Mission Malawi – Chapter Eleven

Why not start at the beginning of this amazing series……..

South Africa
26th January 1995 – 29th May 1995

We had planned a break to S.A. and Zimbabwe for six weeks, during January 1995, so we were quite amazed when it turned out to be so long. In our last newsletter we shared about the challenges with the Combi and how wonderful it was to see the various parts arriving from South Africa to try and get us on the road.
“….We finally left for Zimbabwe on 26th Jan. On nearing the border of Mozambique (after finally getting visas, which is another whole story!), the power in the Combi began to fade. There was a terrible feeling in my stomach. As the situation worsened, I was freewheeling the down hills to try and make it to the Zimbabwe border where Kathy’s parents had offered to meet us.

They normally wouldn’t do that but had both been individually led to come in view of the previous engine problems. About 150kms from the Zimbabwe side (still in Mozambique), the engine blew completely. What a place to break down!! Those who have been into Mozambique know what we mean. It is a beautiful country for wildlife conservationists and survival experts, certainly not inexperienced missionaries with small kids and our precious mother (who at 76 braved a visit to us earlier in the year). The place was desolate with no sign of human life, not to mention the intense heat and absolute lack of water.
As I looked into the rear view mirror, I saw a vehicle transporter approaching. “Could this be?”, I thought. On a Sunday, at 12 noon in the outback of Mozambique, a vehicle transporter with a South African registration – carrying nothing!! Just in case we had doubted Gods existence throughout our year in Malawi, now there was no question.

Within an hour and a half, the Combi and trailer were secured on the back of the truck. So with Kathy, myself and the kids on the back of the truck (in the open, it was a bit hot but what a way to see Mozambique!!), and my Mom safely in the Cab with the drivers girlfriend accompanied by blasting ‘African music’, we were on our way to the Zimbabwe border.

Obviously now delayed, we thought Kathy’s folks would have left thinking they had missed us. By the Lords grace they were still there and had only arrived 15 mins before us (another coincidence??).

The Zimbabwean authorities refused us entry because of the fact that the Combi was broken and they felt they may end up as surety for the repairs.

After begging them, to the sound of much sniggering from the surrounding audience, they allowed us in. Kathy’s parents took my Mom and all the kids as well as Kathy and went to the farm. I stayed with the Combi and truck to take it all the way to Harare.

The driver bought me a coke, most welcome at that time, which I enjoyed on the trailer of the truck. The driver didn’t believe in the Lord and so I had a wonderful time for the next five hours sharing with him. As we neared our destination, now about 7:30pm, I decided to look for the Combi keys. Well, they were nowhere to be found. Not in the truck, not in my pockets or in my briefcase.

It was all a bit much for me when I came to realize that I had left them on the trailer where I had enjoyed my coke 5 hours before. Due to the slope of the trailer (to allow vehicles up), they would have slipped down when we started our journey. I just prayed. I think out of the whole year in Malawi this was the most heartfelt prayer that I had prayed. As the tears began to roll down my cheeks I said “Lord, this is the end of the road for me. Forgive me for failing, but I just can’t go on any more. You see our situation, perhaps you might help one more time?”

The driver, thinking I was completely insane, decided to stop and check if the Combi was still O.K. I thought that I might just go and see the rear of the trailer. I discovered a small trough at the back, used to hook the ramps in. There, in the left hand corner of the trough, swinging by the remote control, were the keys!!

I was really excited. The driver came to see what all the dancing was about and stopped dead in his tracks when he saw the keys…”Ah Ah Ah…this Jesus must love you!!”. He suddenly became a believer!!

Anyway, we off loaded the Combi in Harare, where it was diagnosed, “Useless”. We were able to contact the same transport company who then offered to take the Combi all the way to Jhb – free of charge. In Jhb, it received a new reconditioned engine plus many other parts and accessories.

Once again, the Lord touched the heart of a very precious brother in the Lord who helped to sort all these things out. We had only met him once before when we originally left for Malawi.

The list of names is a bit long to mention and we know that the people whom the Lord used to help us would not like to take recognition in this way, but Kathy and I were so blessed and grateful for all the help, I think we have said this before, but the work goes on here because of the obedience of faithful brothers and sisters and we pray the Lords blessing on each one.

Our time in S.A. and Zimbabwe was a great blessing. It was just sad that we weren’t able to see all, but not being regularly supported by a church or organization, we could only move as and when the Lord provided. We were so well fed and now really need the Malawi heat and diet to shed a few Kgs., (or quite a few in some cases!!). We were able to give people a better idea of how and where we live, also to explain how the ministry work operates.

On our return journey, all went well apart from the Zimbabwe customs confiscating our trailer which we had left behind while in S.A. It was eventually released back to us at a cost of Z$680 (R340)! What can we say?….”

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