Thursday, January 06, 2011

On The Road Again

Disclaimer: I absolutely cannot take any credit for these three stories. They all came from my dad. But they were simply too rich not to share. All three were included in the biographical article.

From time to time, dignitaries from the United States would travel to visit the mission work in Africa. During one such time, there were two men, each going to a different mission. The one man visited my parents' work, and my father wanted to take him to an out-station. My father picked a school, which was south of Sikalongo Mission, down the escarpment towards the Zambezi Valley, where road conditions were very poor and the road quite steep. The vehicle they had was an older one, and the brakes were in bad shape.

Even with my father using the foot brake and the hand brake, it was all he could do hold the car on the steep decline. My father instructed the African helper who was along to find a big rock, and then get on the running board of the car. He then instructed the helper that if the car would start going too fast, my father would call out, the helper should jump off and quickly put the rock under the front of the rear wheel to help stop the car. The visiting dignitary was duly impressed with the conditions under which the missionaries worked.

My mother also had car difficulties. On one trip that she and another woman missionary were on, the car got stuck in mud a few miles from the mission. Unable to extricate themselves, they saw a African riding by on his bicycle. My mother gave him a note to take to “Mufundisi” (meaning my father). Off he rode. Rather than wait, the two missionary women kept trying to get unstuck, and by perseverance succeeded. As they neared the mission, they encountered another African who flagged them down, and handed them a note to take to “Mufundisi.” It was THEIR original note!

A more reliable means of transportation was a bicycle. Most of the missionaries had a personal bike. My father used his bicycle at times to visit out-stations. He would take a folded camp cot and a changing of clothing along. His African helper carried along minimum cooking equipment. On one visit to out-stations, my father along with another missionary man and an African helper, all on their bicycles, encountered a river swollen due to seasonal rains. Faced with this situation, the two missionary men (and presumably the African helper)decided to strip naked, hold their bicycles over their heads, and ford the river. Once safely on the other side, and reclothed, the other missionary man turned to my father and wryly remarked “That was a rich experience."

I hope you enjoyed these road stories.
Next time, maybe I will pull out some of the animal stories.

Please note: the woman pictured in the photo above is NOT my mother, but another missionary woman standing with her bicycle.


Jayne said...

I am smiling... and THAT is why you must write that book!

Anvilcloud said...

I did enjoy the stories, and "Mufundisi" reminded me of reading "Cry the Beloved Country" almost fifty years ago. It may not be the very same word, but it seems somewhat familiar.

KGMom said...

AC--the word "Mufundisi" would probably have been Mfundisi in Cry, The Beloved Country. It translates roughly as preacher or minister or even teacher. It is an honorific term.

Mauigirl said...

Wonderful stories - you must have many more to share with us, would love to read them.

NCmountainwoman said...

Great stories. They would be great on NPR's "Driveway Moments."

Tossing Pebbles in the Stream said...

Lovely tales. I imagine your father has a lot of them.

Ruth said...

We concern ourselves with "risks" to the point where people are afraid to be creative when they are in trouble. Your parents adapted well to different living conditions. Great stories!