April 2, 2015
And thus began week eleven.
This week started really, really hard. We were wiped out emotionally, physically, and mentally, and trying to keep up a pretty crazy schedule. At this point we had been without the bus for eleven days. We had only brought three extra sets of clothes each, and really hardly anything else besides those two sets of clothes, one set of concert clothes, and our instruments. This was partly due to lack of time to pack originally, and lack of much space, and also because we thought we were only going to be gone from the bus for a week max. By the time those 2weeks were up we were so tired of those three sets of clothes!
Sunday morning we left our friends home in San Antonio at 1am and traveled the eight hours to our concert location Sunday morning. Amongst other problems (like lack of sleep) one of our younger drivers didn’t realize how far it is between certain desolate parts of western Texas, and we ended up running out of gas during the 45min stretch of highway between two towns. It took an hour to finally convince someone to drive out from the nearest town to help us out. We ended up being assisted by a young police officer who was very kind. Amongst other things, he was a Christian and also the youngest police officer in the state of Texas which was pretty interesting.  He was definitely the angel God sent us that morning!
We had amazing ministry opportunities both Sunday morning and also at our evening concert Sunday evening. (which was a three hour drive from where we had been Sunday am) Both concerts were extremely exhausting because we were so late and so tired. (for the morning one we were literally setting up while the whole congregation was sitting there watching us-not fun) 
But they were definitely worth all the effort it took to get there and we could clearly see God’s hand all over that day, directing and providing. 
We ended up driving partway back to San Antonio that night. Around 1am Monday morning we stopped at a hotel and got one room. The guys decided to all just sleep in the van and us girls stayed in the room. Dad managed to convince the manager to let all of us eat and shower at the hotel in the morning. =)

Trying to do meals in the van vs the bus was definitely a challenge. =) Monday lunch we had subs that the church had given us the night before. Since it was a little difficult to assemble the subs in the van, we spread out on some big rocks behind a gas station and everyone prepared their own sandwiches before once again loading up and heading on to San Antonio.

After being cooped up in the van, there was a need for some stretching. =)

And speaking of the van…let me just let you in on a few of our family secrets.

First of all, the last time we were together as a whole family in our van for over an hour was back in 2012, when we all went to a cousins wedding. And that doesn’t really count because we went straight there and straight back afterwards, so it really wasn’t very substantial travel. Before that, we hadn’t done a long family trip in a van since before we had our first bus, which was seven years ago. So this whole van business was culture shock for us in a big way!

The first signs of diversity at the beginning of this “van + trailer saga” came once we had been on the road for a grand total of thirty minutes.

Our friends had told us that their van’s cd player didn’t work properly. They said that once you put a cd in, it would play, but it wouldn’t come out unless you got some kind of special tool to force it out.
So we knew that whatever cd we put in would be what we would be listening to for the next week. (well, at the time we thought it would be a week-little did we know it would be two weeks!)

So we had a family council right there in the van to decide what cd we would choose to listen to for the next week.
The first suggestion someone gave was a celtic instrumental cd. This was immediately shot down by the non-celtic loving Bontragers in our midst.
Option number two was a southern gospel cd, but the several Bontragers who don’t like southern gospel vehemently lifted up their voices and opposed the poor Booth Brothers with gusto.
Next was a family favorite (a mixture gospel/contemporary/country) that we’ve been playing in the bus quite a bit lately. Only problem is that we had been playing it enough that half of the family was sick of it. So that was strongly voted down.
And on it went….
A final majority was reached with the voting for the Piano Guys latest album, “Wonders”. There were two Bontragers who were not in favor of this choice. (names left undisclosed to protect those with, ahem, less refined taste than everyone else. Hehe)
But majority ruled, so “Wonders” it was.
We listened to that cd for the next 2weeks, at the end of which time the true PianoGuys fans loved it more than ever, the two who didn’t want it in the beginning hated it more than ever, and the rest were pretty tired of it.

And that’s just a peak into our family music diversity. We all love each other dearly in spite of different taste and style preferences. =)

Back at our friends home in San Antonio…we enjoyed helping prepare a yummy evening meal!

Liz and Rebecca were so thrilled with these Life of Faith dolls that our friends gave them. They spent hours playing with them since they hadn’t brought along (in the van) hardly anything else to do.

By Monday afternoon our bus transmission had still not arrived. Our friends offered their ranch for us to stay at for as long as we had to wait. We cancelled the first three concerts in Mexico (since we couldn’t go to Mexico without the bus) and headed out to the ranch. 
It was beautiful and for our family, our dream type of spot to be stuck at for three days. We are country people all the way, and nothing appeals to us quite like woods and lakes. With everything that had happened the past eleven days, this ranch was just the perfect oasis for us to relax and just “be”, all by ourselves. 
It just so happened that some other friends of ours were vacationing on the other side of the ranch. One the first night they invited us “over the hill” for supper. Along with good food and conversation, the guys enjoyed a rousing game of football. 

We took a hike around the lake one day.

The view from the top of one of the hills that we hiked.

Enjoying a yummy dinner together as a family, out on the deck. The weather was beautiful.
This swan lived on the lake next to the houses we were staying in. 
These horses also lived on the ranch.

The second day we were there, the property manager went to one of their prop trailers and pulled out a bunch of canoes for us to use. This was definitely the highlight of our stay on the ranch. We spent SO much time out on the lake in these! (a fun fact is that some of these canoes were used for the filming in the movie Alone Yet Not Alone)

Time to fish!
Rebecca was SO determined to catch a fish. I’m not sure how many hours she spent out on the lake trying, but it was most of a day. She loved throwing her line and reeling it back in. I finally told her  that there would be more chance of her actually catching something if she would leave her line in the water for more than three consecutive seconds. =) Whereupon she promptly responded, “No, this is  the right way, because Carson told me that if I leave my line in the water very long than the fish will know its a lure and they won’t go after it.” =) 
Only, her version of “not leaving in very long” meant reeling back immediately after she threw in her line.  It took coming to a happy medium before she was able to catch a fish. =)
I still can’t believe that our babies are old enough to be out on the water by themselves!

Smiling fisherwomen. =)

Some of us caught things other than fish. =)
Time to dig in! 
Preparing to fillet! 
We are so thankful for the opportunity God gave us to have this little time of rest. Even though originally it seemed like such a trial to have everything happen that happened with our bus, God ended up blessing us with this perfect little pocket of time in which we could truly just rest and BE. It was such a gift and we know He planned it all out, even though at first we couldn’t see the bigger picture.
“To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
He hath made everything beautiful in His time: also He hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.”
Ecclesiastes 3:1+11

{posted by Chelsy}



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Leave a Reply
  1. Wow…while not having the bus for 2 weeks was stressful, the Lord blessed you with 3 days off and together as a family to sort of "de-stress":) {or "un-stress" if that's any better…} That ranch is beautiful! And,Rebecca's fishing pictures are so cute:)

    And I totally know what traveling with a big family in a what seems like small van(15 passenger though it may be:)is like!!!


  2. Wow, that looks like the best place to stay e.v.e.r!
    What a blessing to be able to have some relaxation at such a beautiful place!
    Enjoying all the posts! (Go Chelsy!)

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