van to work on the electrical problem, while another two began to change our tires into brand new ones.
“With all the help we’re getting, this should be done in 1-2-3!” commented my wife.
But I couldn’t help but note the sarcasm in her voice, for in reality, it was taking those TWO men LONGER (is it possible?) to take off our trailer tires than it had taken us! It was 90 minutes before two brand new tires graced our trailer.
“Be aware that those tires are cheap,” one man stated, his voice calm and reassuring. “They could blow up any time!” Or at least that’s what we THOUGHT he said.
Duly “encouraged”, I asked: “Aren’t there better ones available?”
Neither of us had any difficulty understanding that! And the man was obviously encouraged by our progress with understanding French, for he immediately began sharing with us about morning problems at the hospital. Or at least that’s what we THOUGHT he was saying. All we could do is nod our heads and hope that this was somehow the appropriate response!
Meanwhile, the other mechanic was still trying to figure out our electricity problem. He was sure the problem was the power converter, but he had never seen one with SIX wires before. All he knew about were FIVE-wired power converters. Quite a bit more time had elapsed before he finally located a six-wired power converter, but after warning us that it would be quite expensive, he left the garage. I couldn’t feel ANY better now!
We waited another eternity before I decided to go see what he was doing. I found him all right. He was standing in a store filled with customers. Seeing us, his manager asked, “You’re not in a hurry, are you?”
“Well kind off…”
“We will be with you right away.”
It was fifteen minutes before the mechanic reappeared. But he was visibly excited. “I think I found the problem!” he nearly shouted. “It must be a ____!” And sure enough, it was a blown fuse in the battery of our van. In just a few moments, our trailer lights were working, and we were presented with the bill. What an expensive fuse that turned out to be!
The mechanic closed our hatch for us this time, and it only took him about 10 tries. Then, sensing our hesitation with backing out of the garage, he soon had the van and trailer back in the parking lot, and finally, at 3:45 p.m., we were back on the road.
We had covered a total of 60 km in 6½ hours. But we only had another 300 km to go, and we would gain an hour when we crossed into Quebec. We’d be in Quebec City by 5:30 at the latest! No problem!
But it was not to be. As soon as we crossed into Quebec, my wife started in again: “Uh . . . There sure is a lot of road construction in Quebec!”
Sure enough, we immediately encountered delays long enough that my wife, who was driving, literally took a nap while waiting for the “stop” (or “arrêt”!) sign to be turned to “slow”-(lent).
Then it started raining. Torrentially. And when the rain let up, the cloud settled down onto the road and we had fog so thick that our visibility was less than half a kilometre. But that’s another story!
“Are we ever going to reach Quebec City?” came the voice from the back seat-again! It wasn’t the first time the question had been asked, nor would it be the last! All we could say was who needs Friday the 13th, when you can have a Thursday the 12th!
Have you ever experienced days like these? Welcome to Job’s house. Trials are part of life and trying to figure these out will only lead to frustration. The only way to enjoy going through such ordeals is by trusting in Jesus. Knowing that He was right beside us reassured us that we are not alone, and this helped us to enjoy ourselves that day, despite the troubles. We knew that He was in charge, no matter what, and this gave us the required amount of patience to endure those 350 kilometres.
Do you have any tire problems? Don’t loose hope. There is a RV garage not far from you! And don’t be turned off if there aren’t any trailers in the yard . . .
P. S. It is now 7:00 p.m. and we are still a hundred kilometres from Quebec City . . .
Director, Answers2Prayer Ministries