Wow… It has been entirely too long since my last blog entry.
So much has happened in the past few weeks that I hope I can recount the events in proper fashion.
I’ll take us back to over two weeks ago when Jessi, Sunda and I loaded up the Toyota Landcruiser (a fellow missionary friend’s vehicle) and started off for Nyawa for the weekend. It had been raining steadily for several days prior so we knew that the roads were going to be rough. The trip takes me about 2 hours 30 minutes on the dirt bike from our base so we allotted 5 hours in the vehicle because of how slow you have to take the choppy roads.
Our estimate was nearly correct.
There were a few spots on the way there that we had to put into practice the “rocking” technique (you put the truck in first then reverse and continue that until you rock yourself out of the muddy area). Other than that, we had an enjoyable trip to Nyawa. Jessi managed to get a few great shots of the truck in its prime.
I played with this pic and added the text...thought it summed up our commitment to the neglected. I had a good time driving!
We had an excellent weekend of ministry. Jessi and I both spent some time teaching in the church during various times over the weekend. Of course, Sunda kept everyone entertained when we weren’t conducting our meetings. Just before we had sat down for a lunch we noticed that Sunda was leading a bunch of kids into the church building. We followed the crowd to find that she was organizing her own church service. “Ok, you sit down…I’m going to preach,” she told the kids who were all older than her. She went on to tell them “Jesus loves you” and she sang them a few songs to which they all stared in awe… It was priceless.
Above is a pic of Jessi and Sunda carrying water after pumping it out of the borehole.
We tried to get out into one of the more remote areas for an evening service and got stuck for over an hour in thick mud. After getting the truck out of that jam, we decided to turn back. I had some of the guys in a nearby village help me by laying branches over the muddy area so we could ride over it without getting stuck again. The only problem was that I didn’t notice the man who threw part of a tree trunk in the mud instead of a branch…never a good thing. So, naturally, when I sped over the branched area I hit the stump which shot into the side of my tire and whoosh…goodbye, tire.
It was a sidewall puncture so there was no use in patching it. We put the spare on and made it the rest of the way back to our Nyawa base. The next morning we had a great Sunday service where several people committed their lives to Christ for the first time. We said our goodbyes and left in order to get home before nightfall.
The road was basically the same as when we had arrived so we remembered which areas to maneuver around and managed to stay un-stuck for the majority of the trip back.
We were just one kilometer away from getting onto the main road and one large mud puddle away from being finished with “mud bogging” when disaster struck. A large water spot that we had easily plowed through on the way to Nyawa stopped us dead in our tracks and left the bed of the truck filling with water. We had water coming into the driver side door and no amount of rocking helped. We were truly stuck.
Several villagers came within the first 20 minutes, but no amount of pushing helped. We finally had to restort to calling the Overland base and having Arthur (the owner of the truck) and Jeff (another missionary with a Land Rover) come and pull us out of the hole.
We came to find out that the night before, two large coal trucks got stuck in the same spot and made the hole extremely deep, which is why we made it through no problem the day before and got stuck this day.
Arthur and Jeff arrived and after using a Hi-Lift jack to prop up the four corners of the truck, we put lots of rocks and rubber mats under the wheels and then pulled the truck out of the ditch with the help of the Land Rover and a chain. All of this took nearly 5 hours.
Needless to say, we were all ready for a good night sleep when we arrived at the base past midnight.
The next "blog-able" event happened just the next day. I was asked to rush into town in order to pick up a fan belt for one of our trucks because it was broke down in a nearby village and the shops were about to close for the day (you don't want to leave your trucks anywhere overnight because of theft). I threw my helmet on and made way for town. At one of the tougher spots, I geared down to 2nd and let the dirt bike crawl down some large rocks that lead to a small stream. As I was crawling over the rocks, a wingless wasp (we know them in the states as cow ants) crawled onto my hand and stung me...OUCH! I instinctively threw my hand off of the handlebars and at the same time came off of a large rock. The handlebars shot to the right and I went hurtling over the bike. A few rolls and umphs later I came to a stop and did a quick inventory. I had busted my hand open and my arm was scraped up, but there were no major problems. I jerked up the bike (now quite frustrated) and made it the rest of the way into town in time to pick up our spare and get our vehicle out of the village.
