Day 95 – On the eve of day 95, Jacin and I felt the pull to find a church to attend in the morning. So, we googled churches in the area (truly, what on earth would we do without internet?), and we picked one that sounded like home. So, we got up early enough to get the family ready and headed to Parkway Life church in Lumberton, TX. Everyone was so welcoming, knew that we were new visitors, and we even got a Parkway Life mug as a gift. The music and the service were great, very charismatic. The sermon was somehow extremely appropriate to our current situation (how is it that a Pastor, no matter where you are, knows exactly what you need to hear?), entitled “You’ve Got What it Takes,”, addressing how God only gives us as much as we can handle. After church, we headed back to camp to get packed up and head out. Louisiana offered a lovely rain storm, followed by an amazing 18-mile-long bridge over the swamps. At one point, Jacin “felt” something strange, so he pulled over to check the tires, which had been nothing but problems the last few days. He checked everything over, but didn’t notice anything wrong, so we headed down the road again. Maybe two miles later, we blew tire #3 on the front driver’s side. We called roadside assistance (even though they hadn’t been able to provide assistance on the previous two blowouts), and after making several calls, waited 2 hours for help to never show up. So, Jacin and Nation walked back to the closest exit to a truck stop we had called when we first blew the tire, to see if they happened to have someone who could help (even though they weren’t helpful with the phone call effort). The truck stop is called Tiger Truck Stop, so you won’t be surprised to know they have Tigers on display…. Within 30 minutes, we had assistance swapping out the spare and were on the road again. During our wait, we discussed whether it was a good idea to try to continue on to the state park where we had made reservations for that night, and we decided that rather than pressing our luck, we would stay in the nearest RV park and hit a Baton Rouge tire shop the next morning to replace the rest of the tires. So, we stopped just 10 short miles down the road in Port Allen and called it a night.
Day 96 – We were up early to hit the tire shop. Jacin got a quote of $3000 to replace the remaining 4 tires, which made me throw up. That was more than twice as much as the two tires we had replaced on the side of the road in TX!!! So, I went in with Jacin and had the guy recheck his math, which ended up shaving $1000 off the quote. Phew! So, we unhooked the truck to let them do their magic and journeyed off to find an alternator repair shop in hopes that they might be able to fix the slide pump motor that Jacin was able to slip off easily that morning. The repairman first looked into ordering a replacement, which would cost $100-$200, plus we’d have to wait on shipping time. But, he was willing to take a peak inside and see if there was anything he could do. So, we left the motor with him and headed to a local mall to ill some time. We checked out our first Big Lots, then went to a thrift store where we picked up a few new books. The repairman called and had worked his magic – he was able to get the motor running with a minor clean up job! Praise God! So, we picked up the motor and headed to the tire shop to check on their progress. Not good news. They had switched out the front two tires, but the rear driver’s side wheels were completely bound up and could not be removed. They worked on them for several hours to no avail, so we just loaded up the last two tires and headed to New Orleans, praying that we would not have any additional blow outs during the 80-mile venture. We made it safe and sound to Bayou Segnette State Park, a nice large campground with a pool and free laundry! Jacin spoke with the campground host and got a number for an on-site repairman to contact tomorrow. He also installed the pump motor, and praise God, the slides worked! On a very sad note, we found out that Roxie, Jacin’s aunt, has Stage 4 malignant brain tumors, so we will be keeping her family in our prayers. It certainly made us realize just how small and petty our problems have been, even though they’ve seemed insurmountable at times. Perspective…
Day 97, Tuesday, July 30 – Jacin left early to head to a State Farm certification class in New Orleans. He was able to walk down Bourbon Street and the French Quarter a bit during lunch. I worked most of the day, and Justice caught up on laundry that had not been done in a while because it had been trapped in a closet behind the slide. The kids and I did go swimming and toured around the state park a bit. It was a long class day for Jacin, but he felt good about being there and what he had learned. He was home by 6:00, and we had a quiet night.
Day 98 – Jacin was up early and headed to the city for another day of class. He had a good day learning the estimating process of State Farm, and surprisingly, he ran into a familiar Rapid City face over his lunch hour, the daughter of one of his mom’s friends. What a small world! I worked again for quite a bit of the day, even taking a bike ride to the nearest post office to mail out a couple of tax returns. I can’t even describe what it feels like to exercise in such heat and humidity. I sweat more in 5 minutes outside in Louisiana than during an hour of Insanity!!! Once back, the kids and I went swimming again. They worked on a bit of school work to keep themselves busy and gear their brains up for the real deal, which is soon coming! In bed Jacin and I discussed our next step. We are both feeling anxious regarding what will happen after his training, not really knowing whether work will result quickly, and if not, where we are supposed to go. The financial pressure after the whole tire fiasco is a bit overwhelming at times, but we are trying to stay strong in our belief that God brought us here for a reason. We will see what the next several days of training bring.
