Ministry of Margaret Nelson
Uganda, Africa

February 01, 2006

Pondering and Prayer

Today has been one of those days we probably all have at some time or other, one that gives a lot of food for thought, as well as a need for prayer.

As you probably know, some months back, we wrecked my newly purchased Toyota Hilux pickup, with 4 of us narrowly escaping with our lives. The repair costs have been extensive. But God has been faithful, and with time, provided for those needs. He even provided more money than I thought was needed for the repairs, but due to extensive damage to the frame, that exact amount of money was needed.

However, I made the mistake of paying off the mechanic before the work was finished, and he used the money for other purposes. In Uganda, too often it’s the “tyranny of the urgent” that rules already poor business practices. So now, with only rewiring and repainting needed, a few days’ worth of work, the mechanic is more interested in working on other vehicles which will bring him cash. So my friend Pastor David and I have decided on a “harassment” policy to get the mechanic to finish my truck - frequent phone calls and, when we’re in town, David standing over him to force him to do the work!

It was with this decision being implemented yesterday that David spent several hours there, and in the process had his cell phone stolen! That meant unplanned trips to the police department, the phone company, and so on, and the added inconvenience of being unable to communicate easily. Plus we didn’t get the day’s objectives met while in Kampala, 50 miles from home.

As a result, we decided we must return to Kampala first thing today. We even got off to a very early start, leaving Luweero at 7 AM. However, as we got to the next town of Wobulenzi, we met an ambulance with screaming siren and flashing lights, heading to a local clinic. Now, In Uganda, that is not always an indicator of anything serious, but the crowd that gathered around the clinic as the ambulance pulled in, was. So we stopped also, to see what was going on, and we learned that there was a terrible bus wreck just down the road.

These buses that travel across Uganda have been the terror of our roads. They travel at speeds often In excess of 100 mph, causing death and destruction on our narrow, rough roads. So this past year the buses were forced to Install speed governors, which largely has reduced the carnage. But there are still a few who violate the law and remove their speed governors, continuing to speed and wreak havoc on our roads. So it’s hard to tell just how fast this bus was going when it hit a large pothole and burst a front tire. It was instantly thrown onto its side, and from the looks of the dust-covered survivors, plowed up a lot of dirt alongside the road before coming to a final stop.

The ambulance was hauling off its second load of victims by the time we got to the scene. A huge crowd had gathered and the police were there. David got out and went to the bus, finding a man trapped inside, his arm being crushed by a piece of metal. David chased off the gawkers and found someone with a metal bar which they used as a lever, and they quickly freed the trapped man. His arm was mangled, either from the accident itself, or more likely, from “rescuers” pulling him, trying to free him. Many times limbs or even bodies are torn from such efforts. This is one of the reasons for our SEVO program and Greg Matthews coming here in November to train police and SEVO members in vehicle extrication.

We took the man to the clinic where he would be stabilized and later transferred to a government hospital. We communicated the pertinent information to an acquaintance of the victim’s from the bus, so his family also could be notified. With an additional hour behind us now, David and I headed on to our business in Kampala.

As we sadly pondered the fate of the man and his arm, we marveled over how my truck problems led to David’s phone being stolen, which in turn led to this unplanned trip back to Kampala so early in the morning. This man had been the very last seriously injured person to be removed from the bus, and had our timing not been as it was, he could now be without an arm, or could even be dead. We’ll never see him again, but God knew and cared for that man

Please pray with us for:

Margaret Nelson