Saturday, March 10, 2007

Small Town Life

Slice of Life Index

Dear family and friends,

I would like to share some experiences of small town life. I have only known big city life.

In Goshen, as Tom and I enter a shop, people are curious as to who we are. We tell them that we bought a home recently across the street from Goshen library (the only library in town). Often they know which home we bought and who the previous owner was.

During a heavy snowfall, I asked our neighbor if I could borrow a snow shovel. The next day I found all of our front, side, & back sidewalks shoveled. Lizy and I made a thank-you card for our neighbor. An old lady (between 80 – 90 years) came to greet us with a pan of cinnamon rolls. She told me that if I needed anything, I should not hesitate to call her. She owns a local coffee shop where she bakes pies and sometimes cooks. She opens her shop at 4:30 AM every day for her regular customers.

Our next-door neighbor came with a batch of cookies—the same neighbor who shoveled about two feet of snow for me twice. They knew that Tom was at Chicago.

This is one of the memorable incidences: I left Chicago at 10:30 pm with Lizy. (We are often coming to our Chicago home as we are preparing it to sell. We often leave Chicago very late because there are so many things to do and people to visit, including Henna and Christian who are in Chicago.) We had been on the highway for 1.5 hours when we ran into a snowstorm, a common lake-effect blizzard (locals are very familiar with these) on I-80/90. Snow (more like sleet) was pounding against the windshield. The direction of the sleet was changing every few seconds. Visibility was so poor that the rear lights of the car in front of me was just a faint glow. I could not see anything else. To my side could have been a plain or a precipice. Even the road signs and exits were not visible. We were crawling, just following the light in front of us. I saw the US-31 exit sign. I knew I was supposed to take US-31, but I wasn't sure if this was the exit. I exited only to realize it was the wrong exit. The toll collector told me to go straight and turn onto US-20 until it turns to US-33, then follow it to Goshen. I kept going. The signs disappeared. I was in a small town somewhere in Indiana. I looked for signs of life. The whole town was asleep. I stopped at a gas station. It was empty, deserted. I filled up the tank—thank the Lord for automated machines. It was 2 am. Lizy woke up and was determined not to fall asleep so that mommy could find her way home. I saw that I was somewhere in South Bend. I had never been in this town and had no map. I couldn't even find a motel. As I talked to the Lord about my dilemma, a car pulled up next to me in this totally deserted town. A lady of about 60 got out of the car and asked me if I was in trouble. She told me to go down two stop lights, turn left, go another three stop lights, turn right, then go two more stop lights and keep going straight a long haul all the way to Goshen. She was not able to give me any clearer directions, such as street names and distances. We repeated her directions twice from where we met her before realizing that her directions did not take us anywhere. Then there was another car opposite from us. I rolled down my window. This time a young girl in her 20s told me to follow her and at a certain point turn right and then straight. I passed South Bend, Mishawaka, a couple more towns, Elkhart, and then to Goshen. We arrived home at 3:30 AM, so happy to have arrived home. What is normally a 2.5 hour trip took us four hours. The Lord took care of us the whole time.

The church life is very sweet. So far Elizabeth is somewhat lonely in the meetings. She is the only child there most of the time. She is getting accustomed to it. She is learning to make friends with adults. There is one sister (46 years old) who has bonded with Lizy. You will often find them laughing together almost like children. Lizy and I are praying that the Lord would bring a girl of around 12 years old to be a companion for Lizy.

Lizy has adjusted very well to Goshen Middle School (the only middle school in town). Already she has many friends, and she feels at home there.

I have so much to tell but I will save it for next time. Grace be with you!