I am not the kind of person who calls 911 at the drop of a hat. I have called that number in the past, however. Like the time I got rear-ended and I had Lina call while I dealt with the very irate woman who had hit me. Or the time I was driving past the church on a stormy night and I noticed the front doors were hanging wide open. (That time the police decided the doors had somehow been blown open by the wind.)
Then there was tonight. Our homeschool group requires that we each do some sort of “service” for the group during the school year. Back in the day, I did so much stuff for that group that I fulfilled my service requirements multiple times over every year. Now, it is more of a struggle to find something I can do. So I volunteered to host a game night for the teens tonight. I got permission to have it at our church, since I had no idea how many kids might come and I wanted to be sure there was room.
Spencer took some of our tables over there this afternoon. The game night started at 7:00, so I figured Lucy, Jasper and I should get there at about 6:00 so we could turn the heat on in the church and set up the tables and chairs.
We got to the church and I got the door unlocked and walked in. Jasper pushed open the door to the sanctuary and as I walked in I was overpowered by the smell of cigarette smoke. I noticed also that the church was nice and warm, so the heater had obviously been on for some time. There was a Dollar General bag on the communion table which contained a couple of packs of ramen noodles. But the truly terrifying detail was the fact that the coffee maker was on and was just starting to drip hot water through into the carafe.
The kids and I agreed that there must be someone in the building, someone who expected to have an uninterrupted evening in our church. I tried to call our elder but got no answer. I tried to call his wife but got no answer. I tried to call Walter but got no answer! I was not okay with being alone there with the kids and someone else, so I called 911 and we waited anxiously for the police to arrive.
Now I should tell you that there is a bit of a history here. About a month ago there was a homeless guy who broke into our church repeatedly, stole the offering money, ate all the food in the building, and spent the night there on many occasions. The church tried to help him by offering to get him to a shelter, but he refused. He actually came to the service on two occasions in exchange for being allowed to stay warm in the church at night. After the second time he came to church, he was transported to the Greyhound station and provided with a bus ticket to Dallas, which is what he said he wanted.
So of course our first thought was that the guy had come back. We were very relieved when a squad car drove up. The officer was very kind and understanding. He checked out all the rooms very thoroughly and even climbed up into the attic to make sure that no one was up there. The puzzling thing was that he didn’t find any signs of forced entry, yet he agreed that the guy must have been in the building when we arrived. Another officer came and together they searched outdoors and found more evidence of a vagrant encampment, with more ramen noodles and lots of trash.
It was an anxious few minutes, and we were so relieved to find that whoever it was had left the building. The police gave us a little pep talk about the importance of getting some sort of alarm system. I kind of felt bad for calling them, but the first officer put my fears to rest. He said he’d much rather I call and them not find anything, than not call and possibly put myself in danger.
Thankful as I was that the police had come, I was equally thankful that they left before the teenagers started showing up to play games. It might have been a little daunting to show up to play games and find police cars in the parking lot with lights flashing!
Based on the response to my Facebook post about the game night, I was expecting 8-10 kids. Instead we had 24! I think they had a good time. They brought plenty of goodies to share and I had my hot chocolate and spiced chai mix for them too. Toward the end of the game time, our elder came and tried to figure out how the intruder got in and out. I don’t think we came up with a definitive answer. I was just glad to close up and come home!
Believe it or not, we had another odd occurrence today too. At lunchtime, a man came to the door asking if he could have Jasper’s old bike frame that he had seen in our side yard. Somehow it went from his asking for the bike frame to him demanding that Walter get his tools and help him work on the bike. Walter lost almost his entire lunch hour trying to help the guy get a workable bike.
Fortunately, that guy was gone before my students arrived. After taking the vocabulary quiz, the “party” part of the class began. We had snacks and watched my favorite version of The Scarlet Pimpernel, which we had just finished reading. (In case you’re wondering, it’s the one with Jane Seymour, Anthony Andrews, and Ian McKellan.) After the movie, I asked the students if they had liked it, and one girl said, “You can just start replaying it any time you want!”
So, that was my day. It contained a little more excitement than I actually wanted.
Quote of the Day:
Jasper, after inhaling a cloud of tea powder produced while I was making spiced chai mix: “I didn’t know you could make tea in your mouth.”