You may recall that I gave Liuda her first driving lesson in July and then another one in August. It has been difficult to coordinate with her for driving lessons, especially since she has been sick for the last three weeks. She told me today that she has pneumonia.
Liuda has been sick at home all week and I asked if she’d like to get out for a driving lesson. She said yes.
The first two lessons I gave Liuda were in parking lots. I was trying to work with her on steering, staying in the right lane, signaling, turning, and parking. During the time since her last lesson, I scoped out the easiest road trip I could find for her. Knowing that she has not had an opportunity to pick up any speed, I found a road where the speed limit is between 25 and 35 miles per hour. It also had lots of curves for her to practice on and there wasn’t too much traffic. I took her there today.
I pulled into the parking lot of Whitefish Dunes State Park. I explained to Liuda about speed limits and told her what to expect on this route. Trying to prepare her for driving on a narrow road where other traffic might come toward her, I told her just to stay to the right if she saw a car approaching. I didn’t think to talk with her about what to do if cars came up behind her.
We switched seats and Liuda slowly pulled out of the parking lot. I directed her toward the entrance to Cave Point, a county park. As we came up to the stop sign at the juxtaposition of the two parks, I had my sun shield down so I could watch our back and I saw a car pull up behind us. I tried to play Charades to show her that she needed to roll down her window and signal to them with her hand. She was confused, so I rolled my window down and signaled and they went around. Then we turned onto the road to Cave Point.
When we got to the parking lot at Cave Point, I directed Liuda to pull in and park. I had noticed that she was a little shaky on the curves and straight stretches, so I gave her a little lesson. I showed her that the bar across the steering wheel should be horizontal when I say, “Straight”. She’s already good at left and right. I also reminded her that the speed limit on this road was 25 miles per hour. She was going more like 5 or 10 miles per hour.
We pulled back out onto the road. You wouldn’t think there’d be any traffic on a weekday on these back roads, but every so often a car would come toward us and it scared her a little. Once I saw a truck behind us and I directed her to pull over and stop because she was only going about 15 miles per hour. It surprised her to see the truck pass by us because she had not been looking in her rear view mirror.
We finally came to a place where we could stop again and look at Lake Michigan. We had a talk via the translation program on her phone. She told me she was scared because there were too many cars and too many things to do at once, such as watching her mirrors. I told her that I had selected this road because it is the easiest one in the area and that she eventually needs to get used to driving with other cars. I reminded her that soon this route would bring us to the highway. Fortunately, at that point in the highway it would be coming into Jacksonport and the speed limit was only 30 miles per hour. She said she was aware that she was using the brake more than the gas and I encouraged her to use the gas more.
She steered back onto the road and I could tell she was making a conscious effort to pick up the speed. The whole time she was speaking softly in Russian, presumably praying! We arrived at the highway (which, in Door County, consists of one lane each way with a yellow stripe down the middle) and after checking for cars, Liuda turned right and drove into Jacksonport. At one point I noticed some cars coming up behind her so I urged her to step on the gas a little more and this time we stayed ahead of them.
We turned into the parking lot of the city park in Jacksonport and I had Liuda park. My original intention had been to trade places with her at this point and drive her home, but as we were discussing what she had just done, she said it was “fun”. I asked her if she would like to go back the same route, and she said yes. She drove all the way back to the parking lot at Whitefish Dunes State Park.
At this point, I must admit that my body was tense and I was beginning to get a headache, but I had managed to appear calm through the whole ride except for one point when I had raised my voice a little to get her to steer back onto the road. Still, the triumph on her face when she parked and looked at me was worth it. She told me that her son-in-law would not take her out on a road to drive, only in parking lots, and that I was more brave than him. I told her that I knew she was scared but that she had done it. I told her I was proud of her!
We traded sides and I drove her home. As we pulled up in front of her house, I saw that her son-in-law’s car was parked there. I told her to tell her son-in-law where she had driven and that I had said she’d done good. She beamed and said she would surely tell him about it.
Before anyone thinks of telling me I was “good” to do this, let me ask that you not look at the story from this perspective. I write Liuda’s story to highlight the courage she has shown in learning to drive. In Mark 10: 17-18, it says:
As Jesus started on His way, a man ran up to Him and fell on his knees before Him. “Good Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
“Why do you call Me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good –except God alone.”
I do things like teaching Liuda to drive not out of my own goodness, but out of God’s. And I praise God for protecting us every time I take her driving!