Our trip out to Columbus, Ohio for Challenge (the national E-Free conference for students) didn’t start out as planned, but when all was said and done, we had a good time, and no one was hurt! Thank you for your prayers! I truly believe that God has something awesome planned for us this week. Below is a summary of day one written by Ben Brown, who is on the trip with us. Enjoy!

So, while I would love to tell the story about how we rolled the van, Alex almost died,, and then in the mess of it all Becky’s feet were cut off, I as the Challenge blogger Ben Brown am obligated to tell the truth.

Yesterday we set out from the church at 6AM.  It seemed to be going well, when an hour and a half later the tire on the right front of the van blew.  At that point everyone was now awake those who had been sleeping.  D, using his expert Nascar skills was able to safely get us to the side of the road.  We spent the next 45 minutes changing the tire.  When we finished, Alex said, “Well, that’s good.  The worst thing that could happen has already happened to us.”  So when we got back in the van, D turned the key and the engine would not start.  Thanks Alex.

We called the car rental company and they promised to send a mechanic out to help us.  2 hours later we got a call from him that he didn’t think a jumpstart would help so he wasn’t coming.  (I won’t go into detail about the crazy drivers who nearly hit us many times on the side of the road, like the one semi that was driving past the white line into the “lane” we were in and then realized what was happening 30 feet from us).  D called back the rental company and they made sure he came out this time.  So half an hour later he came out and looked at the car.  He told us it wasn’t the battery, it was the  Fuel Reset Button.  When there’s jolting action to a car, the fuel is shut off to the engine.  After explaining it to us and then looking for a while, he told us who couldn’t find it and then left.  We kept looking, found it and headed out.  It was now about 10:15.  The tire popped at 7:15.

So now the going was good.  For a while.  Becky was not wearing her seatbelt while lying down in the van.  Then one of students got the idea that she should be wearing her seatbelt.  So he loosely wrapped it around her ankles and she shrugged it off.  Then he tied it again around her ankles more tightly now.  ( I can’t seem to remember what student it was who did it.  I think his name started with B and he was 15.  Quite an eccentric character.)  Becky didn’t this time to get it off.  I think she fell asleep even.  Well, what this Ben character didn’t know was that the belt would lock so you couldn’t pull it out and as her legs hung, the rope tightened.  So now we had a girl trapped in a seatbelt.  (really none of this would have happened if she had simply been obeying the law.  I think God was trying to tell her something.  Maybe.)  When Becky woke up she realized she was in a lot of pain and the seatbelt would not come off.  Not good.  So after the kids tried to get the belt off and failed, D decided to stop and get her out.  He couldn’t so now her feet are amputated.  Just kidding. D got her out and it was quite a painful experience as described to me by Becky.

PizzaWe got back on the road, but at noon, we had to stop in Iowa City because the car rental company wanted to change the tires on it now.  ( A bit too late I think).  So we had lunch and an hour and a half later we were back on the road until we got to Chicago.  I was so happy.  We got to Chicago at 6Pm, 12 hours after we had left.  (It is supposed to be a 6 hour drive)  We met up with Jill’s sister and traveled around the city with her, along with eating Chicago’s deep dish pizza.  Great time.

So yeah, as our first day going out, I will use Braden’s one word quote to describe the day.  “WOW.”–Braden.   It was a great, fun, painful, and trying day, but God got us through it.  This morning, Sara was quite excited it was a new day, hoping there wouldn’t quite as many adventures as there were yesterday.  Well, I know God has adventures for us, but I to am hoping that they aren’t similar to the ones we had yesterday, but much better ones.  Pray for us as we enter the first session today at 7pm, (an hour ahead of Iowa time) and the rest of the week.  I will end this blog session and find something else to do on this car ride.  I will probably write a story that‘s even more exciting than this one.  See you all later!

–Ben Brown, blogger of the Harvest Challengers

Also, don’t forget to check out our Flickr site to see pictures from our trip!