Friday, August 12, 2016
I had been asked by the youth leader at Orchard Park Bible Church, Sharon Heidebrecht, about arranging and MDS trip for the youth.
On July 2nd I flew to the Yukon Territory tor a couple of weeks as to work on an MDS ( Mennonite Disaster Service ) project to assist with rebuilding a house that had burned down a few years earlier. While I was in the Yukon, I contacted the MDS office and they put me in contact with the Regional Director that was in charge of the organization for a disaster in Kamiah, Idaho, where some homes had been burned down by fires. I was able to arrange for us to go there for a week in August.
When I returned from the Yukon, Sharon had sent out an email to the youth and she had positive responses from two of the youth, Spencer and Braeden Miller. Together with Sharon and her son, Dylan, there were 5 of us ready to go to Idaho.
Unfortunately Sharon became ill, shortly before we were about to leave for our trip to Idaho, so she and Dylan were not able to join us.
Spencer, Braeden and I got together on the Wednesday before our departure and we planned to leave by 8 am Friday morning so that we could make a 3 day trip to Idaho in order to break up the 33 hours of driving into a more relaxing pace.
It was 29 C and muggy when I arrived at the Miller residence, shortly before 8 am and after loading the car, we were on our way.
We reached the border shortly before noon. Armed with our letters from the MDS office stating that we were “ volunteers”, we got into one of the customs lines at the Port Huron border. We each made guesses as to how long it would take us to get through the line and clear customs. Based on the numerous times I have been pulled over and fingerprinted, eye-scanned and put through FBI checks, my guess was 2 hours. We were all wrong.
Getting through the line was a breeze. I had finally picked the right line and we got to see the customs officer in 10 minutes.
Clearing customs went very smoothly, The customs officer was very pleasant and thorough. After giving him our passports, the letter of consent for Braeden and the letters from MDS, he sent us on our way and told us to drive carefully. To my surprise, we didn’t have to get “ paroled “ like the previous 5 times that I had volunteered for MDS in the US.
We left the border and headed West across Michigan. When we reached Flint Michigan, we decided to stop for something to eat. We were listening to Spencer and Braeden’s grandfather, Roger Miller, singing “ King of the Road” when we noticed that the street we were turning off at was called Miller Road. Well, that clinched it; It was definitely “ Miller “ time.
After a bite to eat, we continued southwest towards Chicago and the south end of Lake Michigan. Unfortunately, our luck at the border meant that we would hit Gary Indianna and Chicago, Illinois at rush hour. We encountered several slow sections but we never stopped had to stop, just drive slowly.
And then, when we were almost past the outskirts of Chicago, it rained and rained. We encountered more rain than the Niagara area has had all summer. The rain finally subsided as we got near our destination for the night, Rochester, MN. We found a nice hotel and stopped for the night.
The weather was cooler and drier in Minnesota, but not by much.