It was one of those days. My last words to Kristi as I left our apartment were, “I am praying that God would encourage me in some way today.” While at the office, Kristi called me saying, “I have some news, and it is not good. Pastor Manyayi just called. The Land Cruiser is stuck on the way to Tshikaji. The oil panels were not secured and all of the motor oil has spilled onto the ground. They are stuck and need help.” Just the previous day I had gone to get the oil changed and to have the vehicle looked over. Indeed, this was not good news at all.
I called Pastor Manyayi and Tatu Sammy, the driver. Sammy encouraged me to go get 8 liters of oil, go get another CPC vehicle and the mechanic and come down as soon as possible to help. I closed the office, called the mechanic, and headed out. I went to buy the motor oil when fellow mission co-worker John Fletcher called. From what John had heard from Pastor Manyayi, it did not sound good. In fact it sounded dire. John was concerned about permanent damage to the engine from the way the situation was described to him. All I could do was pray and stay focused on my job at hand.
I grabbed a second moto taxi and headed out to find another CPC vehicle. Pastor Mboyamba was in Kinshasa but his wife was home. We call him, learned where the keys were for the vehicle, and I jumped in the old, worn Land Cruiser and turned the ignition but it wouldn’t start. What a day. I asked his kids to help push-start. On the second attempt the engine finally turned and I was off. I picked up the mechanic who listened to John Fletcher recount his fears to him over the phone. Without a lot of conversation, we drove down to find the stranded vehicle, our department’s prized new Toyota Land Cruiser. We found Tatu Sammy and the vehicle off to the side of the road. There were two large lorries ahead, stuck in the sand and blocking the road. Tatu Sammy and Pastor Manyayi had taken a side road and gotten stuck when the oil began pouring out below. Thankfully there wasn’t a long trail of oil which is what I had feared. Moreover, when we inspected the filter we learned that the plastic lining was torn – the root problem. Fortunately it wasn’t the dire situation we had feared.
However, the immediate problems of the day continued. We got stuck seeking an alternate route. We dug the vehicle out but then the vehicle wouldn’t start. We traded batteries. After picking up Pastor Manyayi and Kanku Mukendi in Tshikaji, we came back to tow the immobilized new vehicle back to Kananga. However, in Pastor Mboyamba’s old Land Cruiser it became apparent that the fuel injector was a problem. We would stop every 5-10 minutes to manually pump the fuel. The sun was going down. Getting near the airport and main road, we heard some awful sounds. The mechanic said “differential” - a serious issue. The mechanic’s aid got out and got under the vehicle. He worked, we talked, and the blaze of the sun nestled beneath the horizon.
Ahhh, a day in the life here in Congo. I have to say that despite the challenges and obstacles, God gave me a deep peace within. I had prayed for peace despite all of the problems and chaos. If you can believe it, God even answered my prayer to be encouraged. I was able to connect with my friend Pastor Manyayi in a significant way. Also, it was a bonding experience for all of us to suffer together. I arrived home around 7:30pm tired and dusty. My wife was there with arms open and dinner ready. Truly, God sees us. Truly, God hears us.