Life is precious, we all 'know' that to be true, but do we know it in heart as well as mind?
Somewhere well into a journey to Lusaka last week, the engine in our ancient X-Trail failed. We coasted to a stop, managed to push the car off onto the verge and checked the engine. The radiator had leaked, the engine had overheated, the head gasket had blown and there was no way of starting the car again.
I called Francis and described the problem. Sometime later He phoned back and assured me that a rescue operation was underway.
It was excruciatingly hot, and we had only a limited water supply. By the time the rescue team arrived we were hot, thirsty and not a little hungry. We were glad to hitch the X-Trail to the ancient mini-bus known as 'The White Flash' complete with Mr. Manda, the diocesan driver and James, the Seminary driver.
Lyn and I travelled in 'The Flash', while James steered the X-Trail under tow.
The journey had its own adventures. Occasionally the tow-bar would come loose and we had to stop and re-tie it. We managed to work our way through a very busy toll plaza by going the wrong way through one of the toll lanes. A brief confrontation with an on-coming truck trying to go the right way through the same lane was resolved in our favour by a helpful police officer.
Well after dark we reached Ndola, where we stopped at a shopping centre for much needed rations and a toilet break. Water, pizza and sausage rolls bought we moved on again.
We took the dual carriage-way between Ndola and Kitwe, recently resurfaced by the ubiquitous Chinese contractors. This is where things were about to go seriously wrong. Rolling down a long steep hill the X-Trail over-ran the tow and the bar banged hard into the rear of the mini-bus at an angle. The bus slewed around, spinning in a full 180-degree arc, its trajectory taking it off the paved road and toppling gracefully into the ditch to land on its right-hand side facing the wrong way up the road.
The crunching and grinding ended in confused silence while I worked out that I was still alive, hanging in the straps of the seatbelt some meter or so off the ground. I knew that there were no seatbelts in the back and turned calling out in panic for Lyn, just as she started calling out for me. “I am ok” she said. I managed to look, there she was, still moving, legs and arms more or less in the right places. The driver also responded. Surprisingly we were all alive and in one piece.
We climbed out through the passenger-side window, assisted by a small crowd of locals and passing drivers. Equally surprisingly James was also alive and well, and the X-Trail still on its wheels some 200 meters away. The tow bar had broken free from The Flash and James managed to control the vehicle complete with tow bar flapping around in front of it, despite there being no power, no power steering or hydraulic breaking system and, because the battery was long depleted, no lights.
It took another two hours for a second rescue to arrive, in that time The Flash was righted and pronounced able to move under its own power. The X-Trail was towed home without further incident and we collapsed in bed at about 2am on Friday morning.
I am reminded of the morning collect:
“Almighty God, you have safely brought us to the beginning of another day…”
Lyn and I are thankful for this and every other day. We have that precious gift of life renewed, the X-Trail will be repaired and ride again. For all of that, and your continued prayers for us, especially as we travel Zambia’s decaying roads and cope with the anarchic driving, we are truly grateful.
CMSI's Mission Personnel Manager, Gillian Maganda writes:
“We were shocked to hear about Keith and Lyn's accident, but we praise God that neither they, nor the drivers, were badly injured. Please do continue to pray for safety on the roads for the Scotts in Zambia and the Briggs in Kenya.
"We want to ensure that Keith and Lyn's vehicle is properly repaired and is fit for purpose. If that is something you'd be willing to support, we'd love to hear from you."