Our tiny Branch is part of a District so instead of Stake Conference we have District Conference. This also means that we have a District President and he has counselors, much like a Stake President and his counselors but, instead of getting our temple recommend interview from the District Pres or one of his couns (like the Stake Pres or his couns) we interview with the Mission President or one of his couns. Interesting, no?
Sorry, that was just a side tidbit that I've learned since moving into a District.
Last weekend we had District Conference in Traverse City which is 3 hours away from our house. We thought long and hard about how we could make it to all the District meetings.
Saturday: Training for both of us from 11-1 (childcare provided); Priesthood meeting 2:30-4:30; Adult session from 6-8pm (childcare provided).
Sunday: General session from 10-12pm.
Both our parents and grandparents were excellent examples of faithfulness. Fulfilling callings and making a point of going to all their meetings was never a question. We have NEVER debated on whether or not to go to our Stake meetings. We've always just gone. Granted our meetings were usually within 5-20 minutes of our house. Never before had it involved a 3 hour drive and thus an over night stay.
We are on a tight budget. Most people are, right? So we thought about just going for the Saturday session because there were 3 meetings as apposed to the 1 general session on Sunday. But, we both felt weird about not going to church on Sunday.
We also thought about contacting some District leadership to see if they knew of any families/couples willing and able to house a family of three for the weekend. But, being pregnant and having a sensitive nose/gag reflex/puke response and allergies (to almost all pets) we were nervous about that.
We prayed and pondered and decided to dip into our little savings look into motel accommodations. As soon as we started this process I felt good and peaceful even though we weren't finding anything at our desired price. I felt like we were doing the right thing and I have been promised that if I am where I should be, when I should be there blessings will come.
Ultimately we ended up naming our own price on priceline. And though we ended up saving 29% on the motel, later we found out we paid too much and could have stayed at a nicer motel with a WAY better breakfast...for a little less. Poot!
Since we were paying for a motel we decided this was not only going to be District Conference weekend but this was going to be a little vacation. We could see a little piece of Michigan, sight see, and have some fun as a family, out of the house!
Here was our next mistake:
We have been saving up for snow tires and found we could get a better deal outside of the Soo, so we extended our weekend, Nathan got Friday off (one more night in the motel...not the mistake...that was fun and worth it!) and added the snow tires errand to the weekend (that was the mistake). That took up a big chunk of our time on Friday and thus...no sight seeing.
We also hit a "pot hole" not a mistake but an unforeseen problem:
As we were leaving town Friday morning our Engine light came on. Poot! I freaked and immediately started think of the money we had wasted on a motel we weren't even going to make it to stay. But Nathan new more than me (as usual) and said it would be ok. He checked the owners manual and sure enough, its description made me feel ok about driving the 3 hours. But we knew we'd need someone to look at it while we were there.
When we arrived around 2 we went to our appointment for the snow tires. Blessing: the guy gave us a $25 out the door coupon on the tires. Saving $25 equals AWESOME! While they changed our tires we ate at Red Lobster AWESOME! Pricey, I know but the ONLY chain restaurant close to us is Applebees and we had to take advantage of yummy familiar cuisine while we could. And Red Lobster was RIGHT next door to the tire place.
After, that we went right to our motel and started calling around to mechanics, by this time it was 4:00 on a Friday. Nobody could/wanted to help us and nobody was going to be open on Saturday...except ONE. He agreed to run the diagnostic on Saturday morning.
Now, this guy kinda swindled us or this was just his policy. He charged us $72 to do the diagnostic and kept telling me it would take an hour to run. Since then we have done some research and the diagnostic can be run in a matter of minutes and can be done for FREE at most auto parts stores, like AutoZone, Checkers and Advanced Auto, etc. The thing that confused me is BLESSING: the guy gave us a loaner car to use while they had our car (free of charge). They couldn't run the diagnostic right away and once they did it would take "an hour" so he offered us a loaner car. So, in my mind, we rented a car for a couple of hours for $72.The loaner car was a blessing because we had training at 11.
Ever since the engine light came on we were praying. Together and in our heads and hearts. After we dropped the car off and got back to the motel we discussed the situation and decided that we wanted to pray and we were going to pray that there was no problem, but if there was a problem, that it would be a small problem, and that we would be able to drive back home and get it fixed at home. The guy had told us that they were closing at noon and he would only be able to run the diagnostic but not be able to fix it til Monday. Though we were really enjoying being in a "big" city, we didn't want to have to stay another day (budget!).
As we went to our training I sat in the meeting and found it hard to concentrate which frustrated me because THAT was the real reason for the trip! Then I started freaking out that the guy forgot to get my cell number. Before we went into our respective meetings we decided that we would go back to the mechanic together and leave Marley in the childcare (I spoke to someone from our branch and they agreed that would be best). I'd get the call and then go pull Nathan out of his meeting.
So, me the freak out lady walked out at 11:30, without getting a call. Since they were closing at noon I thought he should have called by then. I pulled Nathan out of his meeting and told him I hadn't gotten a call but I that I thought the guy forgot to get my number. Nathan said, "No he did get your number, I remember." Then I said, "What if he got a number wrong and can't reach us?!?!" He consented to just go and see if they were done.When we got there they were almost done and hadn't even tried to call yet...ooopsie! We waited about 20 minutes and got the diagnosis. We could drive it home and get it fixed there! Another blessing! We paid our fee, transferred our stuff back to our car and made it back to the training by 12:00. And I enjoyed the last hour MUCH more with our car back and knowing we'd be ok to get home safe.
The District Relief Society provided lunch after the training. Sadly, there were more people than they expected, I guess, because they ran out of food. Sad for them because I think they felt bad but, we got enough to hold us over and we were so grateful that they went to all that effort.
Nathan went to Priesthood. (what Marley and I did during priesthood is in Part 2 just to cut Part 1 down...not because it is super exciting or anything).
Then we picked him up and had just enough time to go eat at Chili's! I love that place! Sadly they discontinued my favorite, the Cajun Chicken Sandwich! Ah! So we did the 2 for $20 and shared our items. It was yummy.
Then we went to the adult session. It was so nice that they had childcare provided! The meeting was really good. We heard from the District President, the Detroit Temple President and Matron and the Mission President and his wife. Blessing! This meeting made the whole trip and all the sacrifice and struggle worth it. I felt the spirit. I felt uplifted even though I also felt pricked to make changes. It's not easy to be pricked and even harder to make changes, but it's good.
Sunday day we went to the general session and it was good. But we had Marley and it's hard for her and all the other kids to sit quietly for 2 hours. She did great though and so did the kids around us..but, they are still distracting...they can't help it.
After the meeting we waited a bit for people to clear out and then ate our yummy lunch in the gym and then changed our clothes and headed home.
We made it home safe and sound and blessed.
This whole situation was a learning experience. Now we know a lot more for next time.
Part 2 - Monday just a few more details.