...and then the angry man punched the Bus Driver in the face...
You know, there is only one thing in life that we can control - only one. And when things don't go the way we like, we still have control of that one thing. And this became so apparent last Saturday as we prepared to take Incarnate 2016 into Rome for the day.
Dileep did his job right, booking 34 bus tickets on the "Express/Roma" bus line, which was to pick all of us up at the end of a lonely off-ramp called "Colledara", just outside of Isola del gran Sasso where we are running Incarnate. And some of us got up quite early that morning, to wait for the second round of vans to transport us the 4.5 kilometers from our School to the stop.
Then the bus pulled up, and 34 of us tried to get on. Whoops - there were already too many people on the bus! It seems the driver and his helper had already allowed too many people on who had NOT booked their tickets online or ahead of time, on this bus - after all, this is rural Italia - and the result was chaos. The poor bus driver kept coming on the bus's little PA system, asking the Italians on board different things (we found out later that it was "scrunch up", or, "Maybe get off if you got on without a ticket", and the final straw for one angry man, "please take all your children off the seats, and put them on your lap now". We all started to pray.
Dileep and I realized after 10 minutes of going no-where, that the situation was deteriorating - you could feel the tension rising in the bus. More prayer, and then a determination - Teri and I stood up, and asked for 6 Incarnate Students to volunteer to get off with us, not knowing if we'd get to Rome that day, but it was obvious that the bus wouldn't leave with people standing in the aisles.
6 wonderful souls got off the bus with Teri and I. The bus doors were just closing when there was suddenly screaming coming from inside. It seems one of the Italians on board had had enough with the chaos, and so brought some of his own to play - by slugging the bus driver in the side of the face, after reaching between two of our students to do so!!!
The screaming came from the Bus driver's wife and child, who were sitting in front along with some other concerned passengers, who grabbed the man and pulled him back! The Carabinieri (Police) were called, and the drama continued. When it was all finished, the man was fined, the bus left 8 of us there on the side of the road, with four empty seats we found out later!
One of those who got off with us was a lovely Italian from the Center that is hosting us, who has befriended us, and was coming into Rome with us that day. She called the Center's leader, and he in turn called the Express/Roma company to tell them that what was happening was entirely out of order, and to get a vehicle and someone up there to take us to Rome straight-away. Low and behold, a van appeared within 10 minutes, and the driver went so fast down the motorway, we overtook the bus and got to Rome 5 minutes ahead of the bus!!!
We had an awesome day in Rome after all. But came away with some great lessons from the experience earlier that morning. At the end of the day, none of us can control our circumstances, but we can control our response - our attitude towards them. And the lesson I took from that experience once again, is that no matter what happens, look to God. He is the one who is in charge of our plans. He is the one in charge of our timetables. And of course He is the one Who holds our lives. Friends, never let your circumstances dictate your attitude - let that rather be the Holy Spirit Who reigns within our hearts.