Adventures in New Mexico

So it finally happened. I showed up to preach on Sunday only to find out I was at the wrong church!

We took a call in our office requesting that someone from Hope For Life, a Herald of Truth ministry, go speak at a church in New Mexico. The request was passed on to me, with a note that the caller was from Mora, New Mexico. I spoke with the man, arranged a time, and put it on the calendar. In all of our notes, we referred to Mora, New Mexico.

There’s not really a church in Mora. There’s one in nearby Cleveland which calls itself the Mora Valley Church of Christ. So I had an info sheet on that church, with the address of the church. Google Maps showed me precisely where the building was.

I flew to Albuquerque, then drove up to Taos to spend the night. On Saturday night, I got a funny feeling about the church. I searched for “church of Christ” around Mora and found several, but no addresses. I finally decided that I had the right place.

Sunday morning, when I went to my rental, I discovered a big dent on the back of the car. I spent a few minutes on the phone with Hertz, reported the incident to the hotel, then headed out. Fortunately, I had left myself plenty of time. I arrived about 9, confirmed that class was at 9:30 (as I had thought), then headed to Mora to find a bathroom. Noticed that the speed limit was 25; saw a highway patrolman in the convenience store; upon leaving the store, noticed he had stopped someone who was going faster than 25. That was a good reminder to watch my speed.

Headed back to the church. About 9:20, the preacher showed up. When I got out of the car, he noticed my shirt and tie (note: I despise ties), and said, “Are you a preacher?” That didn’t seem to be a good omen. I said yes, and told him that I had been invited for that day. I followed him in, then asked, “Let me clarify… does brother ____ go here?”

“He used to,” was the reply. “Now he goes somewhere else. Are you familiar with the area?” Uh, no. The preacher gave me directions when involved driving through Mora, going a few miles past, then taking a left “at the sharp turn.” Fortunately another man had arrived who gave me the highway number and mile marker where to turn.

I headed out, trying to hurry while not exceeding the speed limit. My friend in Mora had stopped another car, which reminded me that “late for church” probably wasn’t a good excuse for speeding.

After I made the turn, I found myself in open country. Farmland. Scattered houses. I drove 13 miles, thinking all the time: “I may have just made a long trip for nothing.” Fortunately, I found the church (in Ojo Feliz, New Mexico; the brother who called lives in Mora but worships in Ojo Feliz), the members were waiting for me, and we had an excellent time together.

They even had a lunch in my honor! I have a personal rule about avoiding beans when flying, but they had wonderful brisket and other fixings. I had no cell service, so I couldn’t call up Google Maps. I headed back to the main road, then guessed which way to go to head back to Albuquerque.

I wanted to get to the airport early because of the dent in my rental car. I had seen several gas stations near the airport, but couldn’t remember exactly where. I got off near the airport, with no stations in sight. Google identified one about 20 minutes away, which didn’t seem practical. I rarely use Siri, but I asked for her help. She found me something a mere 5 minutes away, much to my relief. However, when I got there, it was a vacant lot. I’m sure it used to be a gas station.

I finally found an old convenience store, parked by the pumps, and ran inside to use the bathroom. (Note a recurring theme? I’m a middle-aged man; what do you expect?) I told the clerk my mission, and he told me where to find the bathroom. I guess the distress was obvious on my face, because it wasn’t a public bathroom; it was only for employees. I didn’t care.

Did my business, filled up the tank, and headed to the airport. The guy at Hertz said, “Everything all right with the car?” I said, “Sure, except for that dent on the back.” He said, “Good thing it already has an inspection sticker on it. That was already there.” That’s right… I’d spent the day worrying about nothing!

Smooth sailing from there, and I made it home Sunday evening. But it was an eventful trip. How was your weekend?

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