As we were completing the wrapping process, Karen looked at each family printout to locate Jesus and Armando’s family. She wanted to be responsible for delivering gifts to that family. While there were a handful of members named Jesus, we could not locate a family printout matching the family. Mary grew concerned that perhaps we missed a family.
We asked the missionaries, who had spent the day wrapping with us and also preparing the building for the baptism later that night. Karen described the family, and we learned they were investigators.
It was unfortunate that we learned this too late. We were sure we would not see that family again.
By late afternoon, we had all the gifts wrapped and were ready to distribute between the cars. In a few hours, members from the branch leadership would show up to drive with us as we delivered gifts.
Before they arrived, we decided to all head out to town to get an early dinner. Because many of the gifts were in Ramon’s motor home, he had to drive it from the campground to the church. When we left for dinner, many of the participants loaded up in the motor home. As the missionaries had never been in such a vehicle before, they were excited to pile in.
Karen and I left ahead of the motor home, but I didn’t want to get too far in front so I pulled over on the edge of a small police station parking lot to wait for Ramon. I stayed on the edge because most of the parking lot was underwater.
There were three cops standing out near our car not paying any attention to us. I was looking in my rear view mirror and could see the motor home ready to turn from the church parking lot onto the street. Suddenly, it came to a complete stop and the three cops instantly ceased their conversation and looked towards the church.
Ramon’s high-profile motor home had snagged the power lines and severed one of the cables. Part of the broken wire was wrapped around the top of the vehicle and the remainder of the wire was on the ground.
We had no idea if this was a hot electrical wire or a benign phone cable. Caleb decided that since there were no sparks, it had to be a phone line. So he climbed to the top of the motor home and tried to dislodge the tangled cable using a broom – just to be safe. In his attempt, the wire hit his arm and head. Since he didn’t die, Caleb assumed it was a phone line and simply removed the remaining cable by hand.
The cops could see we were all Americans and now had a perfect opportunity to take control.
They motioned for Ramon to drive to the flooded parking lot.
They demanded his identification.
They told him that he could not leave the area until the utility company assessed the damage.
They explained that this was clearly Ramon’s fault and that he would have to pay.
Ramon explained that we were all going to be at the church for several hours and that he wanted to get his passengers food. He asked if he could leave as they waited for the utility company. The cops gruffly refused this request.
Luckily Ramon had a branch member in the motor home. He knew the phone number of a sister in the branch who is a lawyer. He called her and, after her severe tongue lashing, the police officers apologized to Ramon for their rough treatment and said this was the city’s fault.
Evidently, the excessive rain storms had caused power poles all over the city to shift and give in to the weight of the cables. That is why Ramon got into the parking lot without snagging the cables.
It was a great Christmas Eve miracle to have a lawyer as a member of the branch and to have that lawyer aggressive enough to change the minds of the cops. Needless to say, the motor home was no longer used to transport people.
To continue this series, click, Five Hours South of the Border – Christmas Eve: Part III