This last week has certainly been an unexpected adventure! With baby #3 soon on the way we had long ago made plans to travel to the capital city for the expected delivery.
Last Tuesday we moved out of our house and into a nearby guesthouse so that Sammy could work with our neighbor to break up the floor of our kitchen and re-cement it, since it had lots of cracks and holes in it from the ground settling. Our house has also had a lot of problems with termites, so they treated all the door frames and window frames with chemicals to try and get rid of the termite problems.
We figured this was the best time to do the repairs and termite treatments since we plan to be gone for at least a full month which will give the cement plenty of time to dry and the house enough time to air out so that (hopefully) all the chemical fumes will be gone by the time we get back.
The trip to Yaounde is a very long and taxing drive by road, and being in the final month of pregnancy with the dirt roads being in the worst of condition right now because of the heavy rains, we were advised to not make this long trip by road.
We were scheduled to depart by helicopter on Friday, but Wednesday evening we got a call saying that the helicopter would need to have 2 pilots on this trip, and a crew of 2 meant there would only be enough room for 3 passengers and not all 4 of us!
Right away when we got the news, Sammy started scrambling to get everything done so that he could travel really early the next morning with the intent of taking the long (18 – 20 hour) trip by public transport and arrive in plenty of time to receive us on the other end.
So very early Thursday morning (3am) Sammy left to catch a vehicle to start the long journey by road.
On Friday morning I packed up some last minute things and got the kids ready to travel. The helicopter was scheduled to arrive around 11:45am and Sammy was already in the capital city by this time and planned to meet us at the airfield when we arrived.
Well, come 11:45am we went outside to watch for the helicopter to arrive. We waited, and waited, and waited . . . and nothing!
(Keturah waiting and watching for the helicopter)
Finally, we got a call that informed us that the weather was hindering them from being able to depart (they hadn’t even left yet!). They gave us an estimate of a new time when they might be able to arrive, but it would be much later in the day.
By this time it was already after noon, and storm clouds were rolling in. Since we had planned to travel and arrive in the capital city in time for lunch we didn’t have anything in the way of food. What’s more, with the rain coming it really hard just then I couldn’t even send anyone to town to pick up groceries for us.
(Caleb walking around with “auntie” while waiting for the helicopter to arrive)
Fortunately another missionary couple stepped in and offered us lunch. They raided their fridge for leftovers and were able to put together enough of a meal to satisfy everyone.
During lunch we got word about the helicopter again, this time saying that because of the weather it just wouldn’t be possible to make the trip today, so they would need to post-pone until the following day.
Supper was another scramble trying to find food for the kids. I managed to find some very basic groceries at a nearby shop, but the meal was very meager, not very tasty, and not very nutritious, but it was at least enough to fill our tummies.
It rained off and on all night long, and by 5:30 Saturday morning we began to worry that the rain wasn’t going to let up and the helicopter would be delayed yet again.
We sent out prayer requests and just started praying really hard that God would give us a nice sunny day and favorable weather for the helicopter ride.
Well, the prayers were answered! The sun finally came out around 9am and at last it looked hopeful that we would be able to travel at last.
But then, more bad news!
The weather was perfect, but apparently when the pilot took the helicopter up for a test run he discovered mechanical issues. What’s more, the issues would require them to import parts from the US, meaning it could be WEEKS before it could be repaired.
That was rather hard news to receive, and poor Keturah took it really hard. For the last month she has been counting down the days until we would go on the helicopter, so she was really disappointed to hear that was broken and wouldn’t be coming.
(Keturah comforting and consoling her doll as a way of processing her own disappointment)
What’s more, the kids were starting to get really restless, running out of things to do in the guesthouse, missing their daddy, and just struggling with this in-between stage of transition and waiting.
When we found out that the helicopter would no longer be an option we had to completely change our plans and reassess our options.
It didn’t make sense to have Sammy travel all the way back again to come and get us, but it also would not be a good idea for me to travel alone with the kids.
Then it dawned on us that Sammy’s parents were traveling that same day to head to the capital city and while they were planning to take a different route and not pass through our area on their way we thought it was at least worth asking if it wasn’t too late yet for them to change their plans to include us in their travels.
