This morning I was reading a portion of a book, In the Arena by Isobel Kuhn. It was her last book before she died in March, 1957 -- she wrote it while spending most of her time in bed with terminal breast cancer. For about 20 years, she had been a missionary in SW China, the Lisu tribe her main group... and whom she loved dearly. [Dave and I have read all of her books; she was very good at using everyday stories to display godly principles.]
In this portion of the story, she was talking about fleeing China into Burma in 1950 as the warfare was continuing and the battles blazing forward while the Communists were taking over. It was one very tough stretch for her. Her husband had stayed behind and she had left with Lisu men to walk her across the snow-buried mountains, the men carrying her 6-year old son and their belongings.
When they reached Burma, because of a number of side events, including "fleeing", she didn't have a visa, a passport handy, and no money that would work in that area. She needed to fly to Hong Kong and try to find a way to the US/Canada.
Well, amazingly, she had a checkbook and, as much as she never would have believed it was a possibility, a check could be cashed there. She was able to receive $150, which paid the main portion of what was necessary to reach a China Inland Missions office in Hong Kong that would give her the rest of her needed finances.
I had to laugh. I remember this could have been a huge solution to a problem Dave and I had during out first trip to Uganda in 1991. We had left home two days after the Gulf War started and had one problem after another... and one miracle after another ... by the time we reached Nairobi, the last stretch before the flight into Uganda. We had left home with $800. Because of flight changes, which, among other things required $75 to store our 18 boxes of goods at JFK in New York and $45 to tip the workers, a 2-day delay, and other problems, we had $547-ish left. We had one credit card, and planned to use it only if required. Since we were going to be in Uganda for 5 weeks, and had no idea how things were going to play out, we were a little nervous about how much our expenses had hit us.
Little did we know...
In Nairobi, while waiting for the final flight, we were told that we didn't have proof that the boxes had been prepaid in Omaha [$1,100] all the way to Entebbe. We had had the documentation, but Dave figured out later that what had happened was when we entered the plane at Heathrow, the flight attendant accidentally removed that proof with our boarding pass. The consequences? To reach Entebbe from Nairobi... about 400 miles [after traveling nearly 10,000]... we had to pay $600.00. I panicked, of course; was exhausted from all the flight changing and airport hanging out time, and now this! One of the employees agreed that we could put it on a credit card, but when we got to that window the other employee refused that as an option. It had to be cash. They agreed to take "only" $500. That left us with $47 and change. As I signed my portion of the traveler's checks, $25 each, my tears fell on them.
When we landed in Uganda, we discovered that it was necessary to have $20 each for the exit tax... so Dave set aside that $40. That left us with $7-ish. For five weeks. HOW COULD WE DO THAT???
God provided in many miraculous ways. But one that could've worked, but didn't work, has always made me grin. IF we had brought our checkbook with us, we could have easily received up to $300 with no questions asked. All we needed was someone to vouch for us... and that we had nearly immediately. Now, in Omaha, even back then, writing a check outside of a neighborhood, could require ID-over the top. WHY would we have thought of tossing a checkbook into our backpacks to take to St. Louis, New York, London, and AFRICA??
When we moved back there 3-1/2 years later, we did that and it worked well. But that one experience was a real eye-opener.
OH, just FYI, in '91, the banks in Uganda would not accept credit cards, no company would risk loaning us any money, and on and on. Just Christian connections pulled us through that 5 weeks. One example: someone we had met in passing for one evening at our host's home, placed a $100 bill in my hand in the dark house as she was leaving for the airport. We couldn't even see what it was until we could find a lantern, so she was well on her way before we saw the bill. I have no idea who she truly was; it was a very quick come and go and I was overwhelmed with gratitude towards her and the Father. Was she an "angel"?
We had the same problems going home. Just as the war had begun 2 days before we left home, it ended 2 days before we left Uganda, so flights and airports were buried in craziness. It was our first time ever, for either of us, overseas, and it was one of the most stressful stretches in our global history at that point ... and we not only made it, but our hearts were swarmed with the desire to return to Uganda.