Crazy Stories with a Point –

This space is all about the crazy things that happen in life. For me, those crazy things have become stories. But not just random stories. They are stories with a point, and sometimes there are a few take-aways as well. Sometimes they will be written out and other times will be shared via video in this space. Look for a new one around the first of every month. Below is the first one, hope you enjoy it.

Lost In … Warsaw. Wait. What?

If you are ever in a foreign country, and you decide to go for a run, but you notice that your phone is dead, well, have I got a story for you! In 2014 I was on a ministry trip in Poland, and was staying with my friends in Warsaw. It was late in the afternoon when I decided to go for a run. I asked my friend Maciek if there was a scenic place nearby and he directed me to a path that ran along a river. “It’s simple”, he told me. “Follow the path. There’s just one way in and one way out”. Sounded simple enough, as I just wanted to run about four miles. I grabbed my phone to sink my Fitbit and noticed I only had about 4% battery life, so I opted not to take it. After, all, just a simple run by the river, right? One way in and one way out. What could go wrong? Dorota, Maciej’s wife was preparing dinner and I told her I would return in about 45 minutes, and out the door I went. I found the path I was directed to easily enough and began to follow the stream. If there was a place where the path turned, I didn’t see it. Instead, I found myself following a path through a forest that came out on a different street than I entered on and I ran along that street for a bit but soon realized that I was in unfamiliar territory. Ok, no big deal, just turn around and retrace my steps. Only one problem. There were several paths exiting the forest and I didn’t know which was mine. After exploring a couple and ending up at dead ends, I was slightly suspecting that I might be a little lost. I saw two ladies down the street, and I noticed they were speaking English so I thought I would ask for directions. One of them asked me if I had a phone, after which I explained I left it behind because the battery was dying. She then asked me if I knew the address or the phone number where I was staying, to which I answered “No, its in my phone”, Feeling a little foolish, I did tell her my friend’s name, which in Poland was about as common as the American name John Smith. She then said something to her friend in Polish, which I suspect was probably something like, “This idiot American has left his phone at home and gotten lost and he doesn’t know the address or phone number where he is staying”. She then told me she thought she knew the street I needed to be on, just a block or so away. She invited me into her car, which was quite hospitable of her, and drove me a couple of blocks and asked me to exit, saying, “I think this is the street you want”, and then drove away. I looked around and saw nothing that looked remotely familiar. Now what? By this time I have been gone about 90 minutes. Back home, Dorota was telling Maciej, “I think Jeff might be lost. He said he would be gone for forty minutes and he isn’t back”, to which Maciej replied, “No he is probably off in the woods somewhere praying in tongues”. Well, he got the ‘praying in tongues’ part right! By now it was getting dark and a little chilly. I decided to walk down the highway, hoping to see something I recognized, but nothing looked familiar at all. I saw what looked like a police station and went and knocked on the door but no one answered. That’s all I have to say about that. I headed back down the highway in the direction I came from. There was a bench across the street from a Catholic Church so I decided I would sit awhile, hoping that someone was looking for me by now. Fifteen minutes later and still no rescue, I changed my plan. I noticed that the Mass had ending at the Catholic Church and thought maybe I could get directions from a priest. I entered the sanctuary in my jogging attire and approached a Priest. “Father”, I said, “I am lost… well not that kind of lost”. However, he didn’t speak English and directed me to the English-speaking Priest. He instructed me to go back about 800 meters where I would encounter the river again, only I was pretty sure it wasn’t the same river. So, no salvation in the church, hmm. At this point, I decided to find my way back to the place I exited the forest and ask God to have mercy on this poor boy and lead me through. It was dark, and I was cold and a little desperate, and by this time Maciej and friends have been worried and are out searching for me. As I was running up the street toward the forest, I heard this very still, small, voice inside of me telling me to take the street on the right. It was opposite the way I thought I should have been going, but at this point, I was willing to take the chance that it might be the Lord. It is a short street that intersects with a bigger road. As I am getting near the end of the street, I see a van coming down the road and my friends are waving at me at the window. A happier site and a more joyful reunion, I may never know. I was lost, but now I was found. Words cannot express the relief I felt. On a larger scale, I understood what it truly means to be lost, to have no resources, no language, no advocate, no way home, outside of Jesus. I am happy to be living in the state of ‘found’. So…if you are ever in a foreign country, and you decide to go for a run, and your phone is dead…well, you know what NOT to do.