Well, we called them and explained the situation. At the time in which we called them they were JUST approaching the fork in the road where they would need to make the decision of which route to take – whether to pass through our part of the country or take the shorter (easier) route around us. So when they heard that were stranded they changed their plans and redirected their route in order to come and pick us up.
That afternoon we were struggling again for food. I had at least been able to find us some bread and eggs, some boiled peanuts, and a few snacks to hold us over for lunch, but there was nothing in the way of an actual meal.
Since the weather was agreeable I sent someone to town to pick up some roasted meat and plantains for us so that we could have a “real meal” for supper. They went to town for me, but instead of bringing meat and plantains for us they brought me some bananas – not at ALL what I asked for!
That was rather frustrating and left us in a tight spot. With no other ideas for what to do about food I just had to pray and surrender that need to the Lord. He is faithful. He always provides!
And sure enough. Not long after this I got a call from Sammy’s parents saying that they were about 3 hours away and that they had some food in their cooler if we wanted to share their supper with them.
Thank you Lord!!
Sammy’s parents pulled up in their Land Cruiser right around 6pm. Keturah was SOO excited to see them, and I have to admit that I had a feeling of “Phew! Finally help has arrived!”
The kids ran out to meet them and when they came back in Keturah gave me a BIG hug and said, “Grandma and Grandpa are here – I don’t have to be sad anymore! – They’re going to take us in their truck since the helicopter is broken. Now we can go and see daddy!”
It was too late to travel that evening, so we enjoyed a really nice (nutritious!) supper of chicken soup and just spent some fun relaxing time with grandparents.
The next morning we got up early to have some breakfast, load up the truck, clean up the apartment, and head out to start our 2-day journey by road!
(Sitting and playing with Grandma during the long drive)
It is possible to make the trip to the capital city in a single day, but with the roads as bad as they are right now, with me being so far along in the pregnancy, and with the added challenge of traveling with two kids who easily get car sick, we decided to take it really slow.
(Caleb and Keturah in “Grandpa’s Truck”)
As it turned out, all the prayers for a sunny day worked out to our advantage! Even though the conditions of the road were still very rough we all just kept marveling over the fact that the roads really were as good as they COULD be. The sun had dried the roads just enough that we didn’t have to worry about slipping and sliding too much, or worry about getting stuck in the mud (even though we passed a few trucks that were stuck). The road was dry enough to make the trip safe, even if it wasn’t smooth, but it was still wet enough that there wasn’t too much dust to worry about, which was also an added blessing.
(One of the worst sections of the road where trucks were getting stuck in the thick mud)
On Sunday we drove a total of 9 hours over the worst section of the roads. We were all very tired by the time we made it to a hotel half-way, but it was a great relief to at least know that the worst of the trip was behind us.
We stayed at a hotel that night and were greatly refreshed by warm baths and a good nights sleep.
(Our very happy, ambitious little guy, getting some breakfast before starting out on the road again)
Monday morning we got an early start again enjoyed the fact that most of the roads on our second day of travel were paved and much smoother than the day before.
(At the hotel, ready to set off on day-two of our journey)
It was still a very long day, though, especially for the kids. Keturah and Caleb were both really excellent travelers, and were both real troopers in spite of getting car sick and spending such a long time in cramped quarters.
When we finally arrived in the capital city we celebrated by stopping for some ice cream!! We don’t get to have ice cream where we live, so it really was a special treat indeed! But even that could not compare with the joy and delight of being reunited with daddy again when we finally reached the end of our long journey!
(Celebrating our arrival with ice cream!!!)
As for our expectant baby – in spite of the harsh road conditions and the taxing trip, there was nothing in the way of problems or complications with the pregnancy. Baby seems to be content to wait until the opportune time to be born, and I am sure that is largely thanks to the many prayers of friends and family these last few days.
While traveling by road was certainly not our preference this time around, we just trust that God has His reasons, and we praise Him for how well the trip went, and for His traveling mercies along the way. It is nice to have a faithful God we can depend on to always provide for our needs and to always work everything out for our good – even when we don’t always see the reasoning behind what He is doing.
If you have been among those who have been praying for us the last few days, THANK YOU!!
We praise God for His answered prayers and give Him the glory for safe travels and a blessed arrival!