Monday, September 16, 2013

24 Hours

A couple weeks ago I had a pretty rough 24 hours. I vented about it on Facebook when I was actually trembling from accumulated stress and the expenditure of adrenaline.

My week had actually been going alright. Because Tom was out of the country I took the opportunity to have two of the little girls, Queenie and Theresa, accompany Kathrin and I to Mansa for our regular bi-monthly shopping trip. We got a room with two twin-sized beds and had a fun day of running errands, eating pizza in a restaurant, and then got a good night sleep before our shopping the next day.

Everything was wrapped up in a good time the following morning, and after enjoying a relaxing lunch with a missionary friend, the four of us got on the road at a reasonable time. This made me happy because I don’t enjoy driving this particular stretch of road as the sun lowers in the sky. Not only is it harder to see as we drive toward the setting sun, but the roads begin to fill (even more than usual) with people and animals all heading home.

We were about an hour from home when I saw a convoy of government vehicles coming our way in the opposite lane. I recognized them. They had passed us the previous day going in the opposite direction. I get annoyed whenever I see these convoys because it epitomizes one of the things I dislike most in developing countries. Here were $80,000 vehicles driving, through a terribly impoverished province, in a convoy with only two – three passengers, in cars designed to carry 5-6, and in a country where gas costs over $7 a gallon. It’s a colossal waste of money!

The previous day as I was passing them, one of the vehicles tried to pass the lead vehicle which put it directly in my lane. Only by pulling off the road did I avoid a collision. 

So, here they were passing us again. And the lead vehicle was riding the center marker! I flashed my lights making sure they could see me. They didn’t move over at all. They kept coming at a high rate of speed. I immediately pulled off the road--my heart pounding. As I’ve told this story to friends here they nod their heads knowingly, “Sweepers”. Apparently it’s normal!

We were fine, the car was fine, and the rest of the drive was uneventful.

We got home, finished putting away groceries, and then we all worked together on making French bread pizzas for dinner. 

Dinner was nearly ready when Sarah came running up out of breath and said she needed help. A staff member was leaving for the day, and during the routine security check something odd had come up. I walked down to reception praying that it was a misunderstanding. I had gotten to know this particular person quite well. I was sure there was an easy explanation. 

Arriving at the entry way I dismissed everyone and just had a quiet chat with the lady. She immediately confessed that she had stolen sausages. She reached into the front of her pants and pulled out a package of four sausages. My heart sank. 

I couldn’t even deal with it. I told her she was on immediate suspension. She went home. I had just found out that I was going to have to drive the 12 hours down to Lusaka on my own so I was leaving the very next day in order to do it over two days. I had no time to figure out how to take care of an employee who had broken our trust. 

She had her excuses. One was that she thought we fed the kids too much food and so it was better that she take it home. So ridiculous. And yet, she felt completely justified. Or, she said she did. 

I was sick to my stomach the rest of the evening, but I had absolutely no time to dwell on it. I had work to do to get ready for my week in Lusaka starting with the drive the next day. I had to pack. Had to leave everything ship shape for those helping out in my absence. Had to finish up work so that deadlines wouldn’t be missed.

There was one large job hanging over my head. Our dog, Simba, had been having behavior issues for some time. We tried to find him a new home, but it didn’t work out. Then. A terrible accident. Somehow he got startled and he bit Sarah on the face. We had no choice. He had to be put down. 

With no vet anywhere in the area, I called the police. I will spare you the details, but it was truly horrific. Tom asked me later why I was present for the whole thing and I told him I felt I owed Simba the dignity of not being alone. I don’t know. Maybe it was a mistake. 

I had asked the police to come in the morning, but they only showed up late in the afternoon. I was supposed to be on the road so I didn’t have to drive in the dark. Recently some friends of ours had an accident that resulted in a little girl losing her life. Also, previously in our large Landcruiser, while hitting a goat or pig was unpleasant, at least it wouldn't demolish the car. In our new, small car this is not the case. I wanted desperately to drive during daylight hours.

However, by the time everything was taken care of and the car was packed up and Troy and I could drive out the gate, it was nearly 5. I prayed desperate prayers for safety and pulled out of our driveway. Thankfully, Troy and I made it safely to Mansa where I was able to collapse into bed and try to process the previous 24 hours and all they had contained.

I sent out an urgent Facebook message and immediately kind thoughts and prayers flooded my way. I felt loved. It’s wonderful that an ocean or a continent is not too much distance to feel the prayers of loved ones. 

I know that God is always with me, and part of the way he takes care of me is by sending so many of you, my friends, to my aid. Thank you for all your kind words and prayers all the time. They mean so much to me!

The next day we were back on the road by 6 AM. And that day held yet another adventure. But that’s a story for another day.


  1. Wow, what an experience you had . My heart was racing while I was reading. I will be keeping you in my prayers...We are carrying your burden with you through prayer!

  2. So sorry you had those terrible experiences, especially so close together!


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