December 29th was just another day at Musana Camps. I went to work very early that morning to prepare for the closing of the 2017 books. We needed to get a final cash count and inventory done, with a witness to those proceedings. We were expecting one of our external auditors from Kampala to help us with that.
While I was at work, Staci was at home with the kids, trying to get the house back into order after Christmas. There was a lot to clean up and get done.
In the office, Medi and Eva were very busy in their preparations for upcoming camps. We have a full January schedule, and there sure is a lot to do to get ready.
Among other things, I really needed to get to the neighboring village of Gaba. There, I could deposit money with the local cell phone carrier, which would be added to my account. I needed to do this in order to send money to one of our security guards who had gone home for Christmas. We’ve been working with him to save his resources, as well as lending him a little more. This was going to allow him to finally put a roof on the house he’s been building in his home village. He’s been working on this project for a couple of years, now.
It came as no surprise that our accountant friend arrived just in time for lunch at 1:00pm. We made arrangements to get him some food from the kitchen while I walked home for my lunch. I grabbed a quick bite with my family, finding some good progress made on the house. Now I just needed to get up to Gaba before lunch was over so that I could get back to our books. Since the kids were doing very well, Staci and I decided to go to Gaba together. We grabbed the keys to the 4-wheeler and headed out the door.
The road to Gaba isn’t so long, just a few kilometers. The 4-wheeler is our primary means of transport over the van, mostly because of the small roads with huge potholes, speed bumps, and wash outs. There is one spot on the road to Gaba that always leaves us with just three wheels on the ground in the van. Besides all of that, it’s just more fun on the 4-wheeler.
We left the gate for Musana and proceeded down the winding village road. The bush grows thick against the edges of the road, in areas being almost like a tunnel. It’s just barely wide enough for one vehicle in those areas, but frequently we pass by boda bodas (motorcycles). These guys are often driving fast, and typically are carrying any number of things. It’s not unusual for the boda man to have three or more passengers, lots of fruit, wood or rebar, or even a coffin or couch.
About half way to Gaba we were enjoying some conversation, and preparing for a gentle left turn. When we finally came far enough through the curve to see beyond, we were surprised to see a boda directly in our path. Seeing him wasn’t shock, but seeing his speed, and seeing him leaning into his turn and further into our side of the road… that was a surprise to me. He was already so close, and there was barely time to think. I swerved the wrong way, to the right. I really thought that with his speed and leaning into the turn, this would give him the best shot to pass through. He, of course, swerved left. I immediately reacted again, heading back to my left and grabbing all the breaks I had at my finger tips. While I did, he did the only thing that was left for him to do, he laid down the bike.
A boda laid down on that small road leaves no chance to miss. I half expected that our 4-wheeler would go over his boda like a speed bump, and I think I may have stood up just a bit in anticipation of it. Instead, his foot peg raked through the mechanical components behind my tire, and stopped the 4-wheeler instantly.
As we all well know, the immediate stop of the 4-wheeler has little to no impact on the passengers. The road… does. I went over the handle bars quicker than I thought possible. I really thought we had slowed down enough to avoid this circumstance. Staci, eyes closed and arms around me, came with. She’s always right behind me, pressing me on to better things, and in this instance, pressing me to the hard dirt road. Me, being the perfect gentleman that I am, assisted her with a very cushioned landing. I’m not sure what part of her hit me, but it definitely concussed my head against the ground. In spite of the speed at which this all occurred, I did hear, “Oh, no!” at least three times between the moment we left the 4-wheeler until my head made impact. I’m not positive, but I think I may have gone to sleep for just a moment with the lulling idle of the 4-wheeler in the background.
While I took a break with my head in the gravel, Staci began checking on everyone. The driver of the boda was getting up from his bike. His passenger had rolled off the road by several meters, and was lying perfectly still in the long grass. Mangos were everywhere. The 4-wheeler was still at an idle. Staci began to tug at my arm and ask if I was okay. I lifted my head to survey what she had already seen. Content at what I could see, I asked for a minute and laid my head back down on the gravel.
After getting to my feet, it was clear that everyone was going to be okay. The boda looked to be in good shape, really. I helped to get it back upright, and together with the driver we pulled mangos out from between the tire and frame. The passenger finally rose to his feet, and limped to a more comfortable place to rest. Our 4-wheeler didn’t look as good. The tire was blown out and torn. The rim was bent and cracked. The handlebars were bent, and still turned to the left. One front tire matched the left turn, while the one that absorbed the impact was turned to the right. I reached over the front to turn off the ignition.
People from all over this rural area began to congregate around the scene. We made a few phone calls, and soon our support from Musana arrived. The pickup came to take away the 4-wheeler, Nathan arrived to give us a ride, and some of our Ugandan staff came to help translate. Our clinical officer came, and ordered that the passenger be transported to our clinic for an examination.
After some debate, the boda driver finally admitted fault. However, the common belief of this region is that we are so substantially gifted, we should be responsible to pay. In some ways, it’s true. Still, it doesn’t ever seem fair or right. We agreed to take care of the physical examination for the passenger of the boda. We also finally agreed to take the boda to a repair shop in Gaba to see what damages needed repair. The boda actually fired right up, and all that was done was to bend the foot pegs back to their original position. While we could have continued to argue for hours, we instead agreed to these things that cost us about 40,000 Uganda Shillings, or just over $10. I’m still mixed on how I feel about it, but I am very thankful for our Ugandan friends who helped to speak wisdom during all of this commotion.
Now, with 48 hours to recover, it already seems like it was long ago. I struggled with dizziness and nausea in the first 24, but I think that has passed. Staci and I are both nursing some bumps and bruises, but we have so much to be thankful for. The 4-wheeler will be down for a while, but I think we will happily take delivery of replacement parts by close friends at the end of January. This time just makes us appreciate our 4-wheeler all the more, but as we look at our neighbors we also are quick to realize what a luxury it is. The $300 in parts wasn’t exactly in the budget, but this message is not at all meant to be a plea for money.
This message is a letter of praise to our Heavenly Father, who holds all things in His hands. It is a quick reminder to me that my time on this earth is not over. The moment He decides it’s over, I will be taken from this life. I have no right to think that tomorrow is anything other than a gift, and no right thinking that I should do anything with the time he has given me to work any purpose other than His. As you finish this letter, is there breath still in you? Do you really think that breath is yours? Do you really think that you are here to accomplish your worldly goals? What is the purpose, and why are you still here?
20 But you have not so learned Christ, 21 if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: 22 that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, 23 and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.