Those who know me very well know that I hate driving. In my first year of having a driver's license, I averaged one accident every two months, which includes hitting gas pumps, rear ending a police officer, and driving down a Lake Michigan boardwalk (I thought it was a parking lot, until people started jumping out of the way...) Even after I was married, I could not keep a side mirror on my car, as I kept hitting things and breaking them off. Joel joked that he needed to order car mirrors in bulk, but really, it was not so much a joke. My in-laws still have a tree that bears the marks of the numerous times that I rammed into it, while backing out of their driveway.
I am careful, really I am, but I have terrible depth perception and I HATE driving. On the plus side, I know I am terrible, so I always drive very, very slow, with the result that while I have injured many an inanimate object, I have never hurt a living being.
So I stopped. Right in the middle of the road, I simply could not move the car. People began to look at me. I rolled down my window and asked if there was any way forward. They shook their heads and gave me a look of pity. This crazy white woman - what is she doing here?
Some men approached my vehicle. One was holding a jug of shake-shake, a cheap, ubiquitous alcohol in Zambia. I looked around. I was surrounded by hundreds of people, sitting trapped in my vehicle. I knew I was safe, but I was certainly far from comfortable. As yet another mini-bus zoomed past me, rattling my car, I felt the beginning of tears leak from the sides of my eyes. Stop. Breathe. You will get out of here. One of the men tapped on my window. I rolled it down. "I will help you," he said. "You need to turn around." And so, with the help of a few of his companions, he cleared a path for me. He stopped the vehicles flying past on both sides, cleared all the people filling the street, and guided me out, moving around the car, directing me backwards and forwards and sideways, until the path was clear, until I could turn around. I waved my thanks, and drove back to my office.
When I arrived, my boss, the General Secretary of our synod, Rev. Maleka Rabson Kabandama, was just sitting down to lunch. He knew I had been leaving for home; he knew I had to get back for a meeting, and so he was baffled as to why I had returned to the office. He could tell I was shaken and frazzled, and he asked what had happened. When I explained that I was stuck, he looked at me with gentle understanding, and said, "I can get you home." I protested. He was just sitting down to eat! "No," he said. "I will eat when I get back. You can follow me."
I accepted his offer, and began to follow him through twisting backroads, over paths I had never seen, for almost a half hour. Finally, I saw a familiar church, and I knew how to get back. Rev. Kabandama pulled over to the side of the road, and I unrolled my window. "You know where you are now?" he asked. "Yes," I said, trying again not to cry in gratitude. "Now I know where I am."
And so Rev. Kabandama turned back, having taken an hour out of his very busy day and returning to a cold lunch. But he had led me forward, so that I would know where I am.
|With Rev. Kabandama in my office|
I know where I am. I am surrounded by the love of God. That is where I am. Thanks, stranger. Thanks, Rev. K. I see God because of you.