Monday, January 19, 2009

the end of the trip

Well, it was a longer break than I expected, but here I am.

After five conference days of more food than we needed at each meal and many opportunities to reconnect with friends one-on-one, it was Saturday morning and time to retrace our trip back north.

The South African border was a breeze this time: leaving is much easier than getting in. The border official told us to "have a nice flight." The atmosphere changed radically on the Zim side of the border: the lines were listless. Many desks were empty and we were shuffled from line to line, regardless of the sign above the person's head. Once through we hit the road and we were stopped at even more police checks going north than we had been coming south. We didn't count, but I would guess around 20 police road blocks, just to check our vehicle import permit, driver's license, etc. They can get picky enough to match your engine numbers with the ones on you car papers, but we weren't subjected to such scrutiny. Why? They are hungry and they want something: nearly all asked what we had brought them from SA.

We spent the night near the border with friends, Les and Doreen, who willingly open their home to traveling missionaries. They were a blessing and their pool was refreshing after a hot day in the car.

Sunday we started home after daybreak. No trouble through the borders, no trouble in fact, until about 150 km from home: then we hit the MotherLode potholes. There were lots of potholes that day and we missed all but two of them. But those two in quick succession blew out our two right tires. See the photo in the post below. Fortunately we were within cell phone coverage (most of that road isn't)l and we called for help. Good friend Brian came out with son Philip and our son Luke with a second spare tire. Phil had already changed the first. Then continuing on home, another pothole did in a third tire. So began the long and tiresome attempt to find a place to fix one of the flat ones: all 3 rims were bent, however, We ended up going back to Q, getting another spare from our friend who lent the first one, and hauling it back out again.

I stayed in town with Bell and enjoyed dinner at Hilton's house while the guys went back out on their errand of mercy. Friends are indispensable in Africa--something Africans have known for a very long time. As I mentioned, the guys finally got home around midnight. It was strange, being within an hour and a half of home (at 3:30 p.m.) and then not getting home until late.

We were blessed to have cell phone coverage, friends willing to drive literally hundreds of kilometers, a neighbor who lent his car's tires, and plenty of water to drink on that hot and dusty road.

Much to be thankful for. Much indeed. And now we thank Him for rain because this land has been parched while we were gone. The little rice seedlings in our garden withered and dried up. We hope this is not reflective of the whole province. But the rain is blissful. Amen.

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