It's been an adventurous weekend, and that's putting it mildly. After a fantastic English camp (I stayed home with my youngest, while our two oldest attended the camp) Scott needed another car and driver to help get the team back to South Africa and the airport, so we packed up the whole family and left for South Africa for the weekend so they could catch their flight. I was looking forward to a day at Kruger, plus some extra time for our family to spend with the team before they left.
But as we've come to learn, things rarely go exactly as planned.
We set off in a three car convoy with sixteen people early Saturday morning. About forty kilometers down the road, Car #1 had a flat. We pull off the road, and with an audience changed the tire, ensured that everyone's tires were aired up, and hit the road again.
A few minutes later, Car #2 heard a hissing sound like leaking air and pulled over. Sure enough, one of the tires was leaking air through the valve stem that had somehow got stuck open when they added air to the tire. After fixing the problem, we headed out again.
Finding out about the leak turned out to actually be a miracle, because while we wondered how they could have heard the air leaking from the tire, we soon found out that the noise they'd heard hadn't actually been the tire. It was Car #3 losing its exhaust pipe. (Excuse the lack of mechanical details for this story.)
As noise got louder, we stopped in the middle of nowhere at a small town with a mechanic on the side of the road. Here they found out that a bolt had fallen off, so after a couple hours, they managed to temporarily fix the problem (thankfully car #3 was to go in for service on Monday anyway) and we headed off again.
Except this time as we started off, Car #3 lost all acceleration.
We all headed back to the mechanic, did a lot of praying, and made a decision to continue on. By this time we were about halfway between home and the border and knew that we had to get the car to our mechanic in South Africa, so there was no use turing back. Unable to fix the problem, Car #3 was able to manage about 60 kilometers an hour as we plugged down the narrow road toward the capital.
By now we were hours behind schedule and hopes of getting across the border before dark were quickly disapearing as we tried to determine plan B.
Another hour or so later and the airconditioner and radio went out as the car limped down the road with its loud clacking noise. It finally died, which meant the next step was to tow it. We got out the tow straps, hooked it up to Car #2 and with no other option continued toward the capital.
By the time we got close to the capital it was dark and we knew we'd never make it across the border driving as slow as we were. Plan C (or was it D or E?) was finally decided upon and with the help of some friends in the capital, we stopped at the airport and rented a car as Car #3 was now completely dead.
At this point, our typically 7 hour drive had turned into about 14 hours and we still weren't across the border that we'd been told closed at 10. It was already nine and with another hour of driving left, we skipped buying any dinner and booked it toward the border.
The whole time I watched the clock. I asked Scott what the plan was if the border closed before we got there, but his answer of sleeping at the border in the cars was not apart of my plan.
Praise God, due to FIFA, the border doesn't close at night this month, so even though we made it there just past ten, we were able to cross. And, there was one small grocery store still open, giving us a chance to buy a few sandwiches before we drove the last thirty minutes to where we were supposed to spend the night--after 18 1/2 hours of driving!
Tonight, we're exhausted, but safe at a missionary guest house while our team is flying back to the States. And while there have definitely been some very difficult things happen over the past week, God is transforming lives and moving among His people!
And that's what it's all about!
I'll be posting more photos and videos of the camp later this week and share some snapshots of what God is doing. Please keep us in your prayers as we drive home tomorrow and for the Sugarcreek Team as they fly back to Houston!
Be blessed today!