December 19, 2012

Our Adventure With Holiday Reunions

Important items-- my gas stove, land line phone, assorted candles.

Although I had planned to tell a different story today, after what happened yesterday, I changed my mind.  So there is no hero in today’s story, no exhibitions of courage or valor.  Just a story that shows that sometimes life is stranger than fiction.  And that God hears and answers our prayers.  I guess that makes God the hero!

Yesterday, a week before Christmas, we were looking forward to the BYU (Brigham Young University) student kids returning home for the holidays.  They were waiting at the airport for my husband Scott to collect them after he finished work.  I had my grandsons over, a 2 year old in diapers and a 4 year old.  And my friend was here with her daughter and another girl to run in our neighborhood with my daughter Paige, all teenagers.  

As I visited with my friend, the lights went out, followed by a loud pop.  Being about 6 pm, dusk was just coming on.  Thinking that the ‘pop’ indicated something serious, I started gathering up our candles to prepare for the darkness.  Fortunately, I had just pulled out two loaves of wheat bread I had baked, and a pot of soup was bubbling on our gas stove.  Dinner:  check.  

The grand kids were running around outside with my two sons, oblivious to the coming darkness.  The four year old came in shortly thereafter, wet.  He had been too busy enjoying the day to come in and use the potty.  In my daughter’s haste to get to her errands, she had not left me a bag of spare clothes or even diapers for her younger son.  I grabbed the last diaper I had tucked away and put it on the 4 year old.   We had no suitable underwear for him; we found a pair of jeans shorts size 8 which we clipped with a large paperclip to hold them on.  But that meant we wouldn’t have a spare diaper for the 2 year old.  All of the kids came inside as darkness closed in.  

My friend and the girls left, only to return a few minutes later.  A tree had fallen across the road, taking power lines down, which lay across the road.  The ‘pop’ now made sense.  It was the sound of the tree landing in the street.  Fortunately, no one had been hurt.  By now it was dark, but the house glowed as the fireplace blazed and candles flickered in groups.  We had only one good flashlight.  For some unexplained reason, we still can never find any even though I buy them for each camp out my son goes on.  The trick now was to keep the grand kids safe, as they gravitated to the candles and wanted to play with them.  It didn’t help to have my 10  and 17 year old pyromaniac sons facing the same temptations.  Gratefully, none of the kids, including the grand kids were afraid. 

I pulled out our fun game, “The Worst Case Scenario,” and handed it to the teenagers.  It was too dark to really play it by candlelight, but it did make for fun conversation!  

My BYU kids thought I was kidding when I texted them about the predicament we were experiencing.  Spencer texted back asking if the pool was on fire.  I guess last year’s shenanigans teasing him that they had lost his girlfriend in the airport undermined my reliability!  They sobered up when they saw the flashing lights of the police cars blocking the road into our subdivision.  We made arrangements for my husband and kids to switch cars with my friend and the girls, thinking they could walk past the road block to make the switch. 

I was so happy to see those BYU kids walk into the kitchen, in the flickering candle light!   Chaos ensued in the excitement and hugs, but we calmed the group down to have dinner.  Our lentil soup kept cooking on that gas stove in spite of the power outage.  Geoffrey used candle heat to melt the butter on his homemade bread.  I told you they were pyromaniacs! 

Now we had to figure out how to get the grandsons home.  To top it off, my husband (a Stake President in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) was releasing a returning Missionary in an hour.  The plan had been for her family to meet at our house.  That was impossible now.  We tried to take care of both returning the grandsons and releasing the missionary at the same time.  We arranged to drive a car to the roadblock and walk the grand kids to my son-in-law, who would meet us there.  But they were in sad shape.  The 2 year old had a ripe diaper, the 4 year old was in clipped together shorts, neither one had socks (lost in the mayhem) or coats.  With the sunset, the temperature had dropped into the 40’s.  We wrapped them in fleece blankets to keep them warm.  My two BYU daughters carried them like giant gifts.  Scott had dug up a second flashlight: they came in handy now.  Parking as close to the roadblock, they used the flashlights to walk past the emergency and reunite the boys with their daddy.  The girls would stay with my daughter’s family for the night.

My son in law took Scott to the returning missionaries’ home, where Scott extended the honorable release.  The family brought him back to the roadblock, where he crossed and took the parked car back home.  Scott got home about 10:30 pm.  The power came on about an hour later.     

Although we had anticipated a completely different reunion with our BYU students for the holidays, this one was still sweet.  Our prayers for their safety arriving home had been answered.  I would never have put this series of events together in my wildest dreams for how they would arrive!  The truth simply was stranger than fiction!  But they came safely home, all was well.  

Today dawned like many others—bright, crisp and clear, as if nothing had happened yesterday different than the day before.  But I was grateful, more than usually, for electricity, for preparedness training within our church, and for the safe reunions that occurred.  Our friends made it home, our BYU kids and my husband made it home, and our grandsons got home too.  

I’m sure you agree that I can’t really derive any heroes from this, unless we count God as our hero!  He heard our prayers and answered them, in spite of the road closure and electricity issues going on.  And perhaps we can take some preparedness lessons from it:  we need to have extra diapers and clothes around for our grand kids!   And a few more flashlights that work.

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