END IN SIGHT?………..
Since February, life has been hectic with the usual spate of attempted robberies, but by the Lords grace we haven’t lost much. It’s very sad to witness the amount of thieving especially from those who come to stay with us saying that they want to be taught the gospel. I guess times are so bad now people will try anything and obviously ‘third world’ Africa is even more desperate. Sadly, one of those we had been teaching for over eight months left on a sour note. We discovered afterwards that he really only wanted us to pay for his education and had managed to deceive us for that whole time. Well, the Lord knows and we have been enriched by the experience.
Kathy, the Kids and I left for a short break to Zim at the beginning of April. We had planned to go for three weeks and had left the mission in the capable hands of Andy and Sue. We were a bit concerned because they never had transport, but having had that experience ourselves for six months and learned a great deal, we weren’t too concerned as we would only be away three weeks.
Our funds were extremely low – in fact we didn’t have enough for the journey. We received a message that the headmaster and his teachers from the school where Theresa-Anne has been helping would like to come and visit us before we leave for Zimbabwe.
The visit was really amazing as they all squashed into our little lounge area. The headmaster spoke about this ‘little white haired ‘mzungu’ who had helped so many children with their English studies and how to find their way to the Lord. He said they were very grateful to the Lord for sending Theresa-Anne and thanked Kathy and I as parents for trusting them and allowing Theresa-Anne to go there. They presented TA with a gift wrapped in a cloth. When she opened it later it was K220.00 – exactly enough for us to get to the Zimbabwe border!!!
Well, well, well. The Combi broke down just before the Mozambique border and we were set for a repeat of the previous year’s journey. My Mom was with us again (as if she hadn’t learnt the last year!!), and we decided to plod on somehow.
Eventually, to cut a long story short, we were helped by a couple who live in Malawi. Their towrope snapped and they were forced to leave us just before the Zim border. We were so grateful for their help as it cost them a whole days journey (and a tow rope!!).
Two men from Zim who were on their way back from Cahora Bassa Dam towed us into Zim with a piece of seat belt less than a meter long!! Both had been drinking beer their whole journey so it was a very hair raising trip to say the least. The Combi breaking system doesn’t work well when the engine is turned off – we spent the last part of the journey praying like we had never prayed before – at 120km per hour!
All was well and we slept the night at a filling station. The next day we plodded on slowly until Kathy’s parents came to the rescue again.
The Combi was again sent down to Johannesburg, South Africa, for repairs. Some weeks later, Theresa-Anne and I journeyed to Johannesburg to collect it while the rest of the family stayed on the farm with Kathy’s parents. Unfortunately it wasn’t yet ready. Just to help things along I got a bout of Malaria while waiting in Johannesburg.
The friend that I was staying with took me to a hospital in Johannesburg. I explained to the Doctor on duty that I had come from a Malaria area and that in Malawi we were able to get medicine from their local supermarkets, which was a course of tablets we could take for three days. He simply laughed and said, “who’s the Doctor here?”. I was given aspirin and told to go to bed!!
As the Malaria worsened, I asked my friend to take me to another Hospital where they diagnosed Malaria and gave me the treatment.
Theresa-Anne needed to write her ‘O’ level exams in Lilongwe but there was no way I was able to undertake that journey in my condition. The Lord was good and we were able to set up for her to write in Zimbabwe at the British Consulate. Leaving the almost completed Combi in Johannesburg, back we went to Zimbabwe on a bus and she wrote the exams.
After that, we both again returned to Jo’burg to collect the Combi. Once again the Lord undertook for us and the brother that had previously repaired and paid for the Combi, once again repeated the blessing for us. After final repairs were made, we journeyed back to Zimbabwe to join the rest of the family.
Just outside Harare the fan belt broke and the engine overheated (Oh Lord – how many more times!!).
The Combi came to rest at the entrance to a farm and I went in to seek help. A very precious couple who farmed in the area helped us with a fan belt, but by that time, Kathy’s parents had dispatched help for us from the Farm.
While waiting on the side of the road, some men arrived and tried to distract my attention. While they were busy, one of their group spiked the back tyre. They tried to open the sliding door. When we realised they were trying to steal from us, I drove off in a hurry. It’s then that I felt the flat tyre. We stopped at the first garage to ask for help. While I was at the office, the thieves arrived following us in their car. Theresa-Anne was screaming but I couldn’t hear because the Combi windows were closed. When I saw what was going on, I ran out with the wheel spanner in my hand. I’m afraid my ‘missionary cap’ came off as ran towards them. The gospel was the last thing I was going to give them!! Well, thank the Lord, they took off without any further incident and I drove the combi into town with the flat wheel to the safety of a large hotel.
That was the last straw as far as the Combi was concerned.
As we sat on the farm, we were then seriously challenged as to whether or not it was the Lords will for us to go back to Malawi. Originally planning to be away from the group for 3 weeks, 5 months had passed!
In those five months, the mission in Malawi continued as if we hadn’t been away. During Kathy and my prayer times, we began to sense the Lord was saying that our time there was now complete and we should go back to Joburg and wait on Him for the next season. Those we had worked with over this period of time should now be ‘set free’ to continue sharing the gospel with others as the Lord led them.
The final confirmation came in a prayer time where the Lord showed us that if we were to stay with the Malawi brothers any longer they would begin to find their security in us, rather than the Lord. They needed to take all they had been taught, and start making disciples.
Still beset by further vehicle problems, we eventually got back to Malawi, using one of Kathy’s Dads pickups. To us, this was a further indication that the Malawi season of time was drawing to a close. We had not lost our peace during these latest vehicle challenges but we could feel that overcoming them appeared to be getting more and more difficult – was our Father’s hand of blessing starting to lift off our circumstance? Was He telling us to move on to a new season?
By Gods grace, Andy and Sue and the young men had done a marvelous job during the time we had been away. Teaching was still going strong and the little shop managed to survive, so the work stood the test of five ‘Malawi’ months.
Meantime, Zimbabwe customs went on strike and we were unable to get a permit for the Combi to stay on the farm for an extended time. This meant we would only be able to afford a very quick trip back to the mission in Lilongwe before getting back to Zimbabwe to prevent the Combi being confiscated. Hence a swift journey out of Malawi to save the ailing Combi. At that point we felt the Lord was definitely showing us it was time to close off our part of the Malawi work.
“…time withe Master…” is an on-going series of teachings, about lifestyle in the Church and is published bi-monthly.
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