February 25, 2005
A Wild Ride
Life is full of ups and downs. You expect them. But yesterday my life felt like an out of control roller coaster.
The day started off well, everyone got off to school and work cheerfully, (which is always something to be grateful for) and I sat down at the computer and worked for a few hours on a big report that I am compiling for Blantyre Synod. Momentum was building. I dashed out to run a few errands downtown. They took longer than I thought and I did not get to complete them all. It was a small bump in the ride.
Then I went to a Bible Study friend’s home for lunch. She had invited us over to her lovely (Italian designed) home for a get together. It was delightful. We savored the potato salad and ginger chicken and just chatted on her veranda overlooking a garden laden with lush bougainvilleas, double hibiscus and fragrant gardenias. We were up at the top of a crest and taking in the view.
Unfortunately, the ride took a huge dive after that. I went downtown to finish my errands, but got caught in a gridlocked traffic jam, behind about 20 minibuses. At one point I inched my car forward and heard a yell. I looked at the side by the tire and a man was there gesturing wildly at his foot. He hopped around the car yelling at me in Chichewa. Now, I am not a fool, and I doubted that I had run over his foot, but he and his friends surrounded my car. I was not about to stop and argue with them, but because of the traffic I could not get away. Then one of the men opened the passenger’s door. I started screaming at him to get out. (I know- I should have had had the doors locked.) Amazingly, he did retreat. (And then I locked the doors!)
But I could not move the car. Even when I honked the horn and inched forward, they would not move. I knew that if I gave them money they would go away, but it made me really angry. I looked around, but there were no police or traffic guards anywhere. I was really getting scared, so I reached into my purse and took out a 500MK bill (about $5), opened my window an inch, and handed it to the “injured” man. He and his buddies immediately shouted for joy and moved away from the truck. I sped out of the intersection. (By this time even the minibuses had disappeared.) I went straight to Dan’s office.
He was in a meeting and Mrs. Banda did not know where, so I went down the hall to Sue Peach’s office. Sue is a World Exchange volunteer from the UK and works in the Finance Department of the Synod. She said, “Beth, why are you shaking?” I told her what had happened and said, “I think that now I am more furious than afraid.” She, being British, offered me tea with her sympathy, but I declined, because I had to go get the girls at school. However, she told me that she had been “scammed” by a minibus driver a few weeks ago. We “azungus” (Europeans) make great targets. I calmed down a bit and coasted for a while.
Brooke thought it would be good for me to swim some laps. It has been unseasonably hot here lately, and we have discovered the Phoenix Primary School’s pool on the Synod grounds. She and I went to the pool and the exercise did feel good. I began my ascent up another hill, to a calmer place. Dan called and after we talked I felt much better. My mood climbed a bit more.
When we got back home, I decided to check our email. There was a lovely letter there from a good friend of ours at Trans World Radio. She said that our family would be in their prayers this weekend, because it is a year since my 41 year old sister, Martha, (who, with her husband and daughters, was a missionary with TWR for 18 years) died suddenly of a blood clot to the brain. I dissolved in tears. The roller coaster took a dive into a deep abyss. But from the bottom there is nowhere to go but up, and Brooke reminded me, “Mom, she is in heaven.”
Then Dan called and said that we would be having an overnight guest, Dr. Roland van de Ven, the Medical Director at Mulanje Mission Hospital, was having difficulties with his car and would be spending the night in Blantyre. So I got busy tidying up the house and guest room. Work always makes you feel better anyway.
A family from St. James CCAP Church had invited us over for dinner. The girls couldn’t go with us, Heather had a lot of homework and Brooke had to study for a huge biology test, so we took Roland and went.
The ride went nowhere but up for the rest of the evening. George and Martha welcomed us warmly and showed us gracious Malawian hospitality. Martha had prepared two delicious stews, beef and chicken, both with mushrooms that they grew themselves. We stayed and enjoyed their company and conversation for a few hours. George told us that he has devotions for an hour each morning before he jogs. He is a man who lives his faith. It reminded me of why we came to Malawi.
So my wild ride ended on a high note. Who knows what today’s ride will be like, but yesterday I was reminded to hang on. God is in control and cares for us. God is beside us even when we forget that fact. I admit that I was not praying or thinking of God when I was caught in that intersection, but I know that there are lots of people praying faithfully for the Merry Mission to Malawi on a daily basis, and I like to think that their (your) prayers helped me!
I guess that I will never understand why certain things happen, but bit by bit (sometimes kicking and screaming) I am learning to turn everything over to our omnipotent God. The next time I go for a ride, I will try and remember who is beside me.