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The Eternal SWAT (Widescreen edition)

[First, a few words of explanation to those who aren't familiar. I interned with a youth ministry called Teen Mania. They produce a youth conference called 'Acquire the Fire', usually on a Friday and Saturday night. I interned with the ministry for a year, and worked in the Epicenter department, which was the promotions department basically; we called youth pastors trying to get them to come to the event. On with the story!]

This is my story. I don't have a song, but I'll work on it and let you know.

Since Teen Mania (TM) is Big on Acronyms (BOA) and also big on changing them every 5 minutes, I will explain briefly what at least was known as SWAT team; maybe they still call it SWAT, who knows. SWAT team was the group of Epicenteries (EPIs) who went to ATFs to promote mission trips. Basically walk around (WA), talk with kids (TWK), get them interested in missions (GTIIM), interview 'em (IE), etc. (ETC)

During the Spring of '98, I was on the SWAT team for the San Bernardino ATF. San B is a looong bus drive away from Texas. We got out there all right though. Had a great weekend at the ATF, and since it was so far to drive back, we actually had an extra day off, so we got to stay Saturday night (Typically SWAT team left Sat night right after ATF was done). We got to stay at this nice condo up in the mountains that belonged to either the host church or someone that went there, or something. Being in a school bus going up windy mountain roads took a while, but it was worth it when we got there and were able to sleep (not on a bus).

The next day we had at least half the day before we had to get back on the road, so the plan was to stop by the beach (I believe). We were driving down the windy mountain roads, and when we got to the bottom we were at this stoplight. It turned green and a car passed, they were honking and waving, pointing at our tire and yelling, “you're tire's on fire!”

Of course not hearing them quite right, we corrected them, “No, we're with 'ACQUIRE the fire'!” (Heh heh. no, that was just a joke I thought of; we heard them all right). So the bus driver (remaining nameless) pulled over immediately, into a gas station. Almost immediately, of course, we have a gas station attendant yelling at us to get away from the pumps. Don't know what their problem was, must have had a bad day or something. ;-]

Sure enough, our tire was on fire, or more specifically the brakes. The driver had used the brakes most of the way down the mountain (which is miles), instead of using lower gears to slow the bus down. This is bad for brakes, they get really hot. And catch on fire. We got the fire out, it wasn't like some huge roaring blase or anything.. but the brakes were shot basically. So we headed to Karla Kriz's house, and the bus was taken into the shop.

Later that afternoon we found out we weren't going to get the bus back that day, which meant staying in Cali another day. Woo hoo! This time we all stayed with the Kriz's, which was fun in itself, having about 20 of us in their house. They were really nice to let us stay there; and it was really fun (except that I got really sick; great, in sunny California and I'm sick). We went to the beach (which reminds me of another funny story.. later) that afternoon and ended up cooking hot dogs over a fire and having praise & worship around the fire around sunset. It was really awesome. So we all head to bed, figuring tomorrow we'll be heading home, since that's what the bus-driver-fixer-uppers had led us to believe.

Wake up, next day. Bus-driver-fixer-upper still doesn't have the bus fixed and it seems like it just keeps getting pushed back.. not having the right part or something. We watched some movies, went to the park, etc. Still no bus. Finally it got to that point again where it didn't look like we were gonna get it that day, so we got to spend another night in Cali! Woo hoo! While it was fun to be in Cali, you must take into account the fact that everyone on SWAT team has packed enough for 2 days basically, Friday and Saturday at ATF. Not 4 or 5 as it seemed to be turning into now. The Kriz's let us do some laundry there, but still not all 20 of us were gonna get it done.

The next day, mid-afternoon we finally got our bus back. BUT, by this point, there wasn't going to be time for us to get back to Texas and get another SWAT team off to the next ATF, in Denver. Yup, that means we got to go straight from California to Denver, we were gonna be the SWAT team for that ATF too.

So we went to Denver, and after that finally got to go 'home' to Texas. We dubbed it “The Eternal SWAT”. Two weeks on the road, in a bus. We got to know each other pretty well over that two weeks, and all in all it was a blast! :-]

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