We were living in Salawe, ‘way out’ beyond the forest, across 3 cotton-soil swamps that were murder during the rains! I was coming home from Mwanza, our closest town about 70 miles away, with a load of building supplies in my Land Rover. It had rained. The swamps were very muddy but, because it was the early rains, were not impassable. I had safely come through the first 2 swamps. That is where a 4-wheel drive shines!
The 3rd swamp was now the challenge. I plowed on through the mud and half-way through heard a loud thump. It seemed to come from the back of the vehicle and kept repeating itself as I made my way across the rest of the swamp.
I stopped when I got to the other side and inspected under the vehicle. Oil was dripping out of a crack in the differential housing. Something was wrong in there but this was not the place to attempt major repairs. I had a bar of “yellow soap” (the gummy, local stuff) which I used to rub into the crack to stop the flow of the leak. I continue on my way. By hit and miss, I found that if I kept my speed below about 5 mph I could keep moving without the clunking in the rear. It took forever going those last 8 miles to the station but we made it.
You guessed it. The next day saw me under the Land Rover, jacking up the rear, disconnecting the drive shaft, pulling out the axles (they were ‘floating axles’) and taking the cover off the differential. Pieces of metal flowed out with the rest of the oil. When I removed the gears, I found that one of the teeth on the ring gear had sheared off. The pinion gear was slightly damaged but, I guess, by keeping my speed low those last 8 miles, the sheared off tooth from the ring gear wasn’t ‘stirred up’ in the remaining differential oil and thus didn’t cause more difficulty.
So, a new ring gear and pinion was needed – and that was at least 70 miles away and my vehicle was dead! What to do? I wrapped up the damaged gears in burlap, hired an African to go by bicycle the 35 miles to the main road and catch a vehicle going to town and to go to Schumann’s Garage (the Land Rover dealer) and show them the old and ask for new replacements. Of course I sent a letter with him! It was about 2 days before he returned and it took another day or two for me to get the new parts in, weld up the crack in the housing and get the vehicle running again.
And next time I went to town one of my first stops was at the garage to settle my bill. It was great that the Mission and its missionaries had such a reputation that services could be rendered with the assurance all debts would be promptly paid. Again, a testimony of God’s grace through the faithfulness of His servants over many years.