Concerned that the dish might spill if left alone on the floor of the back seat of our Ford Focus, I straddled the crock pot Sunday morning and held the blueberry pie on my lap. Saturday evening I had browned ½# of hot Italian sausage with chopped white onion and threw it into the crock pot along with a 2 cans of this, whatever was left in that bottle there, some frozen corn here, and a dash, naturally, of Mrs. Dash. As Joel turned the car onto 67th Avenue North, I smiled and said in a mock-reporter’s voice, "at the scene of the accident, the body was covered in what appeared to be her guts. Fortunately, it turned out only to be the remains of a pot of chili" (I know, I know…not exactly a spiritual contemplation for the ride to church on a beautiful Sunday morning). The space of 3 hours of Sunday school and the morning worship service was long enough for the crock pot to heat the chili on it’s low setting. We all loaded our plates and bowls with samples from the variety of dishes that the families had brought to the monthly fellowship meal, then sat down on folding chairs that lined the rows of white paper-clothed tables in the church basement. When both our bellies and our social curiosities were sated, we gathered our half-empty dishes and returned home.
We had been admonished to either find alternate routes or leave a few minutes early that afternoon in order to avoid arriving late to the evening service. Occasionally, the Minnesota Vikings have Sunday home games that increase traffic on 35W. So, Joel chose to take highway 100 to "Crosstown" 62, even though it would mean missing out on the of the setting sun reflected against the Minneapolis skyline. Approaching from the south, we saw the Diamond Lake Lutheran church closer up. We turned onto 58th after passing the clean stone building with it’s reddish roof. In the neighborhood, only the raw stumps remained of many trees that had been marked the week before; the once majestic trunks humiliated with bands of orange spray paint had vanished. A few blocks in, we arrived at the intersection where Providence Reformed Baptist Church is located. "Where to park?" Two cars filled the space to the right where we had parked that morning, but our usual spot, straight ahead, was vacant. We proceeded through the intersection, parked, locked the doors and crossed the street to the church building.
A congregational meeting had been called for after the regular evening service. Non-members left and one family sent their children home with older siblings; only two children waited outside the main part of the building.
Providence is pretty close to the Minneapolis airport. A service does not pass uninterrupted by the roar of two or three planes passing low overhead, so loud noises aren’t necessarily alarming. How quickly a few of the men of the church jumped up a few minutes into the business meeting, surprised me. Now, I can’t even recall well enough how the "thump-bump" sounded to relate to you. We could hear the "HEY, HEY, HEY!" of a Chanski voice yelling as the squeal of tires and roar of an automobile’s engine pressed through the church walls. By then, most of the small congregation had left their pews to see what exactly had happened out of doors. Not sure what to do, I just sat and prayed. Not much time passed before one of the ladies returned. "Well, the good news is that nobody was hurt. The bad news is that your car pretty much got the worst of it. The back windshield is completely gone." A sly smile slowly spread across my face. Good thing Joel forgot to leave the Ford Focus with me on Friday, or else the estimate would have been premature…(we had planned to have his headlight repaired).
Two of the Chanski’s took off after the hit&runner but to no avail. We had no license plate number; only a headlight and piece of green truck remained as evidence.
To stay out of doors made me shudder in the cool November night air, so I returned to the sanctuary. Pastor wrapped up the business meeting by answering a few questions, while the car owners waited for the police to come to file a report. Our Focus had been forced about 6 feet forward where it pushed another car into the rear end of another church member’s mini van. Apparently, the men made calls to the insurance agents while debating whether or not it would be necessary to call a tow truck.
The lunch fellowship meal and a ½ square of dark chocolate in the afternoon kept my stomach from growling, but I accepted Michelle’s offer of a thin (yes, there is such a thing) brownie, as we waited inside. Occasionally, the one of the men would come in to update us on their attempts to convince the police that they were taking an unexcuseably long period of time to arrive at the crime scene. About 1 ½ hours after the accident, I dared the others to order a pizza to see if the delivery guy or the police car would show up first. 30 minutes later, when the police still had not arrived, we regretted not taking my joke more seriously.
I suppose that Joel will give more details on the goings on out of doors when he records the evenings events from his perspective. Although the man who hit and ran may for now have gotten away without having to pay for our vehicle damage, we are thankful to the Lord that no people were hurt. We are also thankful for the time of fellowship with people in the church. Friendship is priceless.