When you plan a vacation, I imagine you choose a destination that you are excited to visit with plenty of fun activities, beautiful scenery, relaxing beaches, or people you want to see.
What if I told you the Shaw’s just spent two weeks paying a heap of money that met none of those qualifications?! That’s right. We did not see cool people, beautiful scenery, relax, or do exciting things. In fact, we got to walk down muddy, crowded sidewalks for seven days straight, sometimes in the rain and other days in the searing heat…uphill both ways!! Okay, that part is exaggerated. It was only uphill one way.
The story of our adventure started with our first solo border-crossing. We typically have a charming, elderly man accompany us who knows the ins and outs of crossing the border, but sadly he wasn’t available for this journey. There are always plenty of people to “help” you whether you want it or not and a man named Jean attached himself to us like Cling Wrap which did ease some of the hassle of knowing which window to visit in which order. There are 8 on the Congo side alone.
Once we crossed to the Zambian side, we rejoiced in our ability to speak English but promptly got intercepted by Interpol. Though this was our third time crossing, there was the unexpected need for a document that we did not have and have never been asked to present. This document should have been signed by the Lubumbashi police department to authorize that our vehicle is legal to take out of the country. We still don’t know if this was a ruse, but I applied all my powers of persuasion, appealed to their Christian values (it being the day after Christmas), and we were allowed through. We breathed a sigh of relief and headed to Kitwe, which was our first stop of the journey.
One night in Kitwe and the world was not our oyster…it turned into 3 very long nights. After rolling into town and finding our accommodations unprepared for our visit, we went to get dinner. We received a green light for our guesthouse while at dinner, but by a cruel twist of fate, our beast of a Land Cruiser, Tina, lost gears 3 and 4. We had JUST had this unreliable hunk of white junk serviced before leaving town…but what can you do? Day 2 in Kitwe was spent searching for a new transmission, and Day 3 Nick spent sitting at the garage babysitting the installation. Day 4 and thousands of dollars lighter, we took off bright and early for our destination of Lusaka, the capital city.
We had a fantastic time exploring, eating at good restaurants, finding Malaria medication, and ringing in the New Year, but sadly Tina still struggled with her transmission. This time gears 3 and 5 had to be forcibly held in place or they would drop into neutral. We headed back to Kitwe with a sense of hope but annoyance. The garage that had installed the transmission was going to work on Tina for free. Thank you, God.
We chose a hotel in town which was much more expensive than the guesthouse but enabled us to walk to the malls and boasted a pool. This was a good choice because the 2 estimated days for repair turned into a WEEK! The boys rejoiced in swimming everyday and we did what the Shaw’s do. We played a lot of Uno, ate a lot of ice cream, and made the best of it. This is where we walked the muddy sidewalks… yay!
So if this sounds like a delightful vacation to you, requiring unforeseen expenses, a week of extra travel, and an extended stay in a city with very little to do for entertainment, travel with us! One of the positive things I have heard said about Africa is the pace of life. I do have to admit that the easy, slow speed of the way we live definitely has its perks (silver lining?), but I would be lying if I didn’t admit that my American need for efficiency doesn’t fit that slow pace. Fortunately, the race I am running is one I am running for God and He determines the outcome, no matter at what pace I am living. Thank you, God for unexpected “vacations” which always come with lessons learned.
“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance.”
“…And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.”
Renee’s advance #3022491
Nick’s advance #3022490