Ah! Travel in Tanzania had its challenges. Corrugated dirt roads; high (deep) water; mud, mud, and more mud (during the rains) dust, dust and more dust (during the dry season)!; cattle on the road; people trying to flag you down, hoping for a ride; bicycles, lorries (trucks) that don’t want to move over; dumb sheep on one side of the road which suddenly decide the other side is better.
At that time I had a Volks Beetle. A trip was being taken to go to another mission station and, besides my wife, two other missionary ladies were with us in the car. For some reason, it was almost sundown as were going along. Up ahead, on a long stretch of clear road, I saw a vehicle parked off to the side. Several men were milling around it. As we got closer, they moved out onto the road and tried to wave me down so I stopped. Their report was that they had run out of petrol (gasoline) and wanted to know if I had any extra.
I did have a jerrycan of petrol which was in the luggage area of the VW. And you know that the luggage area is up front, under the bonnet (hood) of a VW Beetle. I hadn’t told them yet that I had some fuel but, as we were talking through the driver’s-side window, I noticed several men had moved into position both in front and in back of the VW. I was sure they were up to something.
Quickly I closed the window and locked the door. I put the car in gear and slowly moved forward, pushing the men in front aside. They hammered on the top of the car as I gather speed but I kept on going and left them all behind. As I got clear of them and down the road a bit I looked into my rear view mirror and saw them get back into their vehicle, turn it around, and start up the road in the direction from which I had just come. It was evident they didn’t really need any petrol and were probably up to “no good”!
But, dear softhearted Margaret in the backseat said, “Why didn’t you give them any gas?” It took a lot of explanation, plus some support from other occupants of the car who had noticed the happenings, to convince her that I had done the right thing – and that the Lord our God had again protected us from what appeared to be the actions of evil men.