2012 July 23
Our motorcycle has been fairly reliable since 2009 when I arrived in Chad. Until recently. Over the last few months, we have spent a fair amount of money trying to repair it, yet it still continues to be unreliable. The roads are full of puddles and wet, muddy holes. Last Sabbath we pushed our motorbike about 3km back home after it quit on our way to church. We decided that it was time to get a new bike.
On Sunday, I took advantage of a flight to Moundu. Gary and Darren were along also. The plan was for us to get two motorbikes - one for somebody else and one for me. Darren and I would drive them about 130km by road back to Bere.
Purchasing the two motorbikes and doing the paperwork took a number of hours, but it was finally done. As we did one last check over the motorbikes before beginning the journey back home, Gary pointed out a nut on the brake mechanism that needed to be safetied. I found a strip of wire on the ground and tied the wire around it to keep it attached. I clipped the two extra pieces off. Then the Holy Spirit spoke to me and said, "Save the rest of that wire. You might need it." I promptly put the wire in the pocket of my backpack, even though it was only about three inches long.
The trip started fairly well. A few minor problems showed up, but we fixed them and continued. The bike seemed very low on power until we discovered bubblewrap covering the air intake. It worked fine when we removed that. The road heading North from Moundu to Kelo is much improved from what it was even a couple years ago. It is paved and well-maintained, at least according to African standards. We were rolling along at a pleasant 40-45mph most of the way.
After reaching Kelo, we turned East onto the dirt road headed to Bere. The first section is very rocky and quite bumpy. The sun was setting, and with all of our delays, we knew we would be driving the last portion of our journey in the dark. This road is full of puddles, some of which are shallow, some of which are very deep. Even in the day time, it is hard to identify deep puddles. At night, it is much more difficult. But we were committed at this point and kept going.
All of a sudden I heard a "clink", and then a few moments later, "clatter, clatter, clatter" and lost power. Either the chain was broken or it had fallen off. Getting upset or frustrated does no good, so we started to look at the problem. My Leatherman came in handy as it does almost every day, and we soon had the chain back on the bike. A rubber piece got chewed up, so we just removed it and the bike worked fine.
As we were working on this smaller moto, Darren was commenting on the larger one he had been driving for the past half-hour or more. He said the steering felt wobbly or loose. We thought that maybe it was just the feeling of the new suspension of a new bike over the rocky road. Then Darren pointed at the wheel and said, "Hey, look at this!"
The large nut had fallen off of the front axle bolt. This is the bolt that holds the front tire onto the steering fork. And this bolt was hanging several inches out the other side. It was just through one of the sides of the fork. If the tire had come off while we were on the pavement going 45mph, the accident would have been terrible. Even if it came off on the dirt road where our speed was slower, it would have been a dangerous situation.
Darren and I thanked God for protecting us and for keeping the front tire attached somehow.
"How are we going to fix that?" I wondered aloud. We do not have a spare nut. A few people came from the huts nearby, but none of them had nuts or even wire.
Then I remembered the small piece of wire I had put in my backpack. "Let me try something," I said, as I fished around for that little piece of wire. "I hope it's long enough." Finding it, I discovered that it was just long enough to go around the circumference of the bolt one time with enough extra to twist. Using my Leatherman, I twisted the wire firmly onto the threads of the bolt right where the nut would normally sit. Then I pulled a piece of string out of my pocket and tied it tightly around the wire and bolt as a second "precaution."
Night had fallen by now. Praising God one more time, we turned our headlights on, and started down the muddy road toward home. At least another 40km of road lay before us. The repair held perfectly, and we arrived safely at home some time later.
Life experiences teaches me and reinforces important lessons:
When God speaks, listen! Even if He says, "Save that piece of wire. You might need it sometime," obey.
When "bad" things happen, thank God. We do not always see why, but we got to see why on this trip. Having to stop and fix a chain was inconvenient perhaps, but allowed us time to notice a far greater danger.
All inspiration comes from God. I do not claim credit for the fancy twisted wire trick, but credit God for the idea.
Thank you, God, for showing me Your care and protection over me once again.