This is the detailed version of one of the most incredible, pivotal moments of my life. An experience where I can truly see God working through me rather than it being on my own accord. I’ve shared pieces of it to people in talks and different ways, but this includes everything. It’s a long write-up, so I’ve broken it up into three parts. I’ll share part two tomorrow and part three on Friday.
By January 2007, I had been volunteering with The Tidings for about 3 full months. I learned about the third annual Walk for Life, a similar event to the March for Life in Washington, D.C., but this would be in San Francisco. I asked the publisher of the paper if the San Francisco event is something they planned to cover. I told him I was interested in being part of the experience. Maybe to help out in some way.
I remember being surprised when he said no. No one covers that. “Really?” I thought. “But it’s in this state!” After all, how big is California, really? I had no concept of the distance.
Well, since no one on staff was going, they decided to send me to San Francisco to cover the event. They couldn’t guarantee that they’d publish what I submitted, but they gave me a chance to try.
Me? The girl from South Carolina? I had never done anything journalistic before. How was I supposed to pull this off? What was I supposed to do first? I had so many questions.
The editor gave me a crash course in organizing a news article. He explained the difference between a soft and hard lede (a featurey opening versus being straight and to the point). None of that really made sense, but I tried to act like I understood.
I made contact with the event’s media coordinator and confirmed my interest in having a chance to interview a few of the planned speakers after the rally. He told me where to go and when to meet up. So that much was set. I drafted a list of potential questions to ask the speakers. I was anxious enough without wanting to wing everything.
Forever seeking the frugal option, I turned down the offer for the paper to cover the costs for me to fly to San Francisco. Instead, I opted to drive. I’m really not sure what possessed me to do that, but I knew it would allow me to actually see some additional parts of the state.
I printed out a set of directions through Mapquest (this was before I had a GPS in my car). And early Friday morning, I set off for what would be at least seven hours of driving. I planned a detour to Lindsay, California, for a photo op. (Sadly, I no longer have a photo.) I thought it was awesome that the town didn’t have a funky spelling variation.
Throughout my drive, there were three prayer requests I made constantly: Lord, guide me in the right direction, lead me to the people I need to speak with and help me know what to do. Looking back, it’s amazing to see how above and beyond God went in answering those prayers.
Lord, guide me in the right direction
It was a pretty peaceful drive up, winding through the countryside and seeing the geography change. There was actually some snow as I got outside the desert of Los Angeles County.
After a long morning and afternoon of driving, I made it to the Oakland-San Francisco bridge, where the toll booth operator decided to have a conversation with me. He remarked on my height, which I found odd since I was in my car, but I guess he’s not used to seeing a woman’s head nearly hitting the roof of the car. He asked if I had a boyfriend before finally taking my bill. Flustered, I answered honestly, “No.” Then, turning to give me my change, he said I was beautiful and asked if I’d marry him. Only then did the car behind me honk. I smiled, thanked him and continued driving.
My directions indicated that about a mile after crossing the bridge, I was supposed to make a right-hand turn. So I kept pace with the rest of traffic while being on guard for my turn. And at one point, I was startled to see a cable car pulling up in the lane beside me. For some reason I wasn’t expecting to see them running with the rest of traffic. And I wondered what would have happened had I attempted to get in that lane.
Well, I traveled far more than a mile and never saw my turn. Instead, I found myself in a turn-right-only lane. Since the surrounding traffic was too chaotic to attempt to merge left, I decided not to fight it and just went with it.
I kept driving. The traffic was too heavy to maneuver to the left lane. There weren’t many stop lights on this road, so if I wanted to turn around, I knew it needed to be a left turn. Before I knew it, there was a sign overhead announcing that soon the road I was on would branch off into three directions. I had to make a choice; there wasn’t an alternative. So, looking quickly at the street names, I selected the road that seemed the most familiar, based on my time on Mapquest looking at the route and the surrounding area.
So I took that road and continued driving. Only now did it really start dawning on me how stupid it was to drive this far in the wrong direction. So I made more of an effort to find a place to turn left.
I spotted an opening. U-turns weren’t allowed at this intersection, so I made a simple left turn. There was an immediate stop sign, and as I stopped I decided to check the street name. I couldn’t believe it. This was Ulloa Street, the street I was looking for. Not my intended turn off from my directions, but the final destination for where I would be staying that night.
It was a one-way street, though, and the address numbers were getting smaller instead of bigger. So I continued straight. This road ended at a roundabout. I had about 5 roads to choose from. Which way do I go now?
Well, I spotted a police officer standing on the side of the road near one of the options. I figured I would go that way and pull over and ask for help. But there was no place to pull over and cars were right behind me. So I kept going.
A little ways down this road, a red light forced me to stop. I decided to check the street names. There I was, at the intersection for Ulloa Street. I turned right. And a few blocks later, I was parked outside of the house.
As the relief flowed over me, I knew immediately that the Holy Spirit had guided me to where I needed to be. There was no other way to explain it. God has guided me in the right direction.
Stay tuned! Part two is coming tomorrow. (Edited: Part two is here.)