Until next time, may you run with the wind at your back and your batteries fully charged! Jeff


Oh Lord, stuck in Grainfield again…

“Left Kansas City this morning driving my son’s car, loaded with some of his stuff back to CA. Had it checked out first, planned to make Glenwood Springs CO. A few hours later, the transmission starts jerking and not shifting, then goes out.

I limped off the freeway at the Grainfield KANSAS. What’s there? Not much. Dust, dust in the wind. And a car dealership and a gas station where you can’t use the bathroom. Why? Because of covid. What to do? I know – rent a 10 ft U-Haul with a tow trailer and tow the car back to CA. So I call U-Haul. Nearest U-Haul with a trailer? 170 miles away. So that’s out. The day just keeps getting better. Ok, how about a car rental. Closest one is 70 miles away in Hays. What’s in Hays? Dust and an Enterprise Car Rental. They have a car if I can get there in two hours. I can tow my car and leave it there. Cool. 30 minutes later I am still trying to navigate my car insurance road hazard coverage only to find that they will not cover my son’s car, but they can tow me to Hays for $450. Ok. Can I ride with the tow truck driver? No. Because of Covid. So that’s out. The lady at Enterprise gave me a taxi phone # so I call them. They have to come from Hays to get me and take me back to Hays. I will arrive half-hour after Enterprise closes and they will not wait for me. OK, at this point, whateeeeveeeer. Hmm. Staring to wonder if I should start a ‘go fund’ me page to free me from Kansas.

Taxi finally arrives and I have a pleasant conversation with Barney, my driver, who fell in love with a young lady and dated her through High School with hopes of marriage. That is until she told him she decided to enter a convent and become a nun. Poor Barney. His life falls apart for a few years but he maintains a relationship with the girl’s father and still visits him in Hays often. Fast forward 10 years. He calls the girl’s father and guess who answers? The Nun. Only she is not a ‘real’ nun because she never took her vows because she wasn’t sure. Barney hightails it to Hays and they have now been married 47 years. Good on you Barney.

Now I am at a Hotel. I get in my room and wonder if the hotel has a shuttle to get me to Enterprise. Hmm. No phone in the room. So I take the stairs three flights down to ask the desk manager. Because of covid. And the elevator is slow and no one is wearing a mask and they are touching things. “Do you have a shuttle available?” I ask the desk clerk? “No, but there is Uber”. Back up three flights to my room. Ok, maybe I will watch TV. Hmm. No remote. Back down three flights to tell the desk manager. “I don’t have a remote for my TV and there is no phone in my room.” “No phone?” she asks. “No, no phone. I wouldn’t really need one except to call you and tell you my remote is not working”. She gives me a new remote. Back up three flights. Remote doesn’t work. Back down three flights. “Sorry, I can put you in the room next to yours if you like”. I hadn’t unpacked yet so I said it would be OK. “Do you have your room key, I can recode it for you”. OK great, my key is now recoded for the next room. Back up three flights. Key works in new room but now doesn’t open the door in the old room where all my stuff is. Back down three flights. Another key for old room. Back up three flights. Move into new room. Reserve car for tomorrow.

Tomorrow I will drive back to Grainfield and transfer the stuff from the other car to the rental. A salvage yard will take the old car. Goal for tomorrow. Reach Grand Junction, CO. When I cross from Kansas into Colorado I can’t wait to say to myself the famous phrase, “We’re not in Kansas anymore Toto! Hallelujah and Amen!

Still, with everything else going on in the world, guess it’s not that big of a deal.

A friend asked me what I learned from this adventure. Here are a few things I took away from the experience.

1. Attitude is everything – God is always in control and He is always near.

2. See the humor in life – We are not the center of the universe. And sometimes when we think we are, God laughs at us and I’m ok with that.

3. Try to remember that the slow-driving person in front of you has someone in life that loves them and thinks they are great. Or not, but it’s a good thought!

4. It takes more work to be angry and complain than it does to smile and bless people who are generally trying to do their best.

5. If you switch out the ‘i’ and the ‘a’ in ‘trials’, they become ‘trails’, and Ps 23 says that He always leads us in trails of righteousness for His name’s sake. In other words, if we pay attention, even our trials lead us back to His heart.

6. Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home🏠