Sunday, October 05, 2008

Not Triple A, Septuple A

This past Friday, Caleb and Gracyn hopped into the car and rode with me and Alex to Chongwe, a village about 40 km east of Lusaka.  We were going to see the completed piggery that I had been helping Alex get setup.  I'll write about his piggery later, but for now, I wanted to share one of my firsts in Zambia with you, a flat tire.  

After leaving Alex's farm, we headed back out through this maze of trails that were just wide enough for the car to fit through.  We were nearly halfway out when suddenly we heard a very bad sound.  Air was not just leaking out from the rear left tire, it was gushing out.  Apparently, a rather large stick had found a way to puncture the side wall of the tire.  Before I could turn the vehicle off and get out, the tire was almost completely flat.

Now, in America, whenever I had car trouble, I had this nice little card in my wallet.  Can you say Triple A?  But here in Africa, it's a whole different story.  There is no such thing as Triple A.  So, you better be prepared before you travel.  Unfortunately, I wasn't prepared.  After getting out of the car and seeing what had happened to the tire, I looked in the back for the jack.  Much to my surprise, there was no jack.  So, we came up with a plan.

Now, remember, there were only three of us at this point.  Our plan was to get a big rock and slide it under the axle, loosen the lug nuts on the flat tire and loosen the lug nuts and remove the spare tire from the back of the car, dig out from underneath the flat tire and replace it with the spare.  Sounds doable doesn't it?

Well, as we started, we quickly learned that there was another problem.  The tire iron that we were using to remove the lug nuts was cheaply made and as soon as we tried to loosen the first nut on the flat tire, it bent.  But we continued to work with it and two hours later were able to loosen the last nut.  And by then, it was no longer me, the kids and Alex, but a team of about 7 Zambians who had wondered our way from their homes in the village.

Then we shifted our attention to removing the spare tire.  Now, the spare had it's own issues.  It apparently hadn't been removed since it was put on the car and the bolts holding the tire onto the car were rusted.  This made it very difficult to remove the bolts without further bending the tire iron.  After getting two of the nuts off, the third and final one broke.  The bolt somehow found a way to break free from the welding on the car.  Because of this, when we tried to turn the nut to remove it, the whole bolt turned with it making it impossible to remove the bolt.  

This meant one thing and one thing only.  If I was going to get the car and the kids out of the middle of the bush in Chongwe and back to Lusaka, we were going to have to find a way to break the last bolt that was holding the spare tire onto the vehicle.  So, as you can see in the picture above, using tools provided by one of the village men, we used a two pound hammer and an axe head and busted the last bolt off the car and thus removed the spare tire.

Now, since we had more man power (7 Africans and me) we changed our plans for removing the existing tire.  We did use a rock under the axle, but instead of digging the tire out, we all crowded around the back end of the car and picked the car up onto the rock.  Who needs a jack?  We quickly changed the tire, picked the car up one more time to remove the rock from underneath the axle and away we went, a mere 4 hours after popping the tire.

I know I don't have triple A, but I don't know what I would have done without the help of my 7 African friends that Friday in Chongwe.

Please pray for these guys.  It is customary in Zambia to give money to guys that help you in times like these.  Because I didn't have money at the time, I invited them to come to a church I will be preaching at in Chongwe next Sunday and I would help them out then.  I figured that it would be a good opportunity for some of these men to hear the gospel for the first time.  The message will be centered around Grace.  Pray that their eyes and hears would be open to the Word of God.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"Septuple A" -- That's classic! May the Lord bless you as you continue adapting to life in Zambia. Brian Stewart, ACTION