When I wrote the post entitled Ups and Downs, Part 1 I thought our car situation would be the biggest challenge of this trip. I planned to focus on the ways in which God has blessed us and provided for us here in Goodland, Kansas. I'll still share those things, but I also have some sad news to share. If you don't have time to read this entire post, you can skip the next four paragraphs and go right to the fifth.
As I mentioned previously, our car broke down last Thursday afternoon shortly after crossing the border into Kansas. We called State Farm for roadside assistance, and while we were waiting for the tow truck to arrive, a pickup truck pulled off to see if we needed help. As it turns out, he worked for a local repair shop. Of course he wanted us to have our car towed to his shop. But the tow truck driver also had a shop (which the pickup truck driver tried to discredit), and the insurance agent found a third shop. Needless to say, the situation was getting very confusing and we had no idea who to trust in this small town where everything and everyone was unknown to us.
I made the best decision I could based on the circumstances, rode back into town, and started calling hotels to find a place to sleep. Super 8 was full. Comfort Inn was booked. Sunset Inn: no vacancy. Same with Holiday Inn Express and America's Best. Finally, I called the last and cheapest hotel in town, which had horrible online reviews: the Goodland Motel 6. I breathed a sigh of relief when they said they could give me a room. Prepared for the worst, we got a ride to the motel. When we opened the door we found the room to be small and basic, but recently renovated and surprisingly clean. Apparently the motel had been shut down and just recently reopened under new management, which is the reason they had vacancies when every other hotel was full. I've never been so thankful to have a safe place to lay my head!
Before going to sleep, we contacted everyone we could on social media in an attempt to connect with someone in northwest Kansas who could help us, but to no avail. In a last-ditch effort, I looked up a few local churches and contacted them by email or voicemail, praying that someone would be moved to help us. I know that churches get lots of requests for help, sometimes from scammers, so we were praying that someone would believe us enough to respond. At this point I was just asking for transportation to help us buy food and to attend church on Sunday, and a possible recommendation of a trustworthy mechanic.
The next morning we got a call from Pastor Tim Bonebright at Goodland Bible Church. He had received our email, checked out our blog and determined that we had some credibility. After hearing about our situation, he offered to drive us to the store to pick up some groceries, and to take me to see his mechanic for a second opinion on our car. It turned out that Pastor Tim, his family, and his church were a much greater blessing to us than we ever could have hoped. Not only did they help with our groceries, but they welcomed us into their house and shared several meals with us over the course of the next few days. The church even helped to cover most of our hotel costs. It might have seemed like a small thing, but to us it was huge! And as for the mechanic, it so happens that Pastor Tim has a good relationship with Butch, the tow truck driver who pulled our car off the highway. He is currently working on replacing the engine on our Vibe, so please pray that he will be able to work quickly and proficiently!
When God brought Pastor Tim and his wife Sarah into our lives (or us into theirs, depending how you look at it), none of us had any idea that they would share with us one of the most difficult nights we have faced as a family. On Saturday, September 24, Tara was not feeling well. By early evening, it was clear that she needed to get to a hospital, and though Tara didn't say anything to me in front of the kids, I knew that something was not right with the baby. I called Pastor Tim, and he got us to the local medical center as quickly as he could. The next couple hours were very difficult, especially for Tara. She was essentially left alone to deliver our son 16 weeks into the pregnancy. The nurses did not know how to help her and I was bouncing back and forth between her and the kids.
Anyone who has had a miscarriage knows how difficult it is, and as her husband I won't try to explain what Tara was (and is) going through. As a father, the most difficult moment was telling Ian and Ella that they would never meet their baby brother on this side of heaven. As we looked upon the tiny body of my son—with his ten little fingers, ten perfect toes, and his little nose and mouth—we couldn't help shedding tears together. Yet, we know that the Lord is good, and that because of the hope of resurrection and eternal life we may someday meet Ezra Ray Hammitt (or "Bean", as we affectionately called him) face-to-face.
When we got stranded here in Kansas we had no idea that we would face the loss of our unborn child in addition to a major car repair bill. But God, in His grace, did not allow us to be alone. By bringing the Bonebright family and the members of Goodland Bible Church into our lives, he provided physical and financial assistance, fellowship, and encouragement to help us through this difficult time. At the same time, we have felt a great outpouring of love and prayer from our friends and family back home and around the country, who have been supporting us by phone, social media and prayer.
As I conclude this post, I do want to thank Pastor Tim, his wife Sarah, and the members of Goodland Bible Church, who went above-and-beyond to help us while we were here. Pastor Brian from Harvest Free Church also checked in periodically to make sure we were taken care of and helped us explore the option of purchasing another vehicle. I know that neither of them helped us in order to receive recognition, and I am not thanking them publicly to puff them up. I'm convinced that they do not desire recognition for themselves, but they would desire Jesus Christ to be glorified and lifted up through them. So, even though we want to thank these men and women, we ultimately give thanks to our God and Father, who brought us together in Goodland. We don't always understand His plans and purposes, but He used the circumstances of his past week to increase our faith and trust in Him, and to remind us that He loves and cares for us at all times and in all places—even Goodland, Kansas!