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Saturday, 2 December 2017

Helping hands amid car troubles

   Last month, the minivan pictured at the right had to be sent to a place of no return--the scrap yard.  For 15 years it had been our family's single and reliable vehicle, but things began to change this fall.
   First, our garage alerted us to the fact that the frame and the body were no longer connected.  There was a serious risk that our engine could suddenly drop down, so we prepared ourselves for the inevitability of a repair estimate that would be too high and thus cause us to give up on the vehicle entirely.  To our surprise, there was a local business that did this exact repair for about $600.  During the days when we didn't feel safe driving it and while it was being repaired, kind friends of ours lent us their minivan.  That allowed me to accompany my daughter on an overnight camping trip with her environmental science class.  We are grateful.
   About ten days after the repair job, we planned to drive two hours to my husband's hometown so that we could attend a family funeral for an uncle the next morning.  On our way, we planned to stop in a nearby city and visit a member of our church who had been hospitalized there for some time.  As we neared the hospital, the car stalled without warning.  After restarting it a couple of times and limping to the hospital parking lot, we parked and the engine quit again, this time for good.  We decided to go into the hospital and visit with our acquaintance and see if things would be better when we returned to the parking lot.  We had a nice chat with her, and then went out to check on the vehicle.  Again, it would not start.  Not having cell phones, we were glad that the hospital had a pay phone in its foyer so that we could call a tow truck.  The friendly gentleman and his 9th grade son were there shortly to pick us up with enough space for the three passengers we had been traveling with.  The tow of 25 kilometres was only $120.  It was raining, so after dropping the minivan at our garage, the driver offered to bring us to our front door as well.
   During this incident, we discussed together how grateful we were that we had not headed straight for the 4-lane highway to get to my husband's home town that night.  If the minivan had quit abruptly there, we could have been hit by high speed traffic around us.  Even if we could have safely moved onto the shoulder, we would have had cars speeding past us and been at the mercy of the nearest tow truck who noticed us in distress. 
   The crank shaft sensor was the culprit for the stalling engine, and it was quickly fixed at a minimal cost.  We were hopeful that the vehicle would have a good stretch of health before the next repair, but it was not to be.  About a week later, it stranded us again in the early evening.  In this case, a friend was driving on the same road, in the opposite direction.  She noticed our distinct vehicle with its four-way flashers on and recognized my husband by his height.  She turned around and then followed us as we sputtered to a side street, where the engine completely quit. When we realized she was there behind us, we were so grateful to get a ride home, from which we could call a tow truck.
   This time, we finally saw what objectivity would have probably seen much sooner.  This vehicle was becoming a money pit, and it was time to say "Good bye" to it.
   The same couple who loaned us their minivan in October, allowed us to borrow another of their vehicles for one more week until our purchase of a Toyota compact car was finalized.  In the midst of all the car troubles, we knew that God was caring for us through circumstances and people.

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