The chilly rain from the previous day had given way to warm sunshine, and those of us on the Wintergreen Church Woman’s Auxiliary spring trip to the mountains of North Carolina were in a festive mood. We had arrived the day before on our church bus, and had spent the afternoon touring Pilot Mountain and Mt. Airy. We finished the day with a concert in Galax, Virginia, arriving late Friday night back to our hotel in Pinnacle. Now, after a restful night’s sleep, we were taking a side trip to tour a cheese factory and have lunch in the quaint little town of West Jefferson. Six ladies from three other churches had joined us on the trip. One of them, Joan, from White Oak Grove, had called her friends, Burt and Sandra, who lived in West Jefferson and they had met us just outside of town. We were following them to the downtown area when Ashley, our bus driver, exclaimed that the bus had lost power! He pulled the vehicle off the road in front of a diesel mechanic shop. A couple of the mechanics came over, and they and Ashley determined that the inner belt was broken. We didn’t know it at that time, but we wouldn’t be using that bus for any tours for the rest of the weekend!
Thus began the long ordeal of finding a replacement belt. We learned that belts for bus engines aren’t something usually stocked at the auto parts stores. To compound the problem, it was a Saturday, and there was no chance of getting the broken belt repaired before Monday. So what do you do when you have 18 people on a broken-down bus, 80 miles from the hotel (not to mention 290 miles from home!)? The mood was becoming chaotic with each expressing her own idea about what to do when a quiet voice piped up. Barbara, another passenger from White Oak Grove, quipped, “I think we should pray”. Slowly, the cacophony of noise subsided as the idea sunk in. Of course! Pray about the situation! What took us so long to figure that out?
By that time, Joan’s friends had realized the seriousness of the dilemma, and they went to work. They contacted their church, Bethany United Methodist, and obtained permission to use their 15-passenger van. The rest of the passengers rode in the car with Sandra while Burt drove the van. We had a delightful day of touring West Jefferson and eating at a charming little restaurant in the heart of town. Then they took us to see the “Church of the Frescoes”, Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, in Glendale Springs. Afterwards, Burt and Sandra saw that we were safely transported back to our hotel in Pinnacle.
The next day was Sunday, and Ashley’s aunt, Rev. Ruby Davis, saved the day by sending her church van to pick us up to attend services at Pinnacle Church of God. After the service, we sampled the delicious buffet in the restaurant next to our lodging and spent an afternoon of relaxation reading, napping, and visiting with our fellow travelers. That night, Pinnacle provided transportation back to their church for an inspiring worship in song.
By then, word had spread back home, and arrangements were made with Juniper Chapel to send their bus the next day to bring us home. Ashley stayed with his aunt, who took him back to West Jefferson on Monday morning to get the new belt and make arrangements to have it installed.
In retrospect, we could see the hand of God at work through this ordeal. We broke down in an open area in broad daylight (instead of late the night before on the steep, winding mountain road with narrow shoulders), mechanics were on hand to help diagnose the problem, and transportation was provided for us for two days. “The LORD is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in him.” Nahum 1:7. Nothing that had happened came as a surprise to our Lord, and help was as close as a prayer away, no matter how far we were from home.