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It is hard to believe that it is already September! There are many things coming up on the horizon and I can’t wait to share them with you. As soon as there are concrete plans, I will let you all know!! Thanks to all of you who came to our retreat as it was a really spiritual time of visioning and dreaming together!

Sunday, I mentioned about the time I got stuck in the middle of nowhere in Mississippi. I thought I would share with you the post that I wrote right after it happened in August of 2010. I hope you all enjoy (it is a bit long!) The title is, “Sally! May She Rest In Peace!”

Sally! May She Rest In Peace!

There are some stories in life you just can’t make up, and for some reason, my life is full of such stories. I often find myself in the most ridiculous situations. OneFridayafternoon in August of 2010, however, was the craziest predicament that I have ever been in, and this is no exaggeration (although we all know I do like to exaggerate; but still…)

That Friday around 3:30 PM, I left my house in Nanih Waiya, Mississippi, to head to Stacey Parvin and Bob Fuller’s country house for a get together before the local high school’s football game. Well, as I was leaving my house, I got my “handy-dandy, I’ll never fail you” GPS machine out, Sally (may she rest in Peace), is her name. I plugged in the address. To my surprise, Sally told me that Bob and Stacey only lived about 18 miles from my house! SWEEEEEEEEET! I would be at their house sooner than I thought.

So, I leave my driveway and embark on my 18 mile drive that would take me about 10 hours. As I was driving, I noticed, the GPS was taking me to Lake Forest Drive. Lake Forest Ranch, a Christian camp, is located on Lake Forest Drive, and I actually worked at this camp back in 2001 as workstaff.

I thought to myself,“Wow, all the roads this way are dirt, but hey, Sally (may she rest in Peace), has never failed me plus I get to go by camp.”

I guess here would be a good place to confess that the last time I was on Lake Forest Drive, I had a wreck in my mom’s car. So obviously, I call my mom and tell her that I am on Lake Forest Drive, but that I WOULD NOT have a wreck and that I would be completely careful. She didn’t say much other than, “Justin, be careful. You know how you get lost easily. Please just don’t have a wreck. Go Slow!”

“Of course Mom. Plus I have Sally (may she rest in Peace), and she has never failed me. Love you, talk to you latertonightortomorrow.”

So, I drive and the memories of Lake Forest flood back to me. It was actually a very good and peaceful drive. I pass the camp, and go past the lake, and I feel this energy of times gone past. The good energy that strengthens you and reminds you of those times when God worked and moved in your life. So, needless to say, I am doing GOOD! I am excited, and I am headed to Stacey and Bob’s!

I look down at Sally (may she rest in Peace), and I notice that I am only about 5 miles from their house. YES! I am close, I just have to stay on course, and follow these directions. So I drive on, going about 10-15 miles per hour on these back roads made of dirt and gravel. The wildlife was amazing. I saw about 20 deer, 30 turkeys, lots of squirrels.

Well, it was about 10 minutes after I passed over the lake, and I looked down at the GPS and it said my ETA was another 10 minutes but that I was only 2.5 miles away. Well, it was at this time, when my oil light came on… “CRAP! CRAP! CRAP!” except I don’t think I said Crap. But the choices of my words don’t matter right now. I was faced with the predicament of, do I stop, or do I press onwards for the next 2 miles to Bob and Stacey’s? I mean, my light had just come on, and usually you can go about a mile or two before you have to stop and put oil in it. Plus, I had just gotten an oil change 3 weeks prior. So, I pressed on, turned right, and about a quarter of a mile to Bob and Stacey’s, I realized that Sally (may she rest in Peace) had taken me down a grassy area, that was not a road. So I freak out, and I turn around, and BAM. My car died.

I try to crank the car. Nothing. “CRAPPPPPPPP. CRAPPPPPPPPP. CRAPPPPPPP.”

It was at that point that I had a major FREAK OUT! Why? Because my car was dead in the middle of nowhere, and Sally (may she rest in Peace) royally screwed me.

I looked down and I had a text from Melanie, my sister. (Oh yeah, even though this is the middle of nowhere, I have full cell reception, because this middle of nowhere is the highest point of Winston County.) Her text simply said, “Hey. I was thinking about you. Are you OK?” and I started crying. I mean, uncontrollably crying. I pulled it together, and called her, and said,"So, I am stuck in the Refuge, or somewhere close to the Refuge. Not sure where I am, but DO NOT TELL Mom or Dad.” She agreed, asked me questions of why I was where I was, and then told me to call Bob and Stacey. So I called Bob and Stacey, and I told Stacey that I am stuck. Then she lost reception and we had to text back and forth. I left my car, and I walked up to the next fork in the road and I noticed a locked gate on my left. It is at this time that I really started freaking out. So, I called 911. They were really helpful and got a search crew going. The search crew consisted of the game warden, Bob, and Bob’s mom.

