Prayer for Paradise

Today I was surprised to learn that Paradise, California is being evacuated due to a wildfire. In the late 70’s I was a pastor in Merced, California. In our Region, the church in Paradise was among our strongest. The pastor was a fierce table tennis competitor. I always thought it would be fun to tell people “I am the pastor of Paradise.” Today, I think being the pastor of Paradise could be daunting. I hope the congregation is still strong. I hope not too many of the people of the church or the church building itself are in direct danger. I hope the church is able to find a way to serve the community. I’m sure that Church World Service (where our Week of Compassion dollars go) has already contacted the church and offered to help in whatever they need. So Paradise is in my prayers tonight.

I want to give a thumbs up to my Motel 6 in West Des Moines.

The other two motels in close proximity were over $100 a night for a single like me. My room including Tofu cost $51. It was clean, safe, the water was hot, the bed comfortable and the WiFi worked!

Last night I was relieved to learn that the predicted snowfall was delayed until 10pm. Stupid me. I didn’t consider the direction from which the storm was coming, happened to be the direction I am heading: West.

But before heading out, let me tell you that I slept all night! Tofu was so glad a good night’s sleep as well. We got in the van and headed out, feeling great, but almost immediately my back started complaining. After an hour I was at a 6 and climbing. Apparently My issues are not yet resolved. But I did realize that 30 days of driving 3-5 hours a day, might have something to do with my situation. And then I thought maybe, the pillow I brought along for tent camping might cushion the blows of the road. Yes, indeed I was good for 3 more hours. Too bad we weren’t quite there yet. But it wasn’t too long before we pulled into Kearney.

But I’ve gotten ahead of myself. We crossed from Iowa into Nebraska. It was snowing lightly. After Omaha and Lincoln, I pulled off I-80 at Seward to try to make contact with my cousin who lives in a dinky town south of Seward. I took this photo of a cornfield.

As we traveled I noticed several vehicles that had slid off the road and down the embankment. We even came across a semi trailer that had crashed to a car and both ended in the center divider. The police were at the scene. But the speed limit is 75, and most people were going faster than that. Sooo… We pulled off at a rest stop.

Snowfu could not think of a good reason to get out of the van. As a puppy she loved to jump in the snow. Twelve years later she is more concerned with getting cold.

Finally we got to Kearney. Twenty-one years ago Lynnie and I (and her Mother) were following the Oregon Trail as closely as possible. Traveling on back roads we came to Kearney. This wasn’t present when we came through. It was built in late 1999.

There was an almost fatal mistake when they built the Archway. There was no freeway exit access. You had to exit several miles from the arch either direction to get there. However in 2013 this problem was solved with exit 275. Another interesting thing about this log bridge is that it was moved into place as one piece on a night in 1999.

An 8 foot wooden carving is at the entrance.

There is a huge entrance with lots of Nebraska tourism information, a souvenir shop. If you want to go through the museum, you pay your money and take a ride up this two story escalator.

Back outside there’s another interesting sculpture along with an explanation.

Two miles west we got off the freeway again and found our motel. The road off the exit is 2nd Street. 21 years ago, Lynnie, Joan and I crossed the freeway overpass and drove through town on 2nd street. It is completely different from 1997. From the freeway there is a strip mall that goes all the way through town. The new Walmart is downtown.

Fortunately, after getting ourselves settled, my back pain quickly diminished. Then I went from worrying over myself and began to think about Paradise. Please join me in praying for Paradise and all those effected by the wildfires. Love.

4 thoughts on “Prayer for Paradise

  1. Prayers for Paradise and prayers for you and Tofu as you journey home. Prayers for rest and relief from the pain. Prayers for strength and grace for the day. Prayers for all who are trying to find their way on a hard, hard journey.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Prayers for Paradise — and rain to douse the fires. Your pain seems definitely related in some way to sitting in the car. Do you have your wallet in a back pocket?? Try switching it to a front one. I have known several folks who found this a miracle cure for their back pain as the “lump” was putting pressure on nerves. Hope you get out of the snow zone soon. Take care, sleep well.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Unfortunately the Camp Fire started Thursday morning near Paradise, a town of around 27,000 some 90 miles north of Sacramento. By Thursday evening, the town was a scene of widespread destruction, hundreds of structures reduced to rubble. Prayers are needed more than ever since all those people will need to find new homes and work.


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