The Mission Years-Part Two

Sometimes we would park the trailer and van at the church. There was one church that was located in a rough part of town. I remember walking around the church praying before retiring for the night, I could feel some bad vibes in the air. Around 2 a.m. I was awakened from sleep by a noise. It sounded like someone messing with the hitch on the trailer. I started praying as I made my way to a window to see what was going on outside. I didn’t see anything or anyone, so I go back to bed. This went on every couple of hours throughout the night. I would get up and check things out but never saw anything. The next morning I walked around the van and trailer without finding anything amiss. I know that I heard something, but what?

One time we got lost in a large city in the middle of the night. I would stop and ask for directions at gas stations, but we still couldn’t find our way. I was tired, so we found a parking lot by an old warehouse. I pulled Fred and Abigail underneath a light, locked everything up and crashed in bed. I awoke a hour later with a total bad feeling that there was something bad about to happen. I woke the family up and we all made a dash for Fred and got out of there in a hurry. I wasn’t sleepy anymore.

We had left the kids with the grandparents while we held some services in Kentucky. There had been a snowstorm the night before we were to head back home. We were driving along I-65 just North of Elizabethtown when we hit a patch of black ice. The van did a 360 in the middle of the freeway. All I could do was to pray “In Jesus Name!”, and ride it out. I had no control of the van. As soon as I had finished saying, “In Jesus Name!”, the van came out of the 360 was ‘lifted’ up into the air and was placed down in the median packed with snow. It was just picked up and placed down in the median, and it was headed back toward Elizabethtown! We just sat there praying and thanking God for His angels protecting us. When our nerves settled down, I put it drive and pulled right out of that snow bank without any problems. We got off at the next exit for Elizabethtown and got a motel room for the night!

Outside of these three times, the thousands of miles covered for these six months were without incident. We even made a trip with the van on a ferry from New Brunswick to Nova Scotia with the boat breaking the ice as it went along. I remember walking the deck with G checking on the van and looking over the side of the ferry at the broken chunks of ice. That was both fascinating and scary at the same time. To think that the captain of the ferry does this five days a week all winter long. I trust that he made good money.

I learned to appreciate the small churches. They were friendlier and gave larger offerings overall. The larger churches seemed to be more formal and ‘ho hum’, we have had missionaries before, while the smaller ones were always happy to see new faces. Jesus said the rich gave out of their abundance, but the poor widow gave her living. There were, of course, the exceptions, but overall the smaller groups outdid the bigger ones all around.

One of the bigger disappointments with large churches was with my home church. These people knew me from when I first found the Lord and were always loving and receptive whenever I visited while I was home visiting the folks. I gave my message to a very receptive congregation and the offering plate was passed for the missionary. Normally the pastor gives me my offering right after the service, but not this time. He informed me that they hadn’t had time to count the offering, but he would mail me a check the next day. I thought this was odd. I have never seen a pastor who didn’t have the money counted immediately after the offering. This was what the head ushers did. There were strict procedures in place to make sure everyone stayed without suspicion. I told him this would be fine. He didn’t even take us out to eat after service, which is the custom with visiting preachers. I must not have been a visitor since it was my home church? hmm…

I get his check a few days later. When I opened it I couldn’t believe that it was just one-hundred dollars. There was a group of several hundred in the meeting. This was my home church and everyone had watched me grow from baptism to missionary. It didn’t make sense. I later learned that there were several pastors with the habit of telling the congregation that the offering was for one purpose, and afterwards they would divide it up for several projects. I missed out on all of this higher-church-finance-training, as I had always been involved with smaller congregations!

I tucked this experience down inside with all the previous ones. It is becoming quite a bundle now. Chichewa has a proverb, “Pongono Pongono Ndi Mtolo” which means ‘little by little makes a bundle’. It refers to the women gathering sticks of wood for their cooking fires. Many times they walked several miles picking up a stick here and a stick there, until they had a bundle which could weigh up to fifty pounds. They would carry this bundle on top of their heads all the way back to their village.

I am beginning to see why the preacher had prayed over me when he saw a ‘cloud’ over my head. The cloud should be pretty dark by now.

We were surprised to find that the wife is pregnant with our third child, another son. This slows things down a little, as we have to wait for N to be born and then to be old enough to be able to travel to Africa. The wife has complications with her sugar and has to start taking insulin injections. It had showed up before with T and G, but only during the pregnancy, and then it went back to normal. This time it was worse and didn’t go away. So we have to wait a season to make sure she is regulated with her insulin dosage.

I remember having to call the squad for N one night for something to do with his breathing. His Mom rode with him in the back of the squad and I followed in the van. Everything turned out all right and we returned home. Another couple of months and the wife’s sugar balanced out with her insulin, and we received permission to book the flight for overseas.

We made the doctor appointments to secure all the shots for the family, and to start taking the anti-malaria tablets. Then we made a trip to Washington to secure the necessary papers for getting into an African country. We had already crated the supplies, so we called the shipper to pick them up, and then the travel agent to purchase the tickets. Things were finally in place. N was 8 days old when he got his first passport photo and 8 weeks old when he boarded the big plane for Africa. T was 11 and G was 8.

freight ship

Part Three of Mission Years, click here…

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