They told me to cross over the gate and go to the nearest crossroads. They asked me what road signs I might see and I didn’t see any. The only sign that I saw said this: “Wasilla Hunting Club Organization.”

“CRAPPPPPPPP. WASILLA! SARAH PALIN IS GOING TO JUMP OUT AT ME ANY FREAKING SECOND…” Okay, I mean, it was Mississippi, not Alaska, but I was delirious. And plus, anything that reminded me of Sarah Palin at that time was not helpful. I kept walking and I came to a cemetery; an old cemetery in the middle of nowhere in the woods. Surely people knew this cemetery, and it could have been a great point of reference for those looking for me! So I tell the 911 dispatcher about the cemetery and she calls the game warden and he says he has no idea where I am. There were about 4 cemeteries in this 50,000 acres of woods and most of them were on private land and locked off. So by this time, I figure out that Sally (may she rest in Peace) got me off course and onto private hunting and logging land. “CRAPPPPPP.”

I texted Stacey and tell her that I am at this cemetery. She was happy because she said that Bob knew exactly where that particular cemetery is located. I told the 911 dispatcher that my phone was getting low on battery and that I needed to get off the phone, and that Bob knows where I am. She said, “Baby, if he is not therein 10 minutes, call me back.” By the way, the dispatcher was this amazing angel from God who helped me stay calm with her soothing, soulful voice. But I digress; I sat there about ten minutes, and nothing. So, before I call the dispatcher back, I finally decided to call my mom.

When she picked up she said, “Hey baby, did you make it to Stacey and Bob’s?”

… Silence… "SOBBBBBB… NOOOOOOOOOO, MY CAR BROKE DOWN IN THE MIDDLE OF THE FREAKING REFUGE, OR SOMETHING LIKE THAT….”

“WHAT?? ARE YOU OKAY? ARE YOU HURT? DO YOU KNOW WHERE YOU ARE?”

At that point, I quit crying enough to actually talk to her.

“I don’t know where I am. I am by a random cemetery by the Wasilla Hunting Club and I swear if Sarah Palin jumps out at me, someone will get hurt.”

“What are you talking about, Justin?”

“Oh sorry, just rattling. But no, I don’t know where I am; the people don’t really know where I am. I am lost, lost, lost.”

So she asked if I had called 911, and all those questions. I said

"yes, I need to call them back, just wanted to let you know I was lost in the woods. Bye. Love you, hope I don’t have to sleep out heretonight.”

I then call 911 and the dispatcher was surprised that Bob was not there yet. So, I said, “Okay, well, then, I will call you when something happens. Or I will check in every ten minutes or so.”

I checked in quite a bit over the next few hours as I waited on someone to find me. I had taken Sally (may she rest in Peace), out of my car, so she could help me, but Sally (may she rest in Peace), died… And I threw her on the ground. I committed GPSicide.

I looked down, as I’d been texting Mom, Melanie, and Stacey, and I see Stacey had sent a text saying, “Look at the gravestones. Do you see any Fullers?”

I looked out and in fact, yes, there were Fullers waiting for the day of resurrection in this cemetery. I texted her back, and she said. “Dude, you ended up on Section 16 land outside of the Refuge. That is Bob’s family’s private cemetery. My mother-in-law will be there soon.” I replied, “Stacey! Don’t talk about your mother-in-law like that. She isn’t THAT old!” Stacey replied, “No dear. She will be coming to get you in her car. She knows exactly where you are.”

So, at that point, I didn't believe her. Bob was supposed to have found me hours earlier. But, I called the 911 dispatcher and told her that Stacey says I am on 16th section land by the family’s private cemetery. The dispatcher says that the game warden has found many locked gates, and that someone would be there soon, and if Bob’s mom, Ms. Fuller, got there before they did, to call back.Ten minutes later, I saw dust flying, heard an engine, and Bob’s mom was there. My hero. It took about 4 minutes to get back to Stacey and Bob’s house.

To make an already long story, a little longer, but not too long, I left my car out there for the night and stayed at Bob and Stacey’s.On Saturdaymorning, we got up, went, had to find my car. Then call a tow truck, get it out to my car, and get it back to Louisville. It was a success. It only took another 4 hours.

So, I once was lost, but then I was found, but My Car died, Sally died (she is now buried in the Fuller family cemetery… Okay, not really, but I should have…), and I cried, cried, cried.

But thank Goodness that I did not have to spend the night by the cemetery with Sarah Palin.

Y’all be blessed!

With Justice and Joy,

Rev. Justin

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