Chapter 4

Written Friday, February 13, 2009

Six months into our stay in Zambia, one of the missionaries received a telegram that I had sent from Mombasa, informing them of our intended journey to Zambia. Now that is one for the Guinness Book of Records!
My old faithful pickup was in bad shape, and a friend said he could get rid of it in the Congo since it was left hand drive.
Someone had a small motorcycle and he wanted to sell it. It needed some welding done on it, so I said I would weld it. I was prepared just incase it might catch fire. It did! Guess who bought it? I repaired it and it served me well for some time.
I had been helping to build a hospital some one hundred and thirty miles away, and there was a lady nurse there who wanted to sell a Land Rover. And she had it pushed by some Africans for several miles to get it home to her place. I said I would like to buy it, so now I needed to get it running.

Fixing a flat tire on the old Landrover

I stripped the radiator out and dismantled the front of the engine and after studying some timing marks on the timing chain belt. I discovered that it had jumped it’s timing by 180 degrees. After putting it right, I thought I would try it. It started up without a problem. I re-assembled it and then drove it to Kalene It also had four broken spring leaves, one in each spring. After removing all the springs and replacing all the broken leaves, I now had a good vehicle.

Marie and I were asked if we could spend the week there in the home of two nurses where I had bought the car, while they went to town for rest and supplies, (I had been working on that Hospital anyway, so it was quite convenient for us to do so.)
In the absence of those nurses, we sat in the house in the evening and it was pouring rain. About, nine o-clock, two men appeared at the door with a storm lantern. I opened the door to reveal two soaked men with a sad story to tell.
They spoke enough English to let us know that there was a woman who had been in labor for three days and needed help. I always kept the car full of gas, and I agreed to go and get her. (The hospital, which I was helping to build, was not yet operating, and the two nurses were miles away).
The rain continued to pour down and the roads were in bad shape. The sick lady was about eight miles further into the bush. Marie remained alone in the house.
As we made our way along the road, it became more difficult to see. I suggested that one of the men get out of the car and sit on the spare tire which was located on the hood (bonnet). He would point which way to turn, and we came to a bridge, which was about six inches under fast flowing water.
I ventured the front wheels unto the bridge and all seemed safe, so I drove the car over without incident. The grass was so tall, that I could not see and could only depend on the guy sitting on the hood to direct me.
Finely, the lights of the car revealed a small brick building, about twelve feet square. I entered inside and one wall had many shelves lined with empty bottles. Perhaps from Colonial times, and on the floor lay a tiny woman, naked except for a leso (a piece of cotton about five feet square). Her husband, also very small in stature, sat on the cold cement floor beside her. The feeling of utter hopelessness came over me. What could I do to help this poverty stricken man and his helpless wife? The man was also naked, but for a similar bit of cloth. Neither of them had ever been in any vehicle before.
I picked her up and placed her on the rear seat of the Land Rover, and commenced the unforgettable journey to Kalene Hospital, one hundred and thirty five miles away with torrential rain and muddy road. The husband was so frightened, that he could do nothing for his ailing wife. He clung to the seat and said nothing.
The two men who had been with me, disappeared into the night and I was on my own with the two helpless souls.
Some twenty miles along the road, a red light appeared on the dash, I knew that it was the Generator light. I grabbed a tire iron, and lifted the hood and tapped on the generator, and was thankful to the Gracious Lord that it started working again. This I had to do several times, the rest of the way to the Hospital.
Things went as well as could be expected until we reached the main road. Hugh heavy trucks had formed deep tracks in the road and I tried to keep the wheels of the Land Rover between the deep tracks, sometimes the rear wheels of the Land Rover would slide in and crawl sideways until the wheels would grip and bounce up from the deep tracks, and the poor suffering soul would fall off the seat, and I would have to stop to get her back on the seat again. The husband was so afraid, that he was totally stiff and useless!
I arrived at the hospital, about six o’clock in the morning, and I lifted the lady unto a stretcher and left her in the hands of the doctors. I went to have breakfast with some friends, and while I was having breakfast, some one knocked on the door and informed me that the lady had died. I felt heartbroken to say the least. Why had I brought her so much trauma and pain only to loose her in the end?
The lady was buried somewhere at Kalene, and the husband and I, started the return journey to the bush where he lived. The rain had ceased, and the road was somewhat better. After several hours, we neared his village. Suddenly, he motioned to me to stop. He jumped out of the vehicle and disappeared into the bush.
In the Lunda tribe, they believed that if someone had died, it was the result of someone else “eating” the dead person’s life. The husband knew that if he returned to his family, he would be blamed for her death. A Witch Doctor would be called to determine who the culprit was. This corrupt heathen practice was common, and many people were beaten or killed at the word of the Witch Doctor, hence the sudden disappearance of the husband. I had been warned that this might happen, but there was little I could do.
To be continued.