Yes, it’s raining but not too hard. The main mbuga (swamp) has some water in it but not very deep. With the Land Rover we can safely make our way across. We better make a trip to town to get supplies because when the “long rains” come, there is no way we could get across. And travel will be curtailed for at least the following 4 months.
So we go. Shopping in the late morning hours after we arrive, lunch at the mission guest house, shopping in the early afternoon and, about 3 p.m. with the vehicle well loaded, we start for home about 70 miles away – so we should be there by sun-down.
BUT in the area above the swamp, to the east, it had rained hard while we were in town. All that water had flowed into the swamp filling it up to about a thigh-high depth. BUT, we had to get home. No way could we wait for it to go down. That might be months from now!
During the previous rains, loaded trucks had navigated the swamp leaving ruts where they had passed. Some had gotten stuck in the mud and had to be jacked up and dug out, leaving pits and depressions where they had been. Now I had to navigate across and I had no idea where those deep holes were.
As in every situation like that, one does just now “plow across” unless they have a reasonable expectation of making it. Park the vehicle, get out and take off your shoes and socks, roll up your trousers and “feel out” the best way through the water and grass. And that I did.
Oops! I stepped into one of those holes. The water came up to my waist. Grabbing some of the stalks of grass growing nearby, I knotted them together at the top end. Now, that would be the sign of an area to avoid. Across the swamp I went, stepping in holes, knotting grass and charting a way across.
Sopping wet, back at the Land Rover, I removed the fan-belt to keep the fan from turning. That would keep the fan from flooding the engine when it hits the water. Grease was smeared over the spark plug wires where they connected to the plugs. The same was done to the distributor cap. I had not yet been able to get the water-proofing kit that the British army used on its Land Rovers.
O.K., time to go! 4-wheel drive, low range, was engaged. First gear was engaged and I plowed in. My eyes were on those tied-together tufts of grass and I managed to avoid the holes. With a sigh of relief and thanks to God we rolled up and out on the other side, none the worse for the ordeal. In short order the fan belt was put back on and the final seven miles to home were uneventful. We arrived just as the sun was going down and the chickens were heading back into their coop. Carol whipped up a quick supper and by about 9 p.m. we were in bed. Another day. Another experience. Another evidence of God’s care.
And, in case you think this happened only once, we lived out in that area for over 7 years and each year during the rains had to experience a variation of this story. The roads across the swamps were never improved during our time living out there in Salawe.