Day 99 – Yet another day into the city for Jacin. He had a very positive morning as the company presented itself and their work opportunities. Jacin was in touch with a tire company, and they came out to the RV to attempt to whack the rear tires off. The poor young man gave it his all for almost 2 hours, then let me know that his boss would come out that evening to try himself. The kids and I swam again and also worked on schoolwork. Jacin got home early, so Justice and I headed to the grocery store while Jacin and Nation waited on the bossman. When Justice and I got back, we were so pleased to see that the old tires were laying next to the work truck! The boss and his brother didn’t have it easy, but they were able to break them loose without applying heat. Praise God!!!
Day 100 – It really feels crazy typing 100. Hard to believe it’s been so long, really. Jacin headed to New Orleans to take his State Farm Cert tests. He called around 10:00 to say that he had completed his first test, the estimating portion, in 20 minutes. He passed with a 100%! He had several hours until the next test began, so he headed out to tourist around in the French Quarter again. He called again at 2:00 to let us know that he passed the policy portion of the test with an 84%. We were so proud of him, and he was relieved to have the tests done. Rather than come home right away, he did yet another bit of touring so he could participate in a Q&A session that afternoon. I worked quite a bit of the day, but found time to go swimming with the kids again.
Day 101, Saturday, Aug 3 – Jacin headed back to the city yet again to participate in the Louisiana Citizens certification. The class was pretty dull, as it was just a refresher of most of what he’d learned in previous classes he’d taken, but he signed up for a level 2 class to be held on Monday in the company’s Hammond office, with the hopes that he’d get a chance to make more contacts and see the work environment. The kids and I rode our bikes to a Farmer’s Market that was advertised on the city’s website, but there was nothing there when we arrived. So, we headed back to camp so Justice could catch a phone call with her best buddy in Rapid City, time much needed to ease her homesickness. We of course went swimming. Jacin was home early, so we decided to drive around a bit and see what there was to see. We checked out a church he had been eyeballing on his various trips to town. He also gave us some short tours of areas he’d been able to visit, including pointing out a lot filled with movie trucks (we assume for a Costner movie being filmed in the area), and we even got to take our truck on a ferry from Algiers to New Orleans.
Day 102 – We made it to the 9:00 service at Celebration Church and enjoyed the worship service singing familiar songs. The church, including the entire service (announcements, ordering, and all), was very similar to Open Bible. They had a bookstore, where we picked up a few clearance fiction books for evening enjoyment. After church, we headed to the French Quarter to experience the Satchmo Summerfest music festival and all the vendors. It was SOOO hot and humid, but we had a good time. The kids and I decorated coconuts, and we had some local cuisine off the vendor carts (a crepe with Nutella and bananas for Nation, red rice and beans for me, and fried fish for Jacin – nothing for Justice as she was too hot to eat). We headed back to camp to cool off in the pool. Then Jacin and I found the nearest RedBox and picked up a couple of movies for the evening. We watched Rise of the Guardians and had Frosties for dinner (making memories, let me tell you!).
Day 103 – Jacin had to leave very early to get to Hammond by 8:00, and he got to see a beautiful sunrise over Lake Pontchartrain. I worked for a few hours, then the kids helped me go through all of our treasures and belongings to determine what could be given away (I know, right, can you believe we have a “Goodwill” pile while on the road?), and what we could at least send home and not keep with us in the RV. We also did roughly 300 loads of laundry :), then attempted to go swimming, but the gate was locked. So, I let the kids watch National Treasure while I read for a little while, then started on dinner. Jacin got home pretty late and was discouraged. We were hoping and believing that today would be a future-determining day, but there is simply no work right now due to no storms. So, we really have no idea where we are going or what we are doing next. That is a first on this trip. We tried to keep our mind off of it by playing games with the kids, then really didn’t talk much about it at bed time. Just needing everything to sink in, needing to pray, hoping that sleeping on it will help…
Day 104 – Tuesday, August 6 – Well, we are hunting for our next move today. Jacin and I have spent the morning scoping out state parks in Texas, and calling on camp host openings in several of them. The first few calls were discouraging, as they had no openings, but then Jacin talked to a couple of parks who are in need of help now. We have submitted applications and are praying that this will result in something. It is just after lunch time, and since we don’t really have a solid plan yet, we are going to stay here at Bayou Segnette at least one more night while we wait for things to come together. Our family in San Marcos has been encouraging to come back and stay with/near them, so we are looking at parks in that area. God knows, and we are doing what we can to move with his direction. We are hoping to know more very soon. Thank you to each person who is lifting us up in prayer and supporting our adventure with positive thoughts. While I’d like to report that we have been nothing but strong and peaceful about all of the ups and downs, it would be a lie. We trust God, absolutely, but that doesn’t always prevent us from being confused about where we are right now. We have no doubt he is using this adventure to mold us, but we should know that won’t be easy, right? We are grateful for our adventures up to this point, and that we are able to spend this time with our kids and see country that we never seen before. And so we try to keep on a good face and take each minute as it comes. Those of you who know us well know that that is not an easy task for this bunch, but it is good. We will keep you posted…