Thursday, September 23, 2010

On the Road Again!

Many thanks to Shalene as she has made a few posts recently about the tractor getting stuck.  Lets see if I can fill in some of the details.  The tractor is significant because right now, we are using it to bring water, stone, and sand for our block making, mortar, and concrete.  Our construction work will stop without it.  The river between us and the Town of Torit has risen so high with recent rains that no vehicle can pass.  Normally if the tractor broke down, we would visit the market and find a truck for hire until the repairs could be made.  Or when a vehicle is stuck, we could go to town to hire a truck to help pull it out.  But the town is cut off right now. 

On Saturday, we left to pick up Romano’s father who had broken his leg when a land cruiser ran his bicycle off the road.  We reached about one mile from him when we sank into a soft, muddy place in the road.  I worked with another man for five hours, but we couldn’t free the tractor.  With no water or food, we could not spend the night there, so at 6 pm we started a 10 mile walk back to our camp.  Fortunately I had a satellite phone and called for a friend to come on his motorcycle.  He met us about half way home and the three of us bounced and slid through the dark to our camp.

Monday we sent twelve of our workers walking the ten miles to the tractor while I made preparations with our crew leader for the rest of the compound.  We started work early Monday afternoon after about an inch of rain had fallen.  We worked until dark, lifting the tractor with a jack and making many trips on foot carrying stones and logs to squeeze under the tires.  We tried many times, but the mud was too strong.

Bush ambulance . . . Mr. Oguma waiting to be lifted into the wagon.
I could tell all of the workers were disappointed and discouraged.  Everyone was dirty with no extra clothes and few provisions for the night.  We walked a mile to the nearest village to sleep for the night.  I awoke many times that evening hearing thunder rolling in from some distant source, praying that rain would hold off.  Daybreak saw us back at the tractor and after a few hours of work the rain began to fall again.  We decided to make another try before the water began to rise.  I climbed aboard the tractor and rocked it back and forth, trying to get the traction to move forward.  Each wheel slipped in turn as the tires grabbed one stone and then another.  One inch it a time, we crawled until it was clear we were on solid ground.  Joy and cheers broke out as we celebrated our small victory.  But we turned quickly back to our work because now the tractor was parked on the opposite side from our home.  The only way home was back across the same treacherous ground.  We worked feverishly in the rain to rebuild a road of logs and stones that would support the weight of the tractor and prayed as we inched across it.  We walked to the village to finally pick up Romano’s father and eight of us took turns carrying his stretcher the mile back to the waiting wagon.  By this time, so much rain had fallen that a river flowed where we once worked to free the tractor.  

The ride home required that we cross many more now rain swollen rivers, and a few times I was worried we might get stuck again.  One was so high that it flooded our motorcycle and we had to load it into the wagon to carry back home as well.  As we arrived home, the clouds parted and the sun started to dry our clothes, but our spirits were already lifted that the job was done. 

As we arrived to the compound, Shalene, Abigail, the guards, and the dog gave us a warm welcome and Shalene had made a big pot of pumpkin soup for all of us.  Romano’s father had some heartfelt words for Shalene, “My children have helped me and they have not even eaten for many days because of me, I thank God and you”.  After spending five days in pain in the bush, these words were full of so much gratitude.

Unfortunately, we learned that Romano’s father has broken his hip.  His healing will require many more months, and it is uncertain right now what treatment may be available for him unless he travels which could be a very painful journey.  Continue to pray for him as he seeks the appropriate treatment.

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