The Longest 24 Hours EVER

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It is estimated that we will need to travel to 300 churches before leaving for South Africa. This would obviously be less of a challenge if Brent and I were just traveling alone. :)  Adding seven children to the constant road trips makes for a, shall we say, more interesting experience.

Housing all nine of us could present a burden for some churches, so in an effort to make things easier–and to give our family some semblance of routine and structure–we were so blessed to be able to purchase a travel trailer to pull behind our 15 passenger van.

The Trailer:


The RV guy did a great job explaining how everything works on the trailer…..but of course, we promptly forgot once we got home. :) Since we didn’t want to be parked at a church the first time we messed everything up hooked up the trailer, we decided to take the trailer out for a trial-run-weekend. I’m sure you’ll agree that it was a good idea, once you read about how our weekend actually went. :)

We planned to leave on a Friday morning and return home the following Monday. I intended to finish all of the laundry and pack the entire trailer the day before.

Insert first twist in our plans: We had a major storm Thursday afternoon and promptly lost power. Here I was, sitting in a dark house, with nothing ready to cook for dinner, and no way to finish the laundry and load the trailer.

We spent the afternoon in town, basically killing time, came home, put the children to bed, and sat in the dark until we finally decided to just go to bed and get everything done in the morning. Our power returned at 10:30 p.m.

I woke up early on Friday, hoping to make up for the time lost on Friday. I immediately felt very sick and headed to the bathroom—where I remained for over an hour, taking care of stomach-flu-business-which-shall-remain-unnamed.

 I crawled out of the bathroom and told Brent the lovely news. :) He offered to stay home, but I knew the importance of this weekend and decided to push through the day as planned.

So, I packed a little, sat a little, packed a little, slept a little, packed a little, visited the bathroom a little—you get the idea. It took us 8 hours before we were finally ready to pull out of the driveway.

We stopped to feed our children a very late lunch (and I made the mistake of eating a little bit), then stopped again at Wal-Mart to pick up some hosing for the trailer. I tried going into Wal-mat with Brent, but by this point, I was feeling awful. When I had resorted to sitting on the floor, rocking back and forth, in the middle of the store, Brent sent me to the van.

He returned with the hosing and noticed an almost-flat-tire on the trailer. We pulled into a “mom and pop” place just as they were closing for the day. (YES, it was 5 pm and we were all of 20 minutes from our house.) At this point, we were considering turning around and heading home :)

The tire people graciously offered to stay after and fix our tire. Brent got on the phone with the warranty company and I unbuckled the little ones and thought I’d let them all play in a small grassy area near the shop. Noah said he was tired and stayed in the van.

Standing up proved to be too much, and I instantly knew my lunch was about to come back up. I waved at Brent (who was still on the phone) and yelled back at the older girls, “Don’t let the little ones get hit by a car!” and ran back to the van. I found an empty bag and tried to lean my head into the front of the van because of course the tire guy was working on my side of the van. “Puke quietly. Puke quietly.” I whispered to myself.

I finished my business, and tied up the bag. I walked around for a minute, trying my best to find a TRASH CAN but none were to be found. Nice. Doggy bag, anyone?

Just as I sat back down near the grass (with the nasty doggy bag at my side), I heard Noah screaming in the van. Brent was still on the phone so I hunched, crawled, moaned ran to Noah, just in time to stick a bag under his chin and catch his lunch.

Now the doggy-bag-count was up to two and I was running out of empty bags–and hands to carry vomit with. I opened up the trailer and emptied out several grocery bags onto the floor (and the trash can, to hold our doggy bags) and quickly brought them back to Noah. Good thing, too, because he threw up THREE more times before an hour was up.

They finished our tire, so we loaded everyone up and continued down the road. I won’t take the time to tell you about the traffic jam we sat in forever or how we ended up lost and dead-ended at a Naval Weapons Station because we lost our cell-phone signal and our GPS stopped working. Just picture Brent with his arm out the window, holding his phone above the van and telling it to “PLEASE work!” :)

At 8:30 p.m., we pulled into a Taco Bell to feed our starving children. I carried Noah, who by this point was weak and moaning. Talk about the blind leading the blind—I felt like he was acting. We lined everyone up for the bathrooms and looked back to see Noah laying down on Taco Bell’s FLOOR. I bent down to pick him up when he started throwing up again. We cut in line and rushed him to the toilet, leaving a Hansel-and-Gretel like trail behind us.

I cleaned up the floor while Brent ordered food for the seven still-eating-family-members. Noah and I rocked and moaned in the corner while everyone else ate their dinner. :)

We pulled into the campground at 10:00 p.m. Somehow, we turned a 2 and 1/2 hour trip into an all-day-adventure. Now we had to unhook the trailer from the van and hook up the water and sewer–IN THE DARK. That was an especially nice touch.

 I kept the littlest ones buckled into the van while Brent worked on the hook-ups. We discovered the water hookup was broken when water started spewing in Brent’s face. Thankfully, the campground night manager was available—He was such a blessing, helping us get everything hooked up and ready for use.

We piled into the trailer at 11:00 p.m. Noah crashed immediately and everyone else lined up to use the potty before bed.

One toilet plus eight people equals thirty minutes.

At 11:30 p.m., Brent and I fell into bed. Noah moaned all night long and I think we got up with him about 30,000 times. (slight exaggeration, I know)

I woke up the next morning feeling like a million buck (NOT) and ready to face the day! :)

Welcome to life on the road, folks.

Since it can’t get much worse than THIS 24 hours, I think the remainder of our trips will seem like a serious piece of cake. :)

(For the record, there were more than one problems with the water pipes in the trailer, and the entire underbelly flooded over the weekend. We dropped it off on the way home and they fixed the leaks BUT they also have to replace all of the cabinets due to water damage underneath. But who’s counting?)

 The Trailer, again: (but NOT on the longest-24-hours-ever weekend, because I was too sick to take a single picture)


11 Responses to The Longest 24 Hours EVER

  1. I did not know whether to laugh or cry but I did love the way the story was told:). I love the website and I loved hearing Johanna’s story. All your kids are beautiful! God bless these precious kids in Africa that need a hug and love!

  2. Bless your hearts! We have fun adventures like that all the time! Never stops to amaze me hoe when we camp we always seem to set up in the dark!!!! Blessing to your family and keep blogging! It it’s a great way to create a memory!!!

  3. This story is just soooo amazing yRhings like this just don’t happen to people you know. You and your family visited our church tonight and were such a blessing. I only wish I had recorded your family sing the “Fathers Day” song. I don’t think there was a dry eye in church. Especially when everyone started singing the chorus. The little 4 year old was just the cutest ever. I’m glad you Re noe part if our church family and missionaries. You are such a blessing and you’re in our thoughts and prayers!!!

  4. Really great story. Be sure to write book when your adventure is done. Your family was such a blessing tonight at church. Enjoyed your husband’s preaching also, a new perspective on 5 loves and 2 fishes. Praying 4 U !

  5. Really great story. Be sure to write a book when your adventure is done. Your family was such a blessing tonight at church. Enjoyed your husband’s preaching also, a new perspective on 5 loaves and 2 fishes. Praying 4 U !

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