Archive for January, 2011

11 Lessons Learned Doing A Cadre In The 2011 ATL Ice Storm

1. Doing ministry alone is never fun: It’s like something was holding back the ice and snow and it just unleashed in a 30 minute time span. The minute it hit, we called off the Master’s Commission Atlanta (MC ATL) students driving but unfortunately a few were already at the airport or on their way back. I immediately headed by myself toward the airport around 285 East and sent Rey with the van down 85 South. I’ve been around the block too many times, I typically don’t get scared. But guess what, I was petrified. Cars were spun out in the ditch before me, then I was weaving around a 6 car pile-up, then a 20 car pile-up. It was nuts! I think if someone had been riding shotgun next to me, we would have still been nervous but felt the peace of having each other (yes, yes, I know Jesus was with me). I was glad Rey had Angela, but don’t you know the tipping ease of a 15-passenger vans was going through my head. I limped along to the airport and finally made it about an hour later, Rey about a ½ hour after that.

2. Know your limits: I had to make the call at the airport. Put these 7 ladies and 4 MC in a van and head 25 miles up 85 to the apartments or find a hotel. I had confidence I could make it, but zero confidence in the hundreds of ATL drivers currently stuck on the road. The 2 drivers who had a head start back took 3 hours to get there, who knows what it would have taken us an hour and hundreds of accidents later. Dumb, dumb, dumb are the only words to describe ATL drivers as I watched them slam on their brakes on the way to the airport. And, I know the 8 Atlanta salt trucks weren’t going to be of much help either.

My sis works for Marriott, so she was quick to get us some rooms, but unfortunately the shuttle couldn’t get up the hill. Oops. For those that don’t know it, navigating the hills of Georgia is different than the cornfields of Indiana. Called another hotel, when we went to get on the van there were a good 20 people in front of us. I would have weaved my way through, but there were 12 (7 ladies, 4 MC and me) of us. I am good, but not that good. Plus, that hotel was not taking reservations, if you made it on the van, you got a room.

3. You take your fun with you: We normally go all out on Cadres. There were 20+ MC girls at Jeanne’s and 20+ MC guys at my place waiting to serve the 52 ladies coming in. The roads were treacherous and the hills going up to both the apartments and Jeanne’s house were virtually impassable during the daylight. We had to move the Cadre from Jeanne’s house to the MC apartments since, while we might get them to Jeanne’s, it would be impossible to get them back to the apartments that night. Initially, we thought about doing one big slumber party at Jeanne’s and my house, but 70+ women and 20+ guys with 7 bathrooms and 5 showers between us is a bit much. So, we had one shot to get everything, along with a small team of people, to the apartments on the people mover. So, off went the food, tokens and a team of 12 in the Beast (our people mover). Andy followed behind in his truck with the chairs. The 12 on the people mover and a handful of MC students at the apartments worked their hearts out. As I say, “they did their very best.” And you know what? Their “very best” was AMAZING! They killed it because they “chose” to bring their fun with them. People sacrificed sleep, their apartments, their everything. I’m not sure if my favorite Kodak moment was seeing Anders put together the cheese tray on the bathroom sink or the bathtub lined with towels being used as a cupboard for the pots and pans. If I had seen it, it probably would have been Rey carrying a stack of chairs up the icy hill only to have them fall on his head (no, I’m not cruel, he laughed too).

4. Rey will live down the jokes: Four MC students and I slept in one hotel room. Rey was the lone male. He got the floor. He’s only been teased a few times about sleeping with four women that night. Rey is one of the manliest men out there. I don’t think there is anyone else I would have rather had by my side. His very presence brings peace.

5. If you stay calm, everyone stays calm: Once we were all together at the airport, there was a lot of laughter. The laughter eased the tension and made everything ok.

6. Sometimes things just don’t make sense: Planes that would have landed well before the storm were cancelled. In the midst of the worst part of the storm, ones that should have been cancelled were still landing. My only conclusion (i.e. story I could make up that made any sense) was that the airlines had to strategically figure out where it wanted the planes after the storm was over. Thus, they cancelled some and let others go.

7. Wear a stickin’ coat: I am an idiot. When it comes to everyone else, I play a game with myself called “worst case scenario” and plan accordingly. When it comes to myself, I have a tendency to wing it. Dumb, dumb, dumb.

8. Pay attention to details: I was so rattled when I got to the airport, I didn’t notice that I had hit the wrong button and rolled down part of my back driver’s side window. 12 hours later I had a nice pile of snow in my backseat.

9. Sometimes things work and other times they don’t: I was worried about ice and morning traffic during rush hour on our airport runs Wednesday, so we sent two groups via the Marta (train) with an MC travel assistant. One group got there just like anticipated, the other not so much. They still made their planes with time to spare, just wasn’t so smooth because Marta was still trying to get their act together. After that we opted to take everyone straight to the airport ourselves. The Marta was worth a shot, just not a second one.

10. Prayer works: My car that I haven’t made the first payment on yet didn’t get hit. The MC students caught in the storm on the way back from the airport didn’t get hit. Brian, the toothless wonder and driver who took us to the Econolodge (yep, can you say last resort) made it to the hotel safe after nearly driving us into a ditch because he was following another driver too close. I prayed against bed bugs at the Econolodge and, to my knowledge, no one saw or got bit by any. I successfully weaved through a 6 car pile-up, 20 car pile-up and a whole lot of jack-knifed semi’s. And the list goes on…

11. Some things happen for a reason. Is it God? I don’t know, but too Him be the glory regardless: In October, somehow the MC gang popped 3 tires and bent a rim on the red van within a week. Taking it off road by the ball fields probably didn’t help. Were the tires bad and totally unrelated to them? Probably, but at the time, as the keeper of the budget, I wasn’t a happy camper. But rather than put used tires on it again (we thought old red was about to retire, but she came back to life), I told the boys to get new ones all around. It is probably the very thing that kept the van on the road during Rey’s trek down and back up 85.

Two ladies came in at the crack of dawn on Monday morning. When they told me they would make it in, I secretly thought “I’ll hope and pray it in, but fat chance.” Because the hotel was near the airport, the pickups were a cinch and I didn’t have to worry about anyone else making a run. Had we had to run after them from 25 miles North, it probably would have taken awhile.