Curtis and his Great Puppy Adventure. That was the lunchtime talk around our office when one of our team members became the proud owner of eight new puppies - thanks to his trusty dog, Sister. Each day seemed to bring a new episode - especially as Curtis would compare the way of the puppy with the ways of people. He told us one day about trying to replenish their food. His intention was to load up their container with lots of good things. But they made it very difficult. The puppies were too busy fighting over two little pieces that were left in the container.

It has been one of the great engineering challenges of our life together as a family - packing our car trunk for family trips. Many times I thought it was going to be a choice between the luggage and one or two of the kids. But summoning all of my tremendous engineering skills, I would stuff every corner, try the suitcases every which way until they went in; find things the kids could sit on. And when all else failed, I called my wife. Well, we finally got it all in, just barely. Then came the big moment - drum roll please - as I tried to close the trunk. It closed! There was dancing in the streets! Then, from behind, came the ambush as one of the kids showed up with one more bag I didn't know about. And there begins the frustrating search for a place to put just one more things in the space that is already jammed.

If you've driven across America much, you've probably seen a sign sometime for Wall Drug Store in Wall, South Dakota. They advertise all over the country. I was in Singapore and I saw an arrow pointing west - it said something like "Wall Drug Store 10,000 miles." This once little drug store in an unknown town has grown into a major tourist attraction - some days they'll draw 20,000 people! But it wasn't always that way. In 1931 a young pharmacist and his wife bought the drug store in Wall, this dusty little town on the edge of the Badlands. And for five years, they barely eked out a living. On the verge of giving up, the druggist's wife had an idea. Because of the new Mt. Rushmore attraction, lots of cars were going by - but they weren't stopping. Her idea? Advertise the one thing those travelers needed after driving across that hot prairie - ice water. They put out signs for free ice water, the people began to stop, and the rest is history. Here's what that couple said looking back over the years at the amazing things that had happened - no matter where you live, you can succeed because wherever you are, you can reach out to other people with something they need!

I hate to be late for a wedding - and I was. I had a carload of teenagers with me, and we were racing to make it to the church by 11. We pulled up at the church at 10:55 - and the parking lot was totally empty. Immediately my detective mind detected that something was wrong here. I drove over to the house where the reception was going to be held - they gave me the bad news - wrong church. I said, "Well, then, how do I get back to the main highway?" I was hoping for a shortcut, but no - I had to go back to the point where I shouldn't have turned and start there. We did get to see the bride go up the aisle - because I went back to where I went wrong - and then went right.

What do you call it when your dog has eight puppies? Octuplets? Ocpuplets? If you ask our Radio Production Manager, Curtis, he'd probably say you call it a handful. His dog Sister - no, she's not a relative - had eight puppies recently. And Curtis got to look after them until he could find homes for them. Eight can be a challenge. He told me about one day when he was just trying to get them back into their pen. He said, "I was doing all I could to push those puppies back in. I'd get two or three in - then while I was reaching for another one, one or two would wiggle back out." Well, after a lot of pushing and shoving, he finally gave up for a while. Curtis said, "Here's the funny part" - actually I though the picture of him losing to those puppies was the funny part - anyway, he said that within ten minutes, guess where those rambunctious puppies were - all of them were inside by the pen, without any pushing from him! They chose to do what he couldn't force them to do!

When we're driving somewhere for vacation, my travel philosophy is very simple and very male. The purpose of the trip is to be there, why waste unnecessary time getting there. So we drive some long stretches and we have gas, rest, and food stops down to a well timed drill. But, during the busy vacation seasons there is a down side to this and it comes at the end of when your body's saying, "Put me down, now!" Now since I don't know exactly how far we will be able to make it, I can't make a motel reservation. So, I get off where there are some choice of reasonable motels and I drive in hoping I can be horizontal within say 15 minutes. "No Chance," I hate words like these. "Sorry, We're Full." Or those dreaded words, "No Vacancy." Or the slightly more comforting sign, "Sorry." They all mean the same thing - no room, I'm not getting in.

I looked, I blinked, I looked again, and I still wasn't sure what I was seeing. We were driving next to a railroad track when I saw a vehicle moving along the railroad track, but not a train. A pickup truck. He was moving right along down the track like a train, but a truck? Trucks have tires, railroads have tracks. Tires don't ride on tracks. Well, as I looked closer I realized what was going on here. This was a maintenance truck for the railroad, specially modified to run on tracks. It was mounted with special train wheels extending out from both the front and back of the pickup. So because he had been specially outfitted, he was able to go where he normally could never go!

Who would think you'd miss a fleet of big brown trucks? Man, if they say UPS on the side, you'll miss them if they're off the streets for long! That's what America found out when the UPS drivers went on strike. Within hours in some cases, days in almost every case, thousands of UPS customers were in a crisis. I couldn't believe what the strike revealed, that 80 percent of America's packages, at least before the strike, were carried by UPS! Apparently, all the other guys were fighting it out for the other 20 percent. On the first day back after the strike, I'll bet some of those drivers were greeted with a standing ovation by some of their customers, "You're back! We're saved!" What a mess it was, huh? Businesses were almost on the ropes in a few days. They were manufacturing their product, the folks on the other end needed their product. But it wasn't happening. A sender and a receiver aren't enough, if the person delivering it isn't doing their job!

A few years ago I was touring an American Air Force base where they have housed nuclear missiles and B-52 bombers for many years. Along the way, the briefing officer told me something that made me very happy that the Cold War between us and the Soviet Union is history. Because it turns out that the Cold War almost got a whole lot hotter. My host told me about a couple of instances during the 1970s when our planes thought the U.S. was about to be under nuclear attack. In one case, the tracking seemed to prove that, so our pilots scrambled into their bombers, armed with nuclear weapons, and took off to retaliate against the Soviet Union. Obviously, that never happened, but the planes were actually in the air. The problem was in a little computer chip that had created an error in communications. It's pretty scary. There could have been bombs dropped, based on erroneous information.

You think you've had a bad day recently. Let me tell you about a bad day. It's the summer of '97, you're a cosmonaut on Russia's space station Mir. While you've been there you've already had to battle a fire on board. Then a supply ship runs into you in a docking procedure and you lose 40 percent of your power. You've already had your fill of bad days for one mission. But then, one day the central computer on the space station suddenly shuts down and suddenly you are tumbling through space in what reporters call "chaotic flight." As you know, I'm not making any of this up! The day that computer failed, it threw those cosmonauts into a particularly dangerous situation. That space station is solar-powered and all of a sudden, as one reporter put it, it lost its orientation to the sun. Which means you don't have the power to meet the demands of your flight and worst case your life is in jeopardy. Why? All because, as CBS News said, Mir turned it back on the sun.

            

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Ron Hutchcraft Ministries
P.O. Box 400
Harrison, AR 72602-0400

(870) 741-3300
(877) 741-1200 (toll-free)
(870) 741-3400 (fax)

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