This week we continue our story of the journey Stan and Brad took when they began this ministry. When we left them last week they were driving through poorly maintained roadways–more like sand traps with deep ruts made by six-wheel transport trucks wider than the Toyota’s wheelbase.
This portion of the story begins with Forty-five, their driver struggling to drive the old pickup through this sand. (A reminder: Stan nicknamed the driver Forty-Five because he always drove at a forty-five degree angle–first in the left rut, then right rut, then back again the whole journey.
Forty-five edged the vehicle to the top of the bank. More branches scratched the driver’s side. The truck skidded. Fishtailing, it sprayed dirt behind. An hour later he’d only driven three miles.
The left back wheel slipped, spun in the dirt. As Forty-five accelerated, the wheel dug deeper into the soft sand. He shifted into low gear, gunned the engine. Whirling deeper, the tire burrowed in, pulled them sideways. No use. They were stuck tight. Jungle brush on the driver’s side, sand pit on the other.
Stan leaned forward. “We’ll help push.”
Brad opened his door.
Forty-five grunted. “We push. No problem. You get out.”
Sliding down the steep slope, Stan and Brad stood out of the way.
The driver shouted at the mechanic. “Get back there and push.” He pointed at the passengers on the pickup bed. “You. Push!”
“I guess the paying customers don’t have to push,” Stan said.
Between the four men, they made it past this obstacle. With everyone back aboard they continued at a two-mile per hour pace.
Next they approached a river.
Grim-faced, the driver slowed, adjusted his welding gloves on the steering wheel. “This river bank looks steeper than the last one.” He nodded at the mechanic. “You’d better find me a safe way through this.”
The mechanic rolled up his pants. He sloshed through the water for several yards, tested its depth, then gestured for the driver to follow.
Inching along, Forty-five edged the truck down the slope into the stream bed. They bounced and jerked over the rocks in the water. As the pickup shuddered up the opposite bank, children with sticks and primitive tools ran out to greet them.
Brad glanced ahead. “I think our road repair crew has arrived.”
“Should we give them anything?” Brad asked “That is, if they actually do fill any of the holes.”
Enjoying their game, the children made a half-hearted effort to push the dirt around.
“They’re going to have to do a better job than that for me to part with another franc,” Stan said.
“No pay.” The driver growled in the rear view mirror. Shouting through his open window, he shook his gloved fist at the children.
Steam rolled from under the hood.
Forty-five braked. “What this now?”