Padayatra America Report, Part II
Posted July 7, 2003
(June 9, 2003)
Changing the Wheels - Part Two
This mission of changing the old antique, original wheels over to modern day rubber tires was a real challenge, but one that the Lord must have wanted.
We started on Monday 9 June.
The day started with a nice morning programme. I had been craving the association of devotees and Krishna had mercifully arranged some dedicated vaisnavas to join me in the middle of next to nowhere. My mother again cooked some breakfast pancakes to offer to the deities. She also has many roses and flowers around the yard, so I picked loads and began to make garlands. I made one and so did my Mother. Her first garland for Sri Sri Nitai-Gaura Sundara. It was ecstatic.
After serious inspection, consultation and prayer, Avadhuta Prabhu, a very serious and sincere devotee mentioned that we needed a welder. It just so happened that my Parents had a friend that lived nearby who was a welder. After prasadam we went to visit him with wagon wheel and the hub from the center of the wagon wheel. This hub is the part that we needed to get welded to the metal rim of a standard rubber tire. This hub piece then fits onto the axle of the wagon.
My parents friend was not sure the job could be done. He said first we needed tires. So off we went to the nearby scrap yard to hunt down some new used tires for the wagon. The manager of the yard told us he didn't think he had any size nineteen tires. This is a tire that fits a large truck. The back wooden wheels were pretty big and we needed to match them fairly close. He told us to have a look anyway.
We began to hunt without much joy. After about thirty minutes, nothing. We were about to leave when I spotted two tires just sitting alone in the far corner near the front of the yard. I said to Avadhuta Prabhu to hold on. We checked the two tires and sure enough they were two size nineteens in excellent condition with stylish matching rims. A highly unlikely find and so expertly positioned. As if the Lord himself had placed them there. We became ecstatic with the game Krishna was playing. We wheeled the wheels to the front and asked how much. The manager said $25 a piece. We thought this a bit expensive, but said nothing. We decided to look for two smaller tires for the front of the wagon. After about two hours in the baking sun on top of a twenty foot hill of used tires, we found some matches and headed for the exit. Avadhuti Prabhu did some expert preaching and the manager cut us a deal, all four tires for $38. What a deal! Another person engaged in service to Nitai- Gaura Sundara.
We returned to the welder, Mike, who said he didn't have the tools for this job. He sent us about thirty miles away to find a welder he didn't have the number of or even know where his place was exactly. Mike said we would have to ask in the local 7-11 or gas station. What a trip? After several stops we were told where the shop was, but it was closed. The lady told us what street his house was on and we started knocking on doors randomly. Three tries and one big dog later, we found him - Lee Moore. In the end he gave us some good ideas, but was very busy and said it would cost quite alot. He could not do the job for at least three days. We returned home a bit deflated.
Avadhuta Prabhu preached to me. He assured me that there was a specific person the Lord wanted to engage in this service and that we had to be instruments in his hands to help find this person. He said the person had to have the right mentality, nature and sukriti. Avadhuta Prabhu spoke alot of an Amish friend who lived sixty odd miles away that maybe could do it, but we would have to drive there in hopes he would be there and be able to do the job. Avadhuta Prabhu spoke highly of the God centered lifestyle the Amish people led and said they have the right mentality.
Tuesday June 10, 2003
Nir Jal Ekadasi
The next morning I began searching through the phone book and calling no less than twenty welders in the area. My mother mentioned a Menonite person nearby who did some welding. I called him and he told me of two other Menonite welders nearby. Neither of them was home so we went into Frederick with four appointments.
The first guy said it would take about a week to do and cost about $350 a wheel. The second guys were excited, but did not have the tools and materials. The third guy could get to it in about a week and would do it for $500. The fourth gut said NO way, it cannot be done we are wasting our time. He sent us to a fifth guy who said it couldn't be done. Needless to say the heat of the day and the nir jal fasting were taking it's toll. Although fully engaged, the results I wanted were not there and I was beginning to doubt what Krishna really wanted. Did he want these rubber tires or NOT?
The main problem was that the hub was cast iron and a weld may not hold to it, not to mention, the hub itself may even crack if welded to. There had been many different ideas and opinions. The most practical idea was that the hub would need a steel sleeve over the top of it, to them be welded to a disc that would mount on the metal rim of the rubber tire. The disc would be attached by the lug nut holes and this way the tire could be removed if there were a flat.
Avadhuta Prabhu's strong faith and firm convistion reassured me. I called my Mother to ask if any of the Menonites had called back. She said two of them and they were interested. We sped home to try some more possibilities. Anxious to find that person the Lord wanted to engage in his service.
We called Dan Madden. He asked questions and said it was unlikley, but we might get lucky. He told us to bring the wheel and hub down. He lived only about five miles away. Optomism! I could hear it in his voice he was optomistic and up for the challenge.
