Last Saturday we were on our way to town in a borrowed vehicle because our van was getting repaired. The borrowed van was brought to us on Friday night. In order for us to reach Jinja by 8am when rugby practice begins, we need to leave our house by 7:15 at the latest, so we packed our things for the day, including swimsuits for a missionary fellowship at a pool, costumes for a fall fair in town, along with the bottles, diapers, burp cloths and clothes needed for a baby, and got in the van. Little did we know that the van was brought to us without enough fuel to reach the nearest petrol (gasoline) station. As we got a few miles down the dirt road and started heading up a hill, the van sputtered and then stopped. It ran out of fuel. We found a friend who was willing to go get 5 liters of fuel and bring it to us on a boda. Since there was not a funnel, they decided to use a banana leaf. Ugandans are so resourceful with local materials!
The fuel was enough to start the vehicle once. But then it stopped again. Apparently because we were on a hill, the fuel was in the back of the tank and not enough to keep the vehicle going. After trying to start it multiple times, the battery also stopped working. We coasted backward down the hill to more level ground, but since the battery had also stopped working, we were unable to get the van started. Eventually, our mechanic was able to come with more fuel, a replacement battery and get us back on the road by about 10:00am. It was too late for our children to make it to their sports practices, but we did get some patience practice. 😉 We also were able to make it to Jinja soon enough to spend some time with friends, go swimming and participate in the fall fair.
Yesterday, we still had the borrowed van, but we made sure it had enough fuel. On the way into town there was a stalled vehicle on the bridge which caused about a half hour delay and provided some more patience practice, but we still arrived in time for most of the sports practices. Elijah chose to see the bright side and said that they might miss some of the fitness training and drills, but they would be there in time for scrimmaging. In town, we didn't have much trouble accomplishing our errands other than briefly getting stuck in the mud, but some friends helped us out and it only took a few minutes. We stayed in town for lunch, then went to pick Esther up from a friend's house on the way back home. We had planned enough time for me to have a few minutes at home after unloading and putting things away before going to my Bible study. But little did we know that another adventure awaited.
After picking up Esther, we were heading back toward the main road when a bump in the muddy dirt road caused the two- wheel drive van we were using to slide over into a ditch. Since the wheels were spinning in the mud, our 3 boys, a young man from GSF who was with us for the day, and I all got out to push while David drove and Esther held the baby.
We were able to get the van to move forward, but never got enough traction to get it out of the ditch. We also got covered with quite a bit of mud that the tires sent flying.
Many men who were nearby working came to help, but even with many strong men pushing, the vehicle was stuck. I walked with our younger boys to the house of another missionary who I knew had a 4-wheel drive vehicle and was likely to have a chain or tow rope. This family also has a camel named Chewy, so we got a few photos.
They were not home. While we were standing in front of their gate, Ezra was coming up with all kinds of ideas about how to solve this problem. He said, "I really like this type of situation because of all the possibilities for how to solve the problem." He is a creative problem-solver and I love that about him! I also love that he was able to enjoy using his gifts rather than complaining about the delays. As we were waiting for the family to either come to the gate or get home, a truck drove by. I waved for them to stop and asked them to drive down the road and assist my husband. They found a rope and tried pulling the van out with that until the rope broke. Then they found a cable of some sort and were able to use that to pull the van backward and then forward to get out of the ditch!
We arrived home much later than planned and covered with mud, but thankful that we were home! I quickly showered and changed in order to go to our Bible study celebration. This Bible study group completed listening to the entire New Testament in Luganda! We have been meeting weekly to listen to a section of the New Testament, discuss it, worship and pray together. It has taken over a year, but we have been able to start in the book of Matthew and continue all the way through the end of Revelation! Since we knew we would be finishing on Saturday, we planned a big celebration. The women had been cooking most of the day in order to have a big meal together celebrating the completion of listening to the New Testament. The students joined us and everyone had enough to eat!
It was a wonderful time! I am so thankful that these women and students have heard so much of God's Word and desire to continue.
While there have definitely been challenges, I also see that there is much to celebrate and be thankful for. I am thankful that in the midst of these challenges, God has enabled us to consider it pure joy (at least mostly), and see these times as opportunities rather than just frustrations. God has provided people to help us in our times of need. These struggles with a borrowed vehicle also help us to see what a blessing our van has been! We look forward to getting it back before our next trip to town, Lord willing. I am also thankful to be able to be a part of this group meeting together to hear God's Word! It is beautiful to see the way several of these women and students have come to know and love Jesus as they have learned more about him. I pray that God will help me to see the challenges of each day from his perspective and rejoice at the many ways He is at work!