THERE AND BACK AGAIN - A VW TALE
A teaser for our new book. The story of our first years journey from Fear to Faith.
Holy Spirit Roadside Assistance
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails Explore. Dream. Discover.” — Mark Twain
I shot a glance over to my wife, Tracey. I admit that I had a bit of panic in my voice, as I yelled over the screaming motor.
“Do you know what you gotta do?”
“No!” She shot back, equally panicked with just a hint of whimsy in her forced smile.
We were heading for Cape Breton Island, the enchanted land of long-forgotten Gallic and mystical fiddlers. We had stopped along the way because the forty-year-old carburetors on our VW Bus were inching along on their last legs and needed some tweaking from, what the locals called, “the bus whisperer.”
We had followed one of these locals out into the pretty countryside of Canada’s eastern shores. Nova Scotia was one of the friendliest areas we had the privilege of discovering on our odyssey.
We both had fears that were going to get exposed on this journey and we were going to learn just how radically God loves us.
We pulled off the highway and up a short dirt driveway, quickly noticing no room in the inn, for the bus whisperer’s garage door was open, and another VW bus was being tended to. That was always a good sign. If there were other vehicles present odds are the mechanic in residence knew his stuff. It’s like driving up to a restaurant and seeing a parking lot full. Quite likely the bellies inside were full and happy too.
The elderly mechanic, shortened by age with hands weathered and gnarled, had a look about him of one who had spent a lifetime in hard work. His heart was golden, and he took the time to re-tune our dual carburetors, carefully inserting his head over the engine and turning his little screwdriver a bit at a time. Ever listening. Totally concentrating. But our local tour guide (a young man who befriended us in an instant when he spotted our bus in a parking lot a few days earlier) was a chatty fellow and had an endless barrage of comments, questions and stories to share, a regular machine gun of dialogue, until the screwdriver popped out of the engine compartment to give a loud “Shhh”.
Finishing up the mechanic clipped the lids back on top of our carburetors and smiled. A job well done. He informed us that he was hosting a VW show on Cape Breton Island in the historic town of Iona. We thanked him for his services and offered to pay, but we were sternly refused. We had heard about the show on the island and had decided to take part, as a central focus of our trip to Cape Breton.
So it was, as we were driving the lonely highway through northern Nova Scotia, on our way from the bus whisperer, that we came upon a truck and horse trailer going unusually slow. We both were coming up to a hill, and I realized something unique. For the first time in the four months that we have been on our road trip, we could pass someone. Imagine the thrill of being able to pass another vehicle when you’re driving a forty-year-old VW bus. This does not happen every day, I assure you. As I pressed down on the accelerator the pedal fell entirely away from my foot to the floor. Yes, it fell to the floor of the bus, and the engine began running at full throttle. I didn’t know what happened! All I knew is that the gas pedal was stuck on the floor of the bus and the engine was revved wide open as we quickly moved uphill. My mind raced almost as fast as my pulse, as I envisioned the accelerator cable running under our bus to the engine compartment and then to linkages between our two carburetors. Something back there was stuck!
Now as you calmly read this, you’ll, of course, know exactly what to do. But believe me, when your racing up a hill in full acceleration in a vehicle never meant to be in full acceleration you stop thinking clearly. Now going uphill is fine, but there is a downside to this mountain, and I needed to stop this runaway train. Brother, I was panicked. I hollered over the noise of the screaming engine to my wife, who had given up trying to lift the pedal from the floor.
“I am going to have to slam the brakes on at the top of this mountain, your going to have to jump out, run to the back of the bus, lift the engine door, reach in there and lift the connecting bar between the carburetors…” (I could see it in my mind, this bar had something to do with it)… “Do you know what you have to do?”
“No” she screamed.
Reaching the top of the hill, I swing the bus off the road and pressing down with all my might to hold the brake pedal to the floor. The engine was whining for all she is worth, as my wife jets out of her side, running to the back of the bus, lifting the engine lid, just as I recall the simplest thing to do.
Turn the key.
I reached up and turned off the motor. We went from full RPM to a dead stop in a millisecond. The two massive backfires were like shotgun blasts in this serene countryside. My wife jumped back ten feet. The look of shock and terror on her face.
Now there was silence on this isolated stretch of road. Silence, except for the sound of a truck and horse trailer passing us by, victoriously moving on.
I walk to the back of the bus where my wife is pointing out the splattering of oil on the inside walls of the tires. I look around inside the engine compartment, blind to why my pedal behaved so rudely.
So here we are, stuck on a mountaintop on Canada’s east coast, probably a hundred miles or more from the nearest garage. My wife is standing on her seat now, stretching her arm as high as it will go to try and get at least one bar to show up on the cell phone. No service. No way to call CAA. Extended coverage and free towing won’t help if we can’t make the call.
Perhaps it was only two or three minutes on the side of the road, in the middle of nowhere, I don’t think it was more than that when a VW Jetta passes us and pulls over just in front of our VW bus. A man jumps out of his car and hollers over, “I’m a VW mechanic, what do you need?”
He quickly saw the obstruction and straightened things out, telling us there was no harm to the motor. “Just let her sit for a bit, she is probably flooded. Then your good to go.”
My friend and reader, that is just how it has been for us as we have now been over ten years travelling the world with the first three years living in a VW bus and following our hearts and the voice of God from town to town.
This book will make an account of our travels and highlight many of our adventures as we have journeyed from “Fear to Faith.”
We are going to get real with you. Unveil our struggles. The secret hurts that came with us as uninvited guests on this journey. We will share with you our encounter with unconditional love and the transformational freedom that comes from pure honesty and transparency. That can be a scary thing for most people, as it was for me. We both had fears that were going to get exposed on this journey, and we were going to learn just how radically God loves us.
That revelation of God’s love towards us all, may not be unique for you. What may be unique is hearing His voice and doing what He is asking. That’s what I think was the key for us I suppose. Also, a unique aspect may have been the quickness with which we followed that leading voice when He was asking us to do some unusual things. So if you’re ready, perhaps we will begin at the beginning. How did two corporate yuppies end up living like 70’s hippies in the back of a VW bus and travelling the back roads and highways of North America, popping into one small town after another to share divine appointments with good folks? How did we find out how faith can lead you out of the realm of fear.? Well, you’ll have to keep reading.