Last Saturday evening we were sitting at Wendy's, visitin' with our good friends, the Hainings when someone noticed the clouds. Dark, impressive as they shaded the sunset...and gathering fast.
Earlier that day we had performed at Bethany Lutheran Church in Grantsburg, WI; it was supposed to be an outdoor concert, but because of heavy rain in the morning, it was moved inside...which we were actually grateful for, as outdoor concerts are tough to do with lots of instruments to protect, blood-thirsty bugs, and unpredictable summer weather. So, suffice to say, we enjoyed the air-conditioning as the humidity rose throughout the afternoon! Pastor Jay, Ruby, Dorothy, and all the ladies of the church were so gracious to us.
We were utterly surprised when our long-distance friends, the Hainings showed up. They recently moved to Missouri and were in the area; our families wanted to get together sometime while they were here in Minnesota, but it wasn't going to work anytime soon. So, when they appeared at the church right before the concert, we were shocked! :)
After the concert, the Hainings and our family headed to Cambridge, MN to eat supper and catch up on a couple months. We laughed and talked and shared over the course of four hours (when you put two families who like to talk together, well, the conversation never stops!). Meanwhile outside, the bright sunshine was fading away quickly, not only because of the evening hours, but because of gathering cumulonimbus clouds. Lightning flashes eventually began to interrupt our talks, and the subject of our girls' conversation turned to storms briefly.
Then, suddenly, I heard something which chilled me: the wail of a siren...at least I thought I did. "Is that the sirens?" I asked suddenly, shushing our talk, looking at the rain starting to pour and the pitch black clouds. "It couldn't have been," I answered my own question quickly, knowing when I get scared I have the tendency to "hear" things. Then, I heard them again and I knew I wasn't hearing things! I jumped up out my chair quick, and tapped Dad on the shoulder; "Dad, I hear the sirens," I said with a tremble in my voice. ("Sirens", meaning a siren which signifies a tornado has been spotted.)
Everyone sprang out of their chairs and went to the windows. (What is the first thing you're supposed to do in a bad storm? Stay away from windows!) An employee nearby started filling us in on the latest news: a tornado warning had been issued until 9:00 p.m. Well, it was just 9:00, so it would be over soon...so we thought. Mr. Haining checked his phone for more information, and sure enough, we could see we were in the thick of a nasty looking storm. The lightning was flashing continually now, the wind was whipping the trees, and the thunder claps shook the windows...and it was pouring!
Then the warning was extended to 9:45 p.m. It looked like we could be at Wendy's for a long while.
We eventually sat down again. We were the only customers, so we just made ourselves comfy. Mrs. Haining, James, and Gracie started singing a song called "Master of the Wind", as our family hadn't heard it before, when suddenly an employee came up to us.
"Folks, it's getting bad," she said in the utmost sincerity.
"Just the way she said it gave me a pounding in my heart," Jayme told me later.
During the song, I had looked over at Leesha and saw her eyes were huge. She was staring at a metal light post which was swaying crazily back and forth, bending in the force of the wind. Yep, it was getting bad. Before we hurried for the safety of the bathrooms, I peeked outside and saw a thick wall of water surrounding the building. Sam later described it as "it wasn't raining sheets, it was raining MATTRESSES!"
The wind was howling and thunder rolling, and my legs were shaking from fright, I tell you that! Ruthie started texting their friends for prayers, and we then started singing "How Great Thou Art". (Earlier I had suggested we sing "I'll Fly Away", but no one really took up THAT suggestion!) The bathroom acoustics were wonderful and the harmonies of two family singing groups resounded through the restaurant. It was so funny, because when we girls finished the last powerful note, we heard the boys in the boys' bathroom still holding it out! We laughed so hard.
After the song ended, an employee told us the storm had lessened. We peeked out of the door and saw her mopping up puddles of water which had seeped through the doors. 14 people trooped out of the bathrooms and headed to the windows. The parking lot was solid water, but everything amazingly looked intact! Even Cub Foods was still there! (Ben had joked when we'd see Cub Foods gone, we'd be goners!) The Hainings' Sprinter looked okay and we trusted the Glory Bus was okay and didn't leak (it was parked behind the restaurant).
We waited some more, and around 10:00 p.m., we parted ways (sniffle!) and went out into the subsiding storm.
It just happened to be the day I failed to bring the camera or the Zoom, so I didn't get any of the adventure digitized to share. :( All we have are memories. As Leesha, Jayme, Ruthie, Pearl, Gracie, and I talked about the crazy night, Leesha said, "When we're all old, we'll say to each other, 'Do you remember that one time when that one storm came?'", making her voice sound old and scratchy, and making us girls laugh.
You never know what is going to happen when you're on the road! But it's always best to experience strange happenings with good friends.
Okay Hainings, I said I'd blog about; did I sum it up well? :)
Blessings and Joy in the Journey!
Taylor for TGF