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 outside area, 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 over to retrieve my passport from my backpack, I started to fall on the floor, fainting. A couple of the hotel reception people held me and walked me to a seating area, then brought me some juice. While there, 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.
Today, while reading my daily devotional, the date hit me. And then I thought of the Taxi Park Angel again, and had to smile ... and had to share this story again.
It happened on January 27, 2004.
Even though I usually took a LOT of photos, and have hundreds from that stretch in Uganda, now I was too tired. Couldn't do my hobby. So, during my 3 days at the hotel, these were the only ones from my window. Cute, huh? Our life is SO different.
|See my sweet birdie?? Ain't small, be tall!!!!|
|Hey, you local builders, see how tough this can be??|
On January 28th, in the early evening, the hotel transported me to a doctor's office. In the next couple hours, the nurse and doctor took care of me, gave me a shot, pills for my headache, a prescription for the malaria drug, which I received nearby, and then I was taken back to the hotel. The reason I'm being detailed is because with all of those helps, the total cost came to the big amount of $28.00. Think we could live with that???
And Dave was arriving January 30th, 2-1/2 months since we'd been together. I missed him so much; could hardly wait for his arrival at Entebbe. I really wanted to be a few steps healthier by then. I wanted to take him around to meet my new Soroti friends and visit our former friends who had moved to other parts of Uganda. We'd be heading home on February 12th. Most of that didn't come to pass, because of my exhaustion connected to PTS and a bit of the left-over malaria.