Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Man proposes – God disposes

Trip to Apolo

Road to Apolo

One of my duties in Bolivia is to visit the national church congregations that are located in outlying areas of Bolivia in order to strengthen our fellowship ties and also to see if there might be some potential theological education students who could study with us.  The first trip was to Santa Cruz.  This month another trip was planned to the outlying area of Apolo.  There is a saying that man proposes but God disposes.  That clearly turned out to be the case in this instance.  My wife, Kathy and I, Julio, the pastor of Redeemer Congregation in La Paz, Julián and his wife, Ana all headed out for the town of Apolo in the mission car at 7:30 a.m. on Thursday, Sept. 15.  

Julián & Ana

Stop for Lunch

We were told that the total length of the trip would be around 12 hours.  We had traveled for 7 hours when it became evident that the car was losing power.  I stopped the car to check the oil and to see if there was any other evident problem.  Once the car had stopped, I attempted to put the car in Park, but found that the gearshift lever was jammed.  Then I made an inadvertent mistake.  I turned the motor off in order to check the oil.  I found that both the motor oil and the transmission oil levels were ok, so the decision was made to try to keep going to the next town in order to try to find a mechanic who could look the car over.  However, when I tried to start the car, I found that I could not do so since the car, having an automatic transmission, will only start with the gearshift lever in Park.  More efforts were made to get the gearshift lever to move, but to no avail.  A mechanic in La Paz was called and he made some suggestions, but nothing worked. 

Finally the decision was made to call the insurance company and ask that a tow truck be sent.  The insurance company told us that the only two trucks available were in La Paz, 7 hours away.  Since there didn’t seem to be any other alternative, we asked that one be sent.  Meanwhile we began to pray that a car with a mechanic would stop and help us out.  None came.  We were on a very isolated stretch of road.  A vehicle would pass about once every half hour.   

Fog Rolling In

Since a special invitation had been made by the president of the Apolo congregation to attend their yearly voting assembly, it was felt that it was very important that at least some members of the group still try to get to Apolo by hitching a ride or by flagging down a bus that was headed in that direction.  At 5:30 p.m. a bus picked up Julio, Julián and Ana.  Kathy and I stayed in the car to wait for the tow truck from La Paz.  Around 7:00 p.m. a heavy fog moved in and surrounded the car.  It was clear that our trust in the Lord was being tested.  What if another vehicle smashed into us?  What if thieves held us up?  We put the reflector triangle behind the car and also turned on the blinker lights whenever we saw the lights of a car approaching from either direction.  Since the road we were on was high in the mountains, as night fell it began to get very cold, and of course we could not use the heater of the car to warm us up.  Since Apolo is located at a lower and warmer altitude, we had each only brought along a light jacket. 


The tow truck finally showed up at 10:00 p.m.  The driver was a mechanic and tried to get the gearshift lever to move, but was unable to do so.  The only option was to take the car back to La Paz.  They pulled the car up onto the flatbed of the tow truck.  Since three men had come in the tow truck, there was no room for us to ride in the truck.  So, we sat up in the car for the ride back to La Paz.  The car was comfortable and has reclining front seats, but the downside was the cold.  The ride back to La Paz took another 7 hours and we finally got in at 5:30 a.m.  We thank the Lord that He was with us throughout this ordeal and that He got us back home safely.  Our trust is that His plans are always best.  

Go to for addtional details.

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