Published: August 23rd 2011August 23rd 2011
Back in 2006, the six Jensens spent the month of May in Malawi. We had been duly warned that Africa might "get into your blood." We had been considering a move to a foreign mission field for quite some time and the time spent with Ed and Lina Crookshank helped propel our decision to work in East Africa. Doors seemed to open smoothly for us to move to Tanzania in April of 2007. Again in 2009, Ed requested my help in teaching for a month. Jacob and I flew from the Kilimanjaro airport to Lilongwe, where we taught for the month of August.
Now, two years later, the Crookshanks requested that I teach personal evangelism to the usual five locations. We chose to teach for only two weeks on this occasion, largely due to the fact that we did not want to be away from the work in Iringa for a longer amount of time. Since we now live in central Tanzania, we decided to drive to Lilongwe, 1) because of cost and 2) because that meant the whole family could make the trip.
Not long before our departure we learned from Ed that the whole country was suffering
a fuel crisis. Fuel is scarce and when fuel is available the lines stretch far down the road as patrons clamor to get some either in a vehicle or in a can. In preparation, I took our 4 jerrycans and filled them with diesel to have on board, along with filling both tanks on the Land Cruiser. A couple of days before leaving, Tanzania also began to have fuel issues. Thankfully I had already filled the vehicle and cans.
Friday morning, August 12 we rolled out of bed at 2:00 in the morning and hit the road at 3:00 a.m. Our two nine-inch auxiliary lights lit up the deserted road as we headed south in the cool, wee hours of the morning. As we neared the border we thought we should try to top off our tank. The first station said they had no fuel; this was a lie. They simply did not want to sell at the government's recently mandated lower price. The second station also initially refused. However, after some amount of pleading the station attendant called her superior, which resulted in four vehicles being allowed to receive fuel. Thankfully we were one of the four!
We reached the border around 8:30 a.m.. I will spare you all of the frustrating details. Suffice it to say - it took about two hours to get the vehicle paperwork completed and our passports stamped, both of which were required on both the Tanzanian side and the Malawi side.
The remainder of our journey was uneventful, although it did include unavoidably hitting a dog and the occasional police checkpoints. Needless to say, as the hours ticked slowly away, I became quite fatigued. As the sun began to set we could see the outskirts of Lilongwe. When we reached the Crookshanks, our GPS indicated that our driving time was just over 14 hours and a distance of 1056 kilometers! Counting our time at the border - 16 hours. When I peeled myself from the driver's seat and planted my feet on the ground I felt dizzy. Like many of you, I have driven this many hours (or more) in the States. All I can say is there is no comparison. We thanked God for our safe arrival.
Stay tuned for part 2!