Standing in the 100-degree heat, stranded on a deserted African road with two flat tires, I thought this wasn’t the adventure my wife and I had envisioned when we decided to visit her cousin who was stationed at the U.S. Embassy in Kenya.
It was the fourth day of our five-day road trip. My wife, Betty, her cousin Linda, Linda’s 3-year-old twins, and I had set off to visit Thomson Falls. Fate had other plans.
We hit a giant pothole and blew out two tires. We had two spare tires, but we could not find the wrench to remove the tires. Soon, a small truck stopped, and in the front seat was a driver and a Catholic nun in a nurse’s uniform.
The driver offered to take me to the hospital up the road to meet with a mechanic. Driving along, I tapped the nun on her shoulder and said she was an angel; she looked me in the eyes and said “yes.”
We saw a vehicle coming that was the same make and model as the one we were driving. We stopped the driver, and he offered to help so I got in his SUV. A couple of minutes after we started changing the tires, we heard another truck. In the truck were four African men and a Catholic bishop who all offered to help. We soon discovered not only had we blown two tires, but the driveshaft was disconnected and the rear axel support bar was broken. The car would need to be towed.
The bishop offered to take Betty and the two girls to Wamba while Linda and I waited with the car until they could send help.
Driving past huts and small metal buildings, Betty wondered where he was taking them. The bishop stopped and had a long discussion with a middle-aged man. He turned to her, touched Betty’s hand and said “Do not forget, you are protected under the providence of God. Go with this man, Washington.”
While she waited for us, Betty spent the afternoon sharing snacks she had brought with her and teaching Ring-Around-The-Rosy in English to the younger children and helping the school-aged children with their English assignments.
When the truck finally returned, Linda and I met Washington and his helpers who loaded the SUV into the truck.
As we headed into town, we asked where we would stay the night. Washington said he would take us to a place that was clean and safe. It became clear to us that this was Washington’s town, that he had the main business and decided who did what. This was the reason that the bishop decided to take Betty and the girls to him.
Our room consisted of two small twin beds, a wood kitchen chair, a table and a lantern. There was no toilet or running water; there was an outhouse that consisted of a hole in the ground.
Morning couldn’t come soon enough. After cleaning up as best we could, we packed up and began our long journey home.
When we tell our story, people always ask us two questions: Do you really think you saw an angel? I believe that nun is today caring for the sick in the hospital in Wamba. Angels are messengers from God, and she had a message for me that everything was going to be OK. The bishop had a message for Betty when he said that she was under the protection of God. The second question is would you do it over again? Yes, it was the most exciting two weeks of our lives.