A week ago Thursday was the last day of school. We were in a bit of a celebratory mood — it was the end of the 3rd quarter of school, Spring Break had officially begun. My small group of 6 girls (for discipleship) from school were here for an overnight. And on top of that, our neighbor Karl’s brother was coming from the US to be with family over Break.
So at 3 AM, we were still up watching DVDs, having fun with our discipleship group, when Karl, our neighbor came to tell us “The good news is, nobody is hurt. The bad news is, we lost everything… including the car.” It took a few minutes for all that to make sense. Karl & his dad Paul, had been to the airport to pick up brother/son Erik and another missionary friend. The flight was greatly delayed, putting them on the road at 1 to 2 AM. They were carjacked, robbed, and left to walk home in the rain — a 45 minute walk.
Needless to say, we didn’t sleep that night, calling authorities, talking, praying for the thieves and changing passwords, canceling credit cards. Before dawn several of them went back out to the site to see if anything had been left behind. All they found was a comb. They spent the next few hours reporting the incident to police, in a couple of different places.
Now, 10 days later, as we were anticipating Easter dinner with missionary colleagues, Ron got a phone call saying they think they’ve found the stolen vehicle. He provided a spare key to a couple of the staff from school who retrieved the vehicle. The battery was dead so it had to be towed back to school. A belt was broken (a common occurrence on this old car) so it likely broke down the night it was stolen, and abandoned there. We’re so grateful for the hard work and sacrifice on the part of our school administrator who acts as liaison with government offices here, and the school staff member who was able and willing to tow the car on Easter Sunday!
We weren’t really sure what to expect. To be honest, I was surprised it hadn’t already been disassembled and sold as parts — it’s a typical taxi style car. The contents were taken (except a car seat and umbrella), but the car is back.
But this message was inscribed in mud on the front hood — yup, feelin’ the love in Yaounde.
There is truth in this, however. I’ve been thinking about so many ways recently that God’s love and grace permeates crises in our lives. For example, no one was physically hurt in the incident. The 4 thieves had machetes, and were not afraid to flail them about, but no one was badly hurt. Also, the car Paul & Karl had intended to drive to the airport, one of the newer used vehicles, would not start. It was too late to get the key to the newest used vehicle, so they took this one — the least valuable. Paul joked that like a bad penny, it showed up again! 🙂 But had it been one of the other 2, we’d be hard pressed to transport everyone to the spiritual retreat this week. This is not the only time we’ve seen grace in crisis.
Back when the tree fell on the power lines, there was much to be thankful for — report cards had been printed, so there was no immediate stress at school; the generator was “healed” and started up inexplicably after the fiasco at the school play. And the power lines were re-strung without having to cut any trees.
Then our friends Roy and Aleta Danforth told about brakes going out on their truck — a potentially very dangerous situation! But the timing was such that accidents were averted. That happened again on their way in to Yaounde the other day! The brakes went out, but quite close to their destination, to which they arrived safely.
So, being robbed is not fun, to say the least. And losing a vehicle along with all the luggage of 2 international travelers really stinks. Having the power lines fall, being without electricity for days, and losing brakes on a vehicle can be not only inconvenient, but dangerous! But, these have been opportunities to see God in action. None of these situations took Him by surprise. And seeing His grace and love in the middle of them just makes it easier to trust Him.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.” – Proverbs 3:5-6