The next day I jumped on my dirt bike and left for Nyawa again to continue my Tuesday teachings that have been occuring over the last month (and will be occuring for the next several months). The trip took just about 2 and a half hours (mostly off-road), but I didn't get hung up in the mud like the truck did (oh, the joy of being able to use the footpaths). We had a great time of teaching and then arranged to have an evening meal in one of the nearby villages. The people were so excited to have me because I was the first white person to share a meal with them in their village. They had been preparing some meat for me over the last few days (they leave it out to dry for a few days, boil it and then serve it like jerky). The only problem is that they must not have boiled it long enough because I woke up very early in the bush the next morning feeling very, very sick. It is not fun to be sick out in the bush.
After realizing that this was not going away any time soon, I chose to leave earlier than planned that morning and I started off on the long journey back to the base on the bike. That was a long bike ride! I finally got the mess out of my system a week later.
After that crazy week, we decided to take a relaxing weekend with our friends, the Combrink's. It was a wonderful weekend. We kicked back, enjoyed the company of our friends, and Sunda enjoyed her best friends Michael and Kent. She is starting to get brave in the pool these days...
The following week I made my weekly trip to Nyawa and was excited to see that it hadn't rained the past week so the large, muddy areas were finally drying. We had an excellent time of ministry and teaching, but as the meeting ended the storm clouds rolled in. We quickly visited a few villages, prayed for the sick and I looked at their water situations. Here is a very typical situation for the Nyawa chiefdom.
This is what the people of two villages drink out of (along with their cattle and any other animal that wants to). It is full of disease. They need a borehole.
This particular village was so excited that I was coming, they literally built a shelter for me to sit under as they corporately denounced Satan and agreed to give their lives to Jesus Christ. Can you imagine 20 families dancing as you arrive for the first time at a village and seeing all of them standing together and publicly denouncing the devil and offering their lives to Christ. It was amazing. We shared a meal together (no meat this time!), I preached to them about God's great love and desire for wholehearted followers, and we headed back to Pastor Sweyn's house.
I decided that I was not going to spend the night and instead I left at about 7 pm to try and beat the coming storm. That decision turned into one of the longest nights of my life! The ride in the dark didn't bother me because I had done that before, but it was a bit tougher on the bush roads at night. After about 15 km's into the trip, I noticed that my front wheel was a bit flat so I stopped the bike and used a hand pump with a CO2 cartridge to bring the pressure up. I started off again and made it to Zimba, where the road gradually gets better until you hit Lusaka Rd. (the main paved road). There is another 15 km's of dirt road before you hit the paved road, but it is much smoother and easy to ride on. I was about half way on that dirt road when my bike tire began to feel strange. I pulled over to find that it was completely flat. A quick inspection of the tire showed that a large nail had found my wheel and penetrated through both sides of the tube. I pulled all of my patch kit and tools out from my tool bag that I carry and went to work at pulling the tire off of the room (a job that is not easy or fun at 10pm with little light and no assistance). Using my kick stand, I propped the bike and pulled the tube out. It was a badly damaged, but I managed to patch the holes with three patches. Next, I went to fill the tube with air to see if the patches were working and the valve came completely off of the tube. Now I was in big trouble. When your valve tears off, you need to just pitch the tube because there is no use. My only problem was that I had no other options. So I forced the valve back in the tube, opened up a nut at the bottom of the valve and I forced the rubber between the base of the valve and the nut. I tightened everything, laid hands on the tube and prayed for God to seal everything. Next I put air in the tube and to my astonishment, the tube grew large...it was holding air! I worked the tube back into the tire and fit the tire back onto the rim. I was good to go.
I made it to Livingstone at 1 am and stopped to get a drink and some food at the 24 hour diesel station (this is a new 24 hour service...hallelujah!) I arrived at the base past 2am and collapsed on my bed...I couldn't believe I had made it back.
The next day I woke up late and worked on the bike all day. We were planning on leaving at 3am the next morning to drive to Zambia's capitol, Lusaka, where I was going to purchase a trampoline for Sunda. We made that trip without any issues and Sunda has not stopped bouncing since!
Phew, I'm out of breath just typing this thing. I know it isn't told as wonderfully as my wife can tell a story, but it does give you a good picture into what life is literally like around the clock here in Zambia as sector managers.
I'll work on getting you all a pic of Sunda bouncing on the trampoline.
Love you guys...