Tuesday, April 6, 2010
TAXI PARK ANGEL
For most Ugandans a taxi park is a normal part of life, but Westerners rarely have this “wonderful” experience; I hadn’t done it for several years. I arrived at the park in the blazing afternoon heat after spending three hours in transit, beginning with a walk, then a very uncomfortable ride on the back of a bicycle, followed by a 10-mile hot and dusty motorbike ride. Finally, I was ensconced in a matatu and finished my intense jaunt to Kampala.
Not only emotionally and physically exhausted from ministry in a refugee portion of Uganda, unbeknownst to me, I was in the beginning phase of malaria. I plowed through the crowd, juggling around my heavy duffle and my bulky backpack. I knew when I reached the street I could find a ride to a hotel. However, I felt totally overwhelmed, not sure I could make it.
At that very moment, a young teen stepped up and asked if I wanted a “special hire”(a non-public taxi) and I said I did. He said “We'll find and I'll carry.” He reached for my bag. I told him “I don't have any ‘small’.” (I had no money for a tip.) In spite of this, he took my bag and said he didn't want money. I was absolutely stunned and couldn’t believe him. Even though he was slightly built and my duffle was very heavy, I was nearly certain that when we reached the park’s exit, an accomplice would grab the bag from him and make a run for it; consequently, as hampered as I was by the crowd and the heavy back pack, I rushed along, carefully keeping him in view. Amazingly, he was faithful. When we reached the street, he said he would find a special hire and asked me how much I would pay. I said 7,000// [Uganda shillings]. He said, "You can get for 5,000//.” Another miracle – even if he could have hired a taxi for 5,000//, it would have been normal that he tell me it was 7,000// and pocket the difference. Then he asked, “Do you know why I am helping you? My Pastor said we should bless our elders and God would bless us.” I nearly cried on the spot. I felt God’s hands encompass me with His gentle and very timely care.
Joseph found a car, arranged the fee, and escorted me to the hotel. At the reception desk, bending to retrieve my passport from my backpack, I started to faint. Seated in the lounge, resting, My Angel sat near me, watching with great concern. A little later, able to change larger bills into some smaller denominations, I paid the driver. Then I gave Joseph 2,000// (four times more than what I would have paid at the park), which he tried to decline. I said, “You said God would bless you for helping. He is.”
I had many adventures in Uganda, some very difficult and sad and some very funny. But among the most wonderful was this amazing encounter with Joseph, my Taxi Park Angel.
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