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07 August, 2014

Safari, Screwdrivers and Mud

We haven’t done much, or maybe nothing, with "Throwback Thursday" (TBT). However, today shall be different. We can thank Eloise Withrow Hockett for this. Her accounting of a recent trip with colleagues into Mt. Elgon National Park in Kenya brought this memory flooding back. We have enjoyed talking about it and laughing. Then we asked ourselves, “Do we still remember the all important lesson? Are we still living it out?”

It was our fifth wedding anniversary. We went with 2 and ½ year-old Elizabeth to visit WGM family of ours living in Kitale, Kenya. We had been living in Kenya for almost a year and had never visited Larry and Joy so that weekend seemed the perfect time.

As we arrived at their house, Larry was out in the garage. He had washed the car, cleaning it inside and out. We had a lovely evening in their home. Joy made a wonderful supper and told Elizabeth, “After supper I will give you some candy corn. This is Halloween night and someone in America sent Aunt Joy and Uncle Larry some candy. We will share it with you!”

We had such a good time together that evening, laughing and sharing together. Elizabeth fell asleep before anyone remembered about candy corn. We all slept through most of the heavy rain in the night.

The next morning we all piled into the car Larry had so nicely cleaned. We carried a packed lunch, binoculars, plenty of bottled water and a few toys to entertain Elizabeth in the car. We were excited for our safari. Larry and Joy told us we might see Colobus monkeys, elephants and a variety of other forest animals.

We arrived at the gate into the park. The officials there greeted us, took down the vital information about our vehicle and its passengers and on in we went. They reminded us we must exit the park through this same gate because every night they checked to see if all vehicles leave the park.

Off we went. We all enjoyed the monkeys and their fun antics when leaping from one tree to another tree. The new-to-us birds, butterflies and flowers were wonderful. We were all having a great time!

Until we got stuck. We were stuck-stuck. The road puddle depth could not be seen and as the vehicle went down the mud grabbed tight and wouldn’t easily let go. Stuck we were. Larry, Jeff and I got out to push while Joy expertly took the driver’s seat. Elizabeth was placed by a bush and told to stand there while we got the car “unstuck.” Joy gunned the accelerator and we pushed…and got splattered with mud. The vehicle finally surged forward, slipping and sliding until Joy “landed” it a short distance away on solid ground.

When we got back in the vehicle Elizabeth was quite frightened. She told us clearly that she did not want to do that again! She did not like seeing all that take place, especially the spinning of the mud from behind the tires. So, when the next time came we got her out of the vehicle and put her behind a bush where she could not see the car but we could see her just fine. That worked well the next couple of times we landed deep in a muddy hole in the road. After each time Elizabeth carefully handed us wet wipes to help us wash up.

Late in the afternoon, as we were making our way through the forest back toward the gate through which we entered the vehicle once again went down and the mud gripped it tight. Larry tried to go forward and back but there was no moving the car. He and Jeff got out to assess the situation and from their exclamations Joy and I could tell it was not good news. The men discovered the car was high-centered on the rise between the two tracks of the road. Ugh!

Larry decided he should get the machete and shovel out of the back of his car. He went around and opened the back of the station wagon. He stood there and was very quiet. Then we heard, “Uh oh. Oh, my.” The other three of we adults looked at each other. Joy called out, “What, Larry?”

Larry came back around the car, shaking his head. “Well,” he said. “I cleaned the car yesterday. I took out the machete and the shovel and stood them in the garage while I thoroughly cleaned everything. I put my tool bag back in, and the car jack, but then the Stanfields arrived and I forgot to go back and put the other things in. I have looked and all I can find to help dig out this mud is two screwdrivers.”

We adults all looked at each other and then burst into laughter. Oh, we laughed so hard! “What an adventure we are having,” we said between laughs. Soon we settled and had prayer together. After a bit more talking a plan emerged and we each went to fulfill our part in the strategy to dislodge the vehicle.

The two men each gripped a screwdriver, got down on their bellies and started chipping away at the mud. I got Elizabeth situated in a clearing behind some very low bushes off the side of the road and gave her a book or two to use. Then Joy and I went searching for large stones we could place under the wheels of the vehicle so they would not just sink down when the men lowered the mud ridge.

And so our time passed. Chipping away at the mud, stones put under the wheels, then more chipping and on went the repetitive cycle interrupted only by we adults gathering together to get a drink of water and to pray together. We could see the sun getting lower. We knew the rule was to be out of the park before dark. We kept at it.

Meanwhile, Elizabeth was playing nicely. We could hear (and watch) her talking and singing while arranging stones and leaves and small fallen branches.

Larry was beginning to feel the stress of the situation. The guys tried to increase their rate of chipping but the mud just would not give way. We ladies kept a steady supply of large stones available. Once again we stopped to pray, acknowledging God’s sovereignty and power. We committed it all to Him.

Soon thereafter, Joy and I paused as the stone pile was more than adequate beside the vehicle. We watched Elizabeth. She had several stones lined up in two nice rows. Branches were at the stones, along with leaves she had arranged. She stood in front of the rows of stones and we listened in.

“Now sit quietly, children. Thank you for coming to our Sunday school. It is now time for prayer, and then we will sing a song or two. Everyone close your eyes and pray.

“Dear God, we are here in this special Sunday school class. We are praying for our missionaries. You know they are stuck in a forest and they need to get out. You be with them. Help them not to get scared. And God, help them get out before they get in darkness. Help them to get home so they can have the candy corn Aunt Joy forgot to give them when she promised it to them. Amen.”

Joy and I looked at each other only to discover we each had tears in our eyes. Then we heard the men exclaim and we saw them grabbing for stones. We hurried to hand them stones to place under the wheels. We told the men the prayer we heard prayed in the Sunday school taking place just off the road. Larry said, “Well, God hears the little children! We prayed several times but when she finished praying the mud gave way. Let’s hurry and get out of here and get her some candy corn!”

Sure enough, within 10 minutes Larry was able to drive the car out of that hole. We cleaned up and quickly reloaded the car. Dusk was turning to darkness! Larry drove as quick as was safe. Even so, it was well after the fall of dark when we arrived at the gate.

The official who came to the car told us, “See that lorry (truck)? We are loading it now to go searching for you. What happened?” Larry told him and the official laughed when he heard the only tools we had were screwdrivers. He then expressed both his sympathy to us and his relief they did not have to out searching.

You can be sure that when we got back to Larry and Joy’s house Elizabeth was well satisfied with candy corn. Before we all headed to bed we prayed and asked the Lord to help us always remember to pray in faith, just like a 2 year old leading Sunday school in a forest.

We have never forgotten. The prayer is still often referenced in our family. Our faith continues to grow.

What life lessons are you hoping never to forget? Has a child ever been the one God used to teach you? We would love to hear your stories!


Joy said...

Tears! What faith. Thank you for sharing.