This last couple of weeks have been a bit crazier than usual in our household. And yet the craziness has been a reminder of how much we need your prayers and how good God is to us. The week before last we were at a conference in Lome and on the way there we broke down three times. The first time the truck was over heating, so we pulled over and as we were debating how much of our drinking water we could afford to use on the rad (we were 20-30 minutes from the nearest village). We looked across the road and in the middle of nowhere there was one hut that just happened to be right next to us across the road (with nothing else to be seen for miles around). They were gracious and gave us a small bucket of water for the rad. On a closer look it was decided that the rad cap was broken. Our mechanic from Niamey gave us some advice over the phone and (without air conditioning) we made it to the next village/city where we were able to get some help and find a new rad cap. Two hours later we were on the road again. Because we had lost so much time it was well after dark before we could get anywhere to spend the night and I made the mistake of asking if we could try to a/c again, now that the sun had gone down and the outside temperatures had dropped. Of course, we over heated again a few minutes later and had to pull over to add water to the rad. Five minutes further down the road, we started over heating again. This time we were able to pull up behind a bush taxi that was loading up to take things to the market in the morning. The ladies who were loading up their wares for market were kind and brought us some more water for the rad and the bush taxi driver realized that the water was running out almost as fast as we put it in because there was a hole in one of the hoses. He decided that if we cut off the hose where the hole was there was probably enough left to reconnect the hose so that the cooling system would work again. So he went back to his bush taxi, pulled out some tools, removed the battery and some other things that were in his way and climbed into our over heated engine so that he could trim the hose and reattach it. When he was done we were able to maintain water in the rad, (but some of our lights were doing funny things and there was the odd strange noise) and where able to make it the last half an hour down the road to a city where we could find a hotel.
The next morning we were debating heading home or sending some on the bus while others waited for the mechanic from home to come get the truck or what we should do. When we asked Pastor Soter what he thought he said, I think we should keep going because Jesus is with us and whenever we have needed help on the road there has been someone to help us. He was right so we kept going, knowing that we had an even longer journey the second day because of all the interruptions on the road.
Our second day could have been very miserable squeezed between the two boys with no a/c but God was good to us and provided over cast skies. The trip was slowed significantly because of the potholes and construction, but we were able to make it all the way to Lome without breaking down.
The conference was for the leaders from all the West African countries where the FM church was working and there were a few others that had stories to tell of their problems in getting there, but it was a good time of fellowship, sharing and connecting with others at various stages of ministry. I am not sure that the boys got a whole lot out of their time there but I think it was good for them to get a break from the regular routine.
We tried to get the truck fixed while the conference was going on but that only partially worked so we had to delay our return an extra day. Thankfully we were almost out of the mountains before the truck started to do funny things (the ABS brake light came on). So again we checked with our mechanic in Niamey who gave us some advice. I asked some friends in Niamey to pray that we would have daylight to make it through the rest of the mountains and that our brakes would hold (both of which happened! Praise God!). We seemed to be making good time and knew of a guest house in Burkina that would get us much closer to home, so we thought we would try to make it there. About a half an hour from the Burkina border we decided to phone to make sure they would have room for us, only to find out that they were under a curfew, so we wouldn't be allowed into town after dark. The person at the guest house recommended that we find a hotel at the border. When we got the the only hotel at that border we found it completely in the dark with no one there. The neighbours told us it was Monday and they were closed, so we had to back track about an hour down the road to the last town that had a hotel. Thankfully they were not only open but they had space and the restaurant was still open, so that we could get something to eat. I was so exhausted by the time I fell asleep that night, I was able to sleep through the awful sound the a/c was making and didn't even mind too much when it kicked out part way through the night.