Friday, June 28, 2013

Trial by Fire--part two

Someone commented yesterday that it was a pity I couldn't get a picture (or few) of Cairo Road. Believe me, picture taking was the last thing on my mind. I went in search of pictures online, but the only ones I found were out of date, or tourist lies promotional shots. Anyway, the one below will give you a general idea--use your imagination to add all the things I discussed yesterday:

In case I wasn't clear--not my picture

When we left off last time I was hurrying in the direction of the airport and searching for a place where I could use the facilities and get a bite to eat.

What I forgot to mention was that when we had the alarm installed the service guy explained it all to me, but it was very complicated. More than just an alarm that sounds when the car is broken into, there is also an immobilizer and an anti-hijacking device. 
Once the door is beeped open and you have settled in, there is a specific sequence that must be done in starting the car. You have to turn the ignition to ‘on’ and push a button, and then turn the engine on and then push another (hidden) button. The first button allows the car to turn on and the second button disables the anti-hijacking device. If you don’t push the second button the car engine will cut out about five minutes into your drive and alarms will sound and lights will flash.

It is very nice to have that added security, but it’s also quite complicated when you simply want to drive and/or have other things on your mind. 

This brings us to the airport drive that hectic day. To say I had other things on my mind is an understatement. I was nervous about doing the airport run on my own (I’m a confident driver usually, but Zambia is a different story—I promise to write even more about this later), and this day I was worried that we were running late, and I was hungry and needed a bathroom immediately.

I pulled into the first gas station I saw, noting that it had a little hamburger place next to it. I sent Troy over to peruse the fast food menu while I ran to the bathroom. This was easier said than done as first the key for the bathroom  had to be located, and then one with the key had to slowly get up off her seat, dig the key out of her pocket, and then stroll over to the side of the gas station and then leisurely open the door. Finally the door was open and I made quick use of the facilities and then ran back over to the hamburger place.   

There I found even more frustration as the ‘fast food’ employee was slowly and laboriously taking care of the contents of her cash bag and there were still two people ahead of us in line.

The two ‘fry cooks’ didn’t seem to be working with any type of speed either. I knew right then, there was no hope on God’s green earth of getting a ‘quick bite to eat’ so I dashed back to the gas station and scanned the shelves looking for something with protein and low-carbs so I could get what I really needed. Nothing! I eventually settled on some cashew nuts and bought those quickly.

Running back to the car I saw that we now had only 15 minutes to make it to the airport at the latest time I was shooting for. The last thing I wanted was for our new, sweet volunteer to feel stranded at the airport on her first visit to Africa.

I slid the key into the ignition, turned the key to ‘on’, clicked the alarm button—just as I’d been instructed—and then finished cranking the engine. Only, nothing happened. The engine wouldn’t turn over. 

I pushed the button to re-arm the alarm system and started over. Still nothing.

Now I was beginning to panic. The car had just been working perfectly. Now I couldn’t get it to start.

Tom’s phone battery had just died so I couldn’t call for help. The place where we bought the alarm had given us an enormous discount, but that meant no receipt. So, no phone number for them to call for assistance. I thought perhaps I could call the paint store where I had just left Tom, but didn’t know the phone number for them. The gas station was no help. They had no phone book at all.

When I got back to the car, Troy was sitting in the driver’s seat, trying the key sequence again and again. But, still no success. 

In between bites of cashew nuts (the low blood sugar was NOT helping the situation), I tried the key sequence again and again. Surely this is what insanity feels like--trying the same methods over and over while hoping for a different outcome.

I laid my head on the steering wheel and begged God to give me a miracle. I just had to get the car on the road and get to the airport. I had to!

As I lifted my head off the steering wheel, I glanced down and realized my gear stick was set to ‘drive’ instead of ‘park’. 


Could this be the problem?

I quickly reset the gears and turned the key. 

The engine started up immediately!

Praise Be!

Driving quickly to the airport (face burning with embarrassment) I found out that I had not lost my knack for handling roundabouts. Good news! I pushed the gas pedal down as much as I dared--narrowly avoiding a speed trap--and made it to the airport in record time. 

There we found out that the plane had been delayed and landed just after we walked into the airport. 

God is still on His Throne and He loves me.

Troy and I even had time for a quick chicken and chips (fries) lunch as the plane’s passengers disembarked and headed through immigrations and customs.

There were no further problems collecting Gilly and the rest of the evening was uneventful.  

I survived the adventure of driving in Lusaka! Hooray! And the car survived the adventure of having me as a driver. If it’s not one thing it’s another. 

Next up in the driving saga: Getting a Zambian driver’s license. Yes, that added to my stress. I was technically driving illegally. This next chapter is ongoing and once it reaches a conclusion I will share it with you.

Exactly Three Years Ago: Not the Favored One                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      


  1. Heather EslingerJune 28, 2013

    Oh my! That sounds like something I would have done (the car in drive vs. park thing) Doesn't God always have it planned right?? It's a good thing you have a sweet temperament because the "fast food" place would have been enough to drive me over the edge!

  2. As long as you have a valid US license, you should be able to get a Zambian one without the test. The office is a pain in the ass, of course. If you drive in luapula, you've been well trained, because more people & animals are in the road there than anywhere else.

  3. Mwabuka ! Just want to say I LOVE your blog. It brings back so many fond memories ! I lived in Zambia from 1964-1979 when my mom and dad left Zambia Christian Mission to venture where God was calling them. They returned 3 years ago to find the church's they started not only still going but bursting at the seams. My mom said my dad doesn't cry often, but going back unannounced to Kapyanga and seeing the original leaders he trained still there brought a tear of joy to his eyes ! I so admire the work you are doing. I support a little girl through World Vision in Mbala and would love to meet her someday. Sounds like the way of life hasn't changed much Have they renamed Adis Ababa Road ? Talk about an adventure in and of itself ! LOL Know that someone in Califonia is praying for you, your family and you foster children. God Bless You and keep you in his care.

  4. AmysAdventuresJuly 25, 2013

    Addis Ababa Road is still a road in Lusaka. Is that the one you mean?
    How wonderful that your father's work is carrying on. That's unusual and fantastic to hear!


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