The Unexpected Evacuation
The house was quiet early on a chilly morning later that year. Snow was falling and winter was creeping in through the hundred-year-old windows. Our seven children were still sleeping, and my husband had just returned to bed after putting a few logs on the fire. Suddenly, the doorbell rang, followed by hard knocking.
“Who could that be? The sun’s barely up?” Josh said, quickly grabbing yesterday’s clothes. We concluded that our goats must have gotten loose and were running through the neighborhood. I mentally prepared to jump out of bed and chase our crazy goats through town...
“Sorry to bother you,” he said, “but we are going to be digging in your driveway, and we need you to park your car down the street. We’re putting in the new sewer line.”
While Josh moved the car, several of the younger children came down wrapped up in blankets and huddled near the woodstove. The older children didn’t get out of bed. The baby called from her crib. Josh was taking the trash to the curb but came in for a coat. “It must be ten degrees outside!” he said.
I decided a hot breakfast would be nice. Just as I started boiling water for the oatmeal, Josh ran into the house shouting, “Grab the kids and run to the park! The guys just busted the gas line fifteen feet from the house. This could be really bad!”
The smell of gas was filling the air.
About five minutes later, I was standing in the snow at the park with seven shivering children. I was terrified as my husband went back to get the car—at least it was down the street a bit. I looked toward our home, wondering if the gas would ignite and send our corner of the neighborhood up in flames. Then, I turned to focus on the children.
I had grabbed a pile of clothes and blankets and mismatched shoes. The kids were crying as I tried to sort out the shoes and socks. I was still in my pajamas and had given my own coat and shoes to one of the kids. The babies needed diaper changes, and there were not enough shoes to go around. Two children had no pants on because they had been rushed out of bed. The big kids held the little ones as we waited for Josh to come with the car. One of the children had a bad scratch from climbing through the bushes, and we were all freezing and hungry. To top it all off, I had morning sickness and was beginning to feel dizzy and nauseous. We were unprepared.
A few minutes later, Josh arrived safely with the car, and we all piled in and drove out of town. We didn’t even have a car seat for the baby; we hadn’t had time. We were told that the street would be closed for several hours, and it was unsafe to return to our house until further notice.
Where would we go, with no car seat, no diapers, and not enough shoes—and I was still in my pajamas? Besides that, we had friends coming in from out of town. They would arrive in about an hour, and we didn’t have their phone number with us. I don’t think we even had our wallets.
We found refuge at Josh’s parent’s house. They were in Florida, but we were able to stay a few hours at their house. Thankfully they were prepared for us, and they didn’t even know it. They had a dresser full of children’s clothing. They had diapers and snacks. I borrowed clothes too, and the children played with the toys in grandpa’s toy box. We were able to use their computer to search for our friend’s phone numbers.
As we waited for clearance to return to our home, we prayed together, thanking God for His protection and wondering if our neighborhood had burst into flames. Josh found a Bible and read to us from Proverbs 14: “In the fear of the Lord there is strong confidence, and His children will have a place of refuge. The fear of the Lord is a Fountain of Life, to turn one away from the snares of death.”
We prayed for God to protect our home, and He did. When we returned later that day, all was well.