300 Thousand - By Annette Ellard and Steve Clark
Lately, it seems the number 300 thousand has popped up a lot in the news. A few days ago, a California man was captured by police and accused of stealing over 300 thousand identities. Folks in Connecticut suffered for weeks after the massive wet snowstorm the last weekend of October. I saw an announcement during the ordeal that the power company hoped it could bring down the number of people without power to 300 thousand by the first weekend in November - a full week after the snowstorm.
On the lighter side, Macy’s announced they plan to expand their New York store at Herald Square to a whopping 39 thousand square feet and create the world’s largest shoe department. They anticipate it will carry more than (wait for it) 300 thousand shoes. (This is news Annette is going to love.)
Annette and I just experienced our own 300 thousand “milestone.” Today, on 11/11/11, the odometer on our ’96 Mercury Villager rolled over to 300 thousand miles! Fittingly, it happened as we were about to park the van for the day in our church parking lot. God shared in our celebration of the HUGE blessing God gave us with this van. What a tremendous asset this van continues to be to our ministry.
Because of that big, red van, refugees from Burma call us the Karen 911. It faithfully starts and takes us to the ER in the middle of the night when our friends have a car accident, a sick child or some other medical emergency. It takes us to social service offices when children are suddenly dropped from Medicaid for no apparent reason. It goes after people who miss the bus and want to go to church on Sunday mornings.
The old workhorse of a van is always dependable to take us to appointments with refugees when they have to go to the doctor and can’t get there by bus, or when they have a disability and need to go to the social security office. Our van always gets us to the worship services in the homes of the Karen people as they celebrate birthdays or want to thank God for blessing them with a new baby, a new apartment, car or job.
It goes without missing a spark, despite the rattling of motor shields underneath, the taped-on driver-side mirror, cracked valve-cover gaskets that leak small amounts of oil,
and torn seats from so many people getting in and out each day. We are always transporting people somewhere. And every day, it leaves with me at 7:15 in the morning to pick up six of the boys of Hope Academy to take them to school. With both routes, one in the morning and one in the afternoon (to take the boys home), more than 70 miles are racked-up on the odometer – unless one of us has an appointment during the day or needs to visit someone after school – then another 30 or 40 miles gets added on.
On Saturdays, we add another 70 miles or so to transport the Hope Academy “Heroes” to their school soccer games. (They’re playing in an indoor league and are doing great.) Right now, we’re piling up about 500 miles each week on the odometer.
Refugees from Burma are always looking for our van. They recognize it, and they wave and smile as we drive through the apartment complexes or through their neighborhoods. When they see our van, I hope it reminds them of how much we love them and want to always be around to share God’s love in any and every way possible.
I wonder how many lives that old van will see loved, encouraged, helped, changed, and saved before it turns over to 400 thousand...