It was nothing short of a miracle. As the new kids on the block in East Africa we were given the oldest vehicle to drive as we learned language and immediately following our first year of culural learning. It was a joke of a vehicle, a Volkswagen Kombi that Moses possibly used to cross the Red Sea. Every time we went on a trip longer than three hours the engine failed and we spent many nights with a six-year-old and a four-year-old stranded in villages.
A significant church from Texas came for a visit and fell in love with our family while horrified by this Moses, defeating vehicle. The weekend they returned to Texas they raised a significant donation to purchase for our family a brand-new Nissan Patrol, four-wheel drive, AM/FM radio with a cassette player.
Soon after receiving this brand-new vehicle I agreed to take approximately 40 gallons of paint to a new church out in the bush. I started out at seven o’clock in the morning just as the monsoon season hit northern Malawi. The rain was so intense that I could not see the dirt road that I was traveling and I began to hit significant potholes covered underwater. Then I hit the “mother of all potholes.” The plastic 5 gallon buckets of paint in the rear of my new Nissan Patrol, four-wheel drive, AM/FM radio with cassette player beginning to elevate at an alarming rate in the back of the truck’s interior. When the buckets came down three of them split; spraying paint over the complete interior of my truck, until it was raining paint on my head while filling my shoes with a mixture of white goo.
Of course once I arrived at the church I discovered that I, the westerner, am the only one crazy enough to be out in the monsoon rain and there was nothing for it but to turn around and take my paint splattered 4 x 4 back to our small town.
Arriving there, it was still early in the morning and I decided to check our mail at the small local post office. Walking up the three steps to get to the post office I halfway took notice of the donkey tied to the post a little bit above the front of my vehicle. Joyfully I found a letter in our PO Box and came trotting out of the building, placing my hand on top of the hood of my new, now filled with paint, Nissan Patrol, only to find that the donkey had left me a love offering on the hood of my truck. I placed my hand squarely in the donkey’s love offering.
Now I’m covered in paint and donkey doo! Before I could get into my truck and return home to clean myself and my Nissan Patrol, a Malawi lady began to shout my name. Coming closer to me I saw that she had a newborn baby in her arms. She told me that the baby was not feeling well and would I pray for the baby? Agreeing to this, though uncomfortable with my smelly and paint covered condition, she thrust the baby into my arms. There in the middle of the street I began to pray for the sick baby only to discover she was not wearing diapers. As I waxed eloquent in my prayer for healing, the baby began to relieve herself, adding her own special wetness to my paint splattered clothes and donkey encrusted hand.
Standing in the street, covered in paint, smelling like the north end of a southbound donkey, with a thoroughly soaked front as a blessing from the baby, I decided I might as well open my letter, read its content, hopefully redeeming the morning just a little bit? Pulling out the one sheet of paper inside the envelope I read this simple prayer from the saint somewhere in the United States. She wrote,
“I am praying for you and praying for God’s blessings on you. I pray that every day will be just like today.”