We had collected shells, played snorkel monster, eaten Dominican fried fish on the beach. Now, we had pumped our kids and ourselves up with visions of Wendy's in Santiago and promises of playing with wild abandon on the "monkey playground," a playground attached to a pet store with animals in habitats around the awesome Noah's ark ship of a playground. It WAS such a good plan.
Feelings of refreshment turned to feelings of uneasiness as we sat in the middle of no where, D.R. and wondered what to do. Brief cell phone service allowed us to have a quick convo with a mechanic friend and then broken connection. Jon started the car back up and it sounded like moving parts and metal dying, clanking and cranking. Not good. We decided that we needed to move our van to where people were - just a few miles away. No doubt they heard us coming before we appeared before them, lots of men shooting the breeze on the side of the road. It is so nice here that you can stop and ask people for help, and that there is no fear of harm or foul play. The culture is genuinely helpful.
A dude hopped on his moto and said he'd be right back with a mechanic. And he was. The hood was up and every Dominican male poked his head under it to see what the matter was. Expressions told a story of a major repair to be made. We followed the mechanic one street over to his home, where he and another mechanic began the 9 hour process of disassembling and reassembling the inards of the engine and such. Pieces came out and were lined up along a wall.
Movies were watched until batteries died. Remaining snacks and water was consumed. Dramamine administered only 15 minutes earlier was slept off. The sun moved across the sky, Jon paced and walked about trying to stand in a spot for cell phone service, kids sat on neighbors porches, Annabelle pee'ed in a gulley.
Little ones chattered about still being able to go to the playground. Parents prayed. We had very little cash. The mechanics worked diligently. Men and boys came and went, poking heads under the hood to see progress and insert opinions. The English speaking neighbor across the street, came and went and came and went. Jon watched. Allie played in the dirt and ate guayabas from the neighbor's tree.
We played slaps. The neighbor's sunflowers beckoned us. The ditch became a racing lane, then a home for all kinds of creatures. More praying.
While all of this was going on, our Dominican friend and mechanic drove all the way to the city where we sat (but we didn't know this b/c we had no cell phone service. ) He scoured the highways between here and there searching for us. What a sweet thing that was. But he did not find us. At about 5 pm, pieces were going back in and we prayed and held our breath. At 6 pm, the key was turned - the clanking was louder than before and then a chain broke. A taxi was called and our last $3000 RD was given to fill up his tank. Disappointed, ditch- playing children closed their eyes against the maximized volume of bachata music blaring to a point of uncomfortableness despite plush seats and air conditioning. Dreams of cheeseburgers and monkeys and Noah's ark gave them sweet, sleeping expressions. Jon and I, smooshed between worn out kids, watched the dimming lights on the horizon as we toodled towards home.
A few miles down the road, at last, we had cell service. People had been worried. We had been worried. We made a connection at the Santiago airport, learning that people from the school were there picking up a new student, and discovered that said people had just enough money to cover us for the taxi ride. Wheew. Sigh of relief and prayers answered. At 10:30 p.m. we fed our children and put them in their beds, ourselves flopping thankfully onto our pillows. We fell asleep thanking the Lord for his provision for us, for safety and beautiful weather, for a mechanic who also had otherwise plans for his day before we came along, and content children, even in the midst of disappointment.
We will hit up Wendy's and the monkey playground another day. But today we will remember that there will be days that the best laid plans end up in a ditch . . . with beanie boos and plastic dinosaurs, and that we are to go on praising and praying and relying on Him.
And we will smile at not just the adventure of it all, but at the story of the Lord's faithulness and love for us.