Humbled By The Mud

My Sunday pancake breakfast was awesome!  I joined the members of the Deanville mission church for their rockin’ African singin’ and swayin’ service.  There were about 50 people there but the singing made it sound like 100.  Sumo, the evangelist, offered an impassioned plea to his membership during announcements regarding their “duty and obligation” to participate in brushing the school land.  This coming Saturday there will be a contingent of at least 5 people from several other parishes and he suggested that everyone (not just 5) should be there. I was invited to speak as is customary with guests.  I reiterated my sense of family being among them and how impressed I was with the joy they express in their singing.  After service I spoke with one of the women that I’ve been getting to know at the work site, Sony (not sure of the spelling but that’s how it sounds).  She’s been working both as a paid day laborer hauling crushed rock and as one of the many women volunteers doing the brushing.  She is also in charge of cooking for the volunteers, so I wanted to go directly to her to give money towards rice for Saturday’s brushing blitz.  She started dancing and smiling which made me happy but gave the impression that she never saw any of the previous food money I gave to Sumo.

I did some sweeping and bathroom cleaning today to get rid of the latest crop of spider webs then took my Sunday siesta in the hammock on the porch. I ate leftover La Choy chow mein (sans crunchy noodles) then thought I would drive over to visit my friends at the fistula project.  I’ve been looking for basic nail pouches for the workers to use this week while constructing the wooden trusses but none of the hardware stores carry them (except for the more expensive belts with multiple tool-holding pouches).  Since the girls/women at the fistula project have a sewing vocational training class, I thought I could hire them to make a dozen simple pouches for me.  On my way down the dirt road leading to their compound on the opposite side of Phebe, I managed to get pretty well stuck in the mud.  I had hugged the right side of the road as I approached a puddle but the truck just slipped to the left into a puddle with very soft mud…it was almost 6:00pm.  I revved the engine forward, then reverse, forward, then reverse…no luck.  I was listing like the cruise ship Sea Diamond on a reef in the Mediterranean.

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I abandoned my baby FOTON to seek help at the homes I passed about 100 yards back.  The man there called some helpers who appeared in about 5 minutes from the opposite direction carrying large sticks and a shovel.  I also sheepishly called my driver, Saah (I promise to never drive on dirt roads without Saah. I promise to never drive on dirt roads without Saah.  I promise never to drive on dirt roads without Saah…oops my chalk broke).  We worked together for about 1/2 hour without success so a Jeep was summoned.  Unfortunately the only tow rope available was some small nylon rope from a tarp that Saah had used to cover our belongings last week.  This broke very quickly and the Jeep departed to get a tow cable. It started to rain and my three rescuers fled the scene leaving Saah and I to make some fruitless attempts.

Two passersby stopped and the very large “refrigerator” of a man said it would be no problem to move this light truck.  He came back in a change of clothes and some high boots at which point my other helpers had returned.  Various strategies of pushing and rocking the vehicle, prying the driver’s side up with wooden poles, jacking and propping were used without success…it’s now 8:30pm, dark, and lightning is flashing in the distance.  As I stepped in the mud I kept thinking of the cable TV show “Monsters Inside Me” that IMG_3697chronicles strange illnesses and parasites that people get (I would never choose this show but thanks to Kathy’s morbid interest in strange medical issues I’ve been forced to sit through a few episodes).  I imagined “mud worms” boring through my sandals into the sole of my feet, plotting to colonize my body by sunrise.  This motivated me to contact Sam to come with his Jeep and tow chain which had previously been successful in extricating the little Nissan from our past trip in the bush but he never answered his phone.  The decision was made to abandon ship and try in the morning light, hoping Sam would come through.

By the way, the Jeep with the tow cable never returned.  Africa is a tough place to work in!

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