The second journey of Pocket Full of Quarters began at 8:30 A.M. on June 3, 2005. I happily loaded the 1992 camper van with the plan to drive to Bill’s Auto Repair to have the gas tank cleaned out and a new fuel pump installed.

“Wait,” you cry. “Why are you putting your van in the shop? Aren’t you leaving?”

What great questions. I’m leaving but the van is staying in Jacksonville for 2 more weeks, when I’ll return home to retrieve the van, Belle (the dog,) and some additional clothes. I’ll be home only 24 hours and leave again.

The beginning of this journey is going to fulfill a lifelong dream for my Uncle Bobby. He, Aunt Ka Ka, and I will drive his healthy van to New Orleans to board the Mississippi Queen River Boat. There we will spend a week steaming up the muddy Mississippi River to Memphis, Tennessee while learning about the Old South and meeting the people of the area. I have found boats, trains, and planes to be a great place to tell others about God. You can’t beat a captive audience.

While driving across town to Bill’s, the 1992 camper van, which I have now named Hapless, started making a terrible noise. I suspected the “Check Engine Light” wasn’t just a curtesy message. I called my husband, Bob, who suggested I call Bill (our mechanic) and ask him what to do. Bill’s answer was, “It sounds like transmission trouble. Keep it under 50 miles per hour and put your flashers on. I’ll look at it when you get here.”

“This can’t be,” I cried. “I put a new transmission in January, just two days after I bought it.” Since January, Hapless has had a new transmission installed, two bags of leaves cleaned out of the air conditioner, a new sound system and alarm put in, leaky sky lights resealed, a rear view mirror reinstalled, a sewer line replaced, a sewer tank flushed, gas lines checked, and a refrigerator replaced. Do you have any idea how expensive camper refrigerators are?

I limped into Bill’s shop where my Uncle Bobby and Aunt Ka Ka picked me up. I transferred my luggage into their van, hopped in the driver’s seat, and headed down Interstate 10 West to Tallahassee. At Tallahassee, we took a left and toured the beautiful Florida Beaches along Highway 98 (see photo gallery.) We ended the day back on I10 W and spent the first night in DeFuniak Spring, Florida.

I refused to get discouraged when Bob called with the news that poor Hapless had 2 gallons of water removed from his gas tank. No wonder Hapless kept stalling when the needle dipped dangerously close to empty. Hapless doesn’t like water. When Bob said Hapless needed his front end realigned, I wondered if I could get my back end realigned. “How hard is that?” I asked Bob.

Thinking I was referring to Hapless, Bob answered, “Front end realignments are easy unless we find out the van has been in a wreck.” I suspected my realignment wouldn’t be as simple.

As for the transmission, Hapless was transferred to yet another car hospital. When Bob picked him up from Bill’s, he drove Hapless to the transmission shop where Hapless is going to spend a dreary week. It seems as if poor Hapless also has electrical problems. OK God. I’m trying to trust you here. Is Hapless going to make it across the country?

I shouldn’t be surprised that Hapless is having so many troubles. After all, his adoption into our family was the result of a mishap. I wanted a camper van and we couldn’t afford one. Bob patiently said, “Cheryle, we can’t afford a 3rd vehicle.”

“You don’t understand,” I argued. “We don’t need a third car. I’ll use this as my car.”

Bob logically countered. “It makes no sense to trade cars when we have two cars paid off and I’m a full time student.”

True, I thought. Since I wasn’t winning with Bob, I continued the argument with God. Don’t you think a camper van would be better than a tent for this next journey. Surely I’ll be better prepared for your work if I get more sleep. All of these discussions happened just before Christmas 2004.

On Christmas night, after a very long day, Bob decided to put oil in our cute little Sebring convertible. “Don’t do that tonight,” I pleaded. “You’re too tired.” Besides, I wanted to go to bed. As I have mentioned various times before, I don’t win many arguments. I’m just not good at arguing. Bob drug his weary self out to the car at 11:30 PM to feed the Sebring.

The next morning I drove the Sebring a few blocks to a meeting. I noticed smoke coming out of the hood but it was cold so I assumed it was steam. I’d been sitting in the meeting for 10 minutes when someone entered the meeting and asked if anyone had a convertible. Was this a test? Was there a prize? I raised my hand. The man said, “It’s on fire.”

I ran outside to see flames leaping as high as the telephone pole next to it. A red fire truck was already there and men and women in yellow suits were chopping up my Sebring’s hood. “I need to get my cell phone out,” I screamed. The look I got was indescribable.

“Has your car been having any trouble?” a firefighter asked.

“No,” I said. “But my husband did put oil in her last night.

When the fire was finally out, this friendly firefighter called me over to the car. “You might not want to tell your husband this.” He pointed the oil cap, melted firmly to the top of the engine. Bob had forgotten to replace the oil cap the night before. I have got to get better at arguing.

They towed my poor totaled Sebring to the place where all good cars go when they die. I called crying and gently broke the news to my now distraught and humiliated husband. “You could have been hurt,” he said.

“But I wasn’t,” I replied. The insurance money mostly paid for Hapless. It hasn’t come anywhere near paying for the repairs.

I asked Bob if he was discouraged about Hapless. “No, God gave us this van. I asked Him to show us everything that was wrong with it before you leave on Pocket Full of Quarters. I figured that was better than it being revealed a little at a time while you traveled. This may be a case of needing to be careful what you pray for.” I wondered if this was Bob’s lesson or mine.

The truth is, I love Hapless and am grateful for Him. A camper van will make this journey a little easier. I’ve had the words www.pocketfullofquarters and the Sh’ma (Deuteronomy 6:4 – See below) printed on large magnets and placed on his sides. Hapless is comfortable and I look forward to traveling in him. Compared to the tenting of the first journey, Hapless is like living in the lap of luxury. It has been my experience that God provides for my needs. Hapless is mine and I have turned him over to God. He could use your prayers.
Deut 6:5
You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. NASU


Cheryle M. Touchton is the Director of Pocket Full of Change Ministries. For more information or to schedule a speaker for an event, go to www.pocketfullofchange.org or call Cheryle Touchton at 904-614-3585.

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