Fair waring, this is a “day in the life” kind of narrative post. If you get bored with such things, you should probably come back for the next post, later today.
Yesterday was one of those fun, interesting and somewhat draining days. We went to Fargo this weekend for an evangelism conference and I was privileged to lead worship and also help with some round-table group discussions, so we had a busy weekend already going. The trick though is that a winter storm was forecast to arrive on Saturday night and last through this morning sometime, which promised to make Sunday more challenging than the previous two days.
The storm started as promised on Saturday night with a little rain that quickly switched to mostly snow. It didn’t stick to everything right away (we had gotten to 50 degrees earlier that day), but it did start to make a mess. When we woke Sunday morning, it was readily apparent that the day would be different than originally planned. Sunday was supposed to be regular church services followed by a meal, business meeting and then a small troop of us heading out to do services at two area nursing homes. But with several inches of wet, heavy snow on the ground, plan were in the air.
We got a call from our deacon/song leader that they would not be able to make the drive from 30 minutes away, which was not a surprise. Another deacon and his wife live out in the country as well and with visibility low and roads packed with this “wet powdered sugar” (that’s what it looked like anyway), there was no way they were going to make it in either. I knew the business meeting was a no go, the only question that remained was how much other stuff would get dropped during the day. My other deacon drives a plow to clear the roads and his day had started a 4 AM according to his wife, who did make it to church. There were three other guys who braved the elements and showed up as well, so we had a good time together worshiping in song and word. I broke out the guitar (because I just hadn’t played it enough already during the weekend) and played through the songs, changing one because I couldn’t play it. Note to self: need to play guitar more to keep callouses on my fingers thicker.
We stood around and talked with one another for quite a while afterward and then got out to brave the elements once again. The snow was blowing almost sideways for most of the day, but the intensity had let up just a bit. The highways were now mostly wet instead of deep slush, so I called the nursing home that was about 15 miles out of town to possibly cancel our service there. The nurse who answered informed me that if I had a 4WD, I shouldn’t have any problems getting there. She had come from the other direction and made it just fine and the plows had been through. So, I told her I would start up the Expedition and make my way out there for the service at 2:15.
I hit the highway at about 1:30 in order to give myself plenty of time and not be rushed. The highway wasn’t too bad, although I got hit with slush from an SUV passing in the other direction that sounded like a bag of rocks hitting the windshield. There was no apparent damage to anything other than my nerves and I continued on my way. Making the turn south onto the secondary road proved to be no trouble, but after less than a mile on this county road, I was ready to turn back. The only problem was that turning around wasn’t really an option. Between the size of my vehicle and the lack of shoulders on the road, it was Osnabrock or bust. I finally made it to the nursing home and enjoyed spending time with the residents. Since I didn’t have anyone with me this time, out came the guitar again (my fingers didn’t like me much at this point) and we did some songs and I shared a short devotional. It was nice to have a break from being on the road in the slush and mess.
As soon as we were done, I had to rush to get out the door in order to give myself plenty of time again to get back to Langdon and head for Maple Manor. Many thanks go to one of the visitors there who collected the books for me and saved me time. Normally, this isn’t a real stressful thing; but with the roads like this, it promised to be more interesting driving back.
The road north to highway 5 was better than it had been when I was on it just an hour before, so I was thankful for that. I encountered a few more vehicles that were out as well, but not many. When I got to Hwy 5 there was a Cadillac going west, so I pulled out behind it and figured if he didn’t have any trouble, I wouldn’t have any trouble.
Everything passed without incident until about 4 miles or so east of Langdon. The Cadillac pulled onto the shoulder and came to a stop ahead of me. I thought it was odd, but I saw a semi coming from the other direction and assumed that the car didn’t want to get plastered with slush like I had earlier. I went around them cautiously just before the semi arrived coming from the other direction. I had slowed down a lot and looked back to see the Caddy start to pull onto the roadway again, but they looked like they were having trouble. It was sliding sideways and looked to be having trouble getting traction. I slowed to a crawl, preparing to stop and turn around if he didn’t make it on the road.
The next thing I saw was the car fishtailing the other direction so that the car was now completely sideways across the road with his front end pointing north on an east/west highway. I could see the tires spinning furiously and I was now convinced that I was witnessing an impending wreck. It looked like he was completely out of control from my perspective.
Next thing I know, the car goes shooting off to the north like a bullet. At this point I realize that the whole crazy dance I witnessed was a truly mad driver getting up enough speed to tackle a side road full of snow with a Cadillac. He disappeared going north and I didn’t figure he needed my help as much as he needed my prayers for his safety driving like that.
I made it to Maple Manor without further incident and did the second service. More singing and guitar playing (my fingers still hate me today for this I think as it hurts a little bit to type with my left hand) and a little visiting afterward. It was a long day, but a fun and blessed day. It isn’t like this every week, and for that I am thankful; but it is what you might find yourself doing when you pastor in the great white north.