02.23.08 Valdois Letter

Dear saints in Hutchinson,

Thank you much for your faithful care for us through your prayers and financial fellowship. What a blessing to have the church standing behind us. One of the issued I (Darrel) have faced since we got back after Christmas is driving the bus in mud, so I decided to give a little insight into this part of my life.

As you know, I am a full time bus driver this year. Four of us Ann, Megan, John and I, are certified to drive the two buses, so we divide up the routes. Two drive in the morning and the other two in the afternoon. I have one of the morning routes. I drive a large circle to the east and north that is from 25-30 miles long, and my load averages around 30 students. My speedometer doesn’t work right, but I think our top speed is between 30-35 mph. I leave at 6:10 and get back about 7:50 so our average speed is closer to 20 mph. During the winter months half of the route is in the dark. Now that March is almost here I am leaving the mission with the first light of dawn. It’s fun to get acquainted with the elementary students. They don’t really get to perking until the last thirty minutes of the route?.

The roads are pretty rough, and when I started driving, I didn’t enjoy the morning ride much for worrying about tearing up the bus. It really rattles and bangs. It still bothers me, but not as much as at first. Pray that I might just commit the bus to the Lord’s care. John does a wonderful job of doing that. Recently the Indian road department has been maintaining the roads more regularly. Last fall we were lucky if they graded the roads every six weeks. I was taking Zach, one of our juniors in high school, home one evening, and it seemed to me that his road hadn’t been graded since school started. I asked him how often they graded his road, and he said he didn’t know. I had to laugh. I watch that pretty closely. I guess if you grow up with rough roads, you don’t even notice them. Certainly the kids are oblivious to the bus banging down the road. They never mention it?. The only time they groan is when I drive through a wash a little too fast where the rain water has washed out the road a bit. The back end of the bus bucks a little.

Since Christmas we have been sharing the bad weather that nearly all the nation has been having. The area has been having a drought out here, and a few one to two inch snows were all they expected during the winter. Things have changed! We had a six inch snow in January and the temperature stayed below freezing for nearly a week (The Mission is at an elevation of 5,500 feet—a mile high +). One senior in high school said that this was the most snow he had ever seen in his life! The snow began just as I was leaving the Mission on my bus route. It got deeper as the route progressed. I was nearing my second to the last stop about three miles from the Mission. I thought I was home free—not so. The stop was located on a level spot in the middle of a long hill. I hit the brake a little too hard and slid off in the ditch. I managed to drive in the ditch (down hill) for almost a quarter of a mile until I ran over a rock that caught my front axle?. I had to call the Mission to bring another bus to pick up my students and finish the route. Since that storm some of the roads on the route have been almost continuously muddy. Just when they were getting dry we would get another storm. There is a hill that is about a half a mile long that has been the worst. The mud on that stretch has been as deep as six inches (my estimate from the driver’s seat). Fortunately the soil here is different from the soil in Kansas. The soil beneath the mud is still solid enough that you can get some traction and the mud is not sticky—just slick.

We had a blessing about a week and a half ago. One of our tenth graders initiated a conversation with Kathy Staley. He wanted to be saved. Pray for Uriah. Satan has many pitfalls for new teen-age converts here on the reservation.

In the Lord’s Love,
Darrel and Barbara

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