On arrival he immedietly pulled the wheel from the trunk and went into his shop. he started to measure and ask questions. He was professional and light hearted, very warm and friendly, an up state New Yorker with a love for the country and travelling. He had an admiration for the mission these great devotees had undertaken and did not want to fix things in a way that would be unsure. He wanted to help, but didn't think it could be done. He decided to come to the house and see the wagon.
He looked, measured, we talked and finally he decided to try and experiment with the first wheel. If it didn't work he would not charge, but if it did work he would do the rest for a smaller price than the others had quoted. Still a bit more expensive than we wanted but this guy was the person. We could sense his refreshing friendly open nature. So different from the too busy business minded others we had approached. Here was a pious man with the necessary credits, the Lord could use him.
Now we had to wait and see the result.
Wednesday June 11, 2003
Breaking fast was a delight. The Lord's mercy that we can satisfy the senses with such nice prasadam. The nir jal cleansing had not been as difficult as others and the day had yielded great hope for the Padayatra America programme.
I had truly been blessed by the Lord. He had appeared personally at the home of my family. Making the ground a Tirtha. Purifying them in service and sanctifying my life with so much opportunity for service, association and experience. I had been blessed and was beginning to really feel some special mercy. What a rascal I am for doubting and not really fully commiting myself. What a great pretender? I could really develop my faith. I was seeing how the Lord was arranging everything and I was just a puppet. Did I really want to surrender and be a tool, ... or did I want to enjoy? Did I want to control and be in charge? Now was an opportunity to be an instrument and be engaged. I had to take this step and really become more committed to the wonderful movement that was started single handedly by Srila Prabhupada. Just see the great mercy he has given. The chance for perfection he had planted. I was seeing some fruit and I was becoming enlivened. My family and friends could not believe how things were coming together and what was happening. Too many coincidences.
Dan came with the tire. IT WORKED! We were in business. the Lord had found the person and this time Dan got darshan of Sri Sri Nitai-Gaura Sundara. More mercy!
Now there was a new problem. The front wheels turned, and if they were not placed correctly would impede the steering of the wagon. More drawing board conversation and thinking, measuring and contemplating.
Thursday June 12, 2003
Two tires down and two to go
I saw how hard the devotees were working. I observed Avadhuta Prabhu shoeing the huge eighteen hand Draft horses. These horses were huge, one thousand pounds in weight each! It took him one hour to do one shoe. I was amazed at his patience, tolerance and persistence. It had to be done and he did it. I reflected on how tough I think it is in Central London sometimes. Book distribution is not an easy service, though laced with lots of sweet nectar. This service that Avadhuta Prabhu and his good wife had taken on was truly Sankirtana spirit. They were spreading the mercy and they were working hard. This is an ideal Grhastha couple. I was greatly impressed and again felt very fortunate to be in their presence.
The late afternoon brought on a serious thunder storm. There was lots of lightning and heavy down pours. This was the result of two days of seriously humid and scorching weather. Avadhuta Prabhu was in bliss, being of South American descent. I was suffering the conditioning of London hazy rainy conditioning. I just wanted some shade.
The last two tire arrived. They fit and looked good. The wagon had now been transformed from old antique to ready for action. The tap dance shoes were now rugged hiking boots and the Lord was ready for a serious trek acroos country.
Friday June 13, 2003
We painted the tires and adjusted the brakes. Another serious endeavour. I really wish I was detached and had faith in the Lord. I become so easily frustrated. I want it all to work how I want when I want... and it just doesn't!
Finally the mission was complete. I could not believe it! DONE! ALAS!
The Padayatra America wagon had its next mission in line now. It was getting late on a Friday. Traffic would be heavy and they had a two lane bridge to cross into Virginia. They had to get moving. They washed the horses, prepared the horses and within and hour of completion, were ready to go. What dedication and commitment to a project. They are an inspiration. What have I done in a past life to deserve this association? Me and my family had been blessed. The Lord and two saints (four counting the devotee horses) had blessed our home and were now ready to deliver more mercy elsewhere.
They set off.
I felt an emptiness, a longing. The Lord was missing. Maybe something like Krishna leaving the gopis. Although I am far far from this level. I had been touched very very very deeply by this experience. I could never have planned this and was somehow used. I felt satisfied, but missed the Lord. I pray I never lose this longing for the association of devotees and desire to be fully engaged in service to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Lord Krishna in his most munificent appearance as Lord Sri Caitanya MahaPrabhu had just danced into my life and blessed me with so much wonderful mercy. I am humbled and feel completely unworthy of such blessings. I only hope that I can share this mercy with many others. Thank you Krishna for engaging me in your service, please continue to purify my existence and keep me always as an atom at your Lotus Feet. My desire ... to be a servant of the servants or the servants, but I am so proud. Maybe one day I will truly appreciate the mercy of Srila Prabhupada. My prospective spiritual master H.H. Radhanath Swami and all the Vaisnavas.
Just a thought and now just a memory.
Vanch kalptarubhyas ca
Krpa-sindhubhya eve ca
Vaisnavebhyo namo namah