Seven Years of Blessing
The tougher the route the bigger the blessing.
Long before I had ever heard of Henry Blackaby and “Experiencing God,” I knew to join in where God was at work. In a previous post I mentioned a near death experience that led me to repentance and to God redirecting my heart. God had brought me to a group of Christians that were real. Not perfect but real. Their walk matched their talk. Their fire was contagious! For the first time in my life I was growing as a Christian and to the point that I was willing to say yes to whatever the Holy Spirit led me to do.
I thought about where I might be able to serve in the church and the Bus Ministry came to mind. The Bus Ministry was a ministry that took buses into different neighborhoods and apartment complexes and picked up kids on Sunday and brought them to church. I was a mechanic. I knew how to fix things and thought I could help keep the buses going. Yea, that’s it. So I shared my idea with Brother Ed who was in charge of the Bus Ministry. He said they already had someone to work on the buses. They needed workers to go out and work with the kids. Ugh, kids. Believe it or not I was once one of those unruly bus kids. During his college years my soon to be brother-in-law Ron drove a church bus. The various buses would have contest to see which bus could bring in the most kids. Our bus set the record at 61. I don’t know if that was even safe but we did it. It impressed me so that it’s written in my Bible from that age. “Ron Thompson, 61 on bus” right next to, “Saved May 18, 1969.” For me it was an important milestone. So the idea of working with unruly misbehaving bus kids was not what I had in mind. But the Spirit led me to say yes and so I committed. Within a couple of weeks the man who was taking care of the buses became sick and was no longer able to work on them. I was called on to fill his shoes. There were seven buses and four vans. The vans were for nursing homes and the State Schools.
Besides keeping the buses and vans going I would fill in for various drivers should they not be able to take their route. I knew Rhonda from the career class. I remember Jerry (a friend who had recently come to know the LORD) encouraging me to ask her to ride with us to take the old folks home. Such an exciting day!
The toughest route was the one that went to the Austin State School and picked up mentally handicapped adults. I didn’t quite know how to handle the students. But then God brought Donnie into my life. Donnie was a young man that I met on the job who was living at the State Hospital. That’s another story in itself. Let’s just say that after ministering at the State Hospital, the State School was a cinch. I started as a fill in driver but that led to me helping in the classroom. I believe it was within the first year or two that I found myself in charge of the class.
The seven years that Rhonda and I worked with the Special Ed Department was one of the most rewarding times in my life. My parents even helped at times which was really cool. We received unconditional love from thirty plus mentally handicapped adults. We were there to bless them, but they blessed us. In 1981 Rhonda and I were married and in December of 1982 Josh was born. The students loved Josh and love to touch him which sometimes made us just a little uneasy. But they loved him. When we moved from Austin to Hutto we turned the class over to Joan Whitt, a dear sweet lady originally from Oklahoma. Her husband was retired military. For him and for her both, I have the highest regard.