Tag Archives: missions

Shaka Muchembeli in the Land of the Smoke that Thunders.

Chapter 4: God Knows

“There is a way which seemeth right unto a man……..Proverbs 14:12

Living in the rural South, directions could get downright aggravating or hilarious – depending on which way you looked at them. Jack and I both had this problem before coming to the mission field when he was a photographer for Olan Mills, and I was a Hospice nurse moving from home to home in the community. Jack even had a direction printed one day that told him to travel so many miles and he would come to a fence with a brown cow, and was to turn right there. Now what happens if Ol’ Betsy decided she didn’t want to be standing in that particular corner one day, and it IS rural America so looking for a road sign isn’t going to get you anywhere. I don’t think that’s the person I want to be printing my directions! Same problem with Hospice. If you were the admitting nurse, you were required to place directions in the computer for the rest of the team after you had made the first visit. That requires you to mark mileage, but most of all, to know your right hand from your left hand. Many times I have driven in circles in the middle of nowhere because I should have turned right instead of left. It got so bad that if one particular nurse put the directions in the computer, you automatically turned the other way!

Now as well as knowing where Farmer Joe’s cow pasture is, you have to understand local nomenclature, like “over yonder” and “down there a bit”. Well let me tell you friend, it’s the same the world over.

We were headed for a village about 25km off the tarmac. It’s dry season. That path, because in no man’s dictionary can you call it a road, that is normally hard and will support the weight of your vehicle has now become the perpetual cloud that is around Pigpen (Charlie Brown) because there has been no rain for months! The drifts of sand are feet deep, but if you can manage to keep your wheels “right there” you’ll be OK. Having never gone to this village, and needing to take more people with us than could travel in our Rocky (which is 4 wheel drive and pulls out of anything, even 3 feet deep cow poop (yep, been there), someone suggested using Mum Linda’s car which is NOT 4 wheel drive and meant for town. We were a bit concerned and asked, are you sure her car can travel over the road to that village? But they all assured us there would be no problem. So off we go. Jack is driving Linda’s car, and I am driving ours leading the way. Brother Kenneth is with me, and two others are with Jack. I am not even sure of how far we got before we heard the horn behind us – Jack was stuck. So out pour all the men, dig the car out, and we’re back on our way. 10 minutes later we hear the horn again. Same scenario, dig out the car, but Jack asks Kenneth “how much farther?” Kenneth points and says “it’s just there”. Now let me give you a little insight into Jack. When he’s going somewhere he isn’t familiar with, he is old enough to prefer a topo map instead of the GPS. He was loads of fun on deputation when we had to criss-cross the States and we’d end up in the middle of someone’s farm. Anyway, we’re all back in the car, and you guessed it – honk, honk! Jack is really not happy now as this is the third time that car has sank into the sand. So after digging it out again, Jack demands to know how far it is to the village. Kenneth replies “Brother, it is just there”. After we were all back in the cars I told Kenneth , if this happens again don’t tell him it’s just there, tell him 5 more minutes (explaining to him traveling with children in the States). I almost prayed that we’d get stuck just one more time so Kenneth could say 5 more minutes. Honk, honk! After the “process” Kenneth and I are already back in the car when Jack walks up to the window and tells Kenneth he wants to know how much farther and that he doesn’t want to hear it’s just there. So Kenneth looks at Jack and says “just 5 more minutes Brother”. Jack turns and is walking back to the car when he suddenly stops, whirls around, takes off his hat and scowls at us as he knows hes been had. Kenneth and I laughed the rest of the way to the village. No, there was no more digging out for the rest of the way in, and none going back out. These guys walk everywhere, so it is always “just there”!

We’ve had many colorful trips into the bush; traveling along dry stream beds as there is no road, using a footpath as our road, or just making our own road when we knew the general direction but no other way to get there. The fun is having to stop for herds of roaming cows or goats to clear the path, or at times even to yield to elephants (I can assure you they always have the right of way). But sometimes travel into the compound or markets that surround the towns can be a real adventure. We had a breakdown of the fridge, and a friend gave me the name of a good repairman. Now here, when you need a repairman, you have to keep two things in mind. One, he never has his own tools. Two, he never has his own transport, which means you have to go get him. I really need the fridge going again, so I call this guy and he can come the next morning. I ask him for directions, and he says “pick me at God knows”, and hangs up. I think I even just looked at the phone. What do you mean pick you at God knows?! I’m sure God knows, but I DON”T! I tried calling him back, but no answer. I finally found one of the guys that helps and told him about my crazy conversation, and that I’m frustrated over the fridge, and someone giving me idiotic directions. He laughs and says, “no Mum, God Knows is the name of a shop in Dambwa North. I’ll take you and show you.” Now I know where is God Knows.

While our directions may seem confusing, or downright idiotic, God’s directions are always clear and have a purpose if we can give him 5 more minutes.