I walked downstairs in the morning drizzle, my mind racing with all the things I need to do in the next week and a half. A week from tomorrow, si Dios quiere, I’ll be flying to the U.S. for Christmas vacation.
Although I’m excited, I haven’t really had much time to think about my trip, as we’ve been wrapping up our year in El Callejon. After ‘wedding week’ last week, we’ve turned our attention to planning for 2013. The week after we return, we have two back-to-back two weeks teams, so we need our schedules ready. We’re also hoping to start a couple of new groups, as well as continue with the existing ones.
So… as I said, lots on my mind! Yesterday I had to put some air in one of my tires. It’s one I put air in a couple of months ago, so I figured it was just a really slow leak. This morning, however, it was completely flat. Not a leak, a nail.
I know how to fix a flat, but with super tight bolts, and a less than great jack, I made a call to our Director, Brian, who lives nearby. He was already at work, but got Wilan, one of the men who works at the SI Base, to come and help. It took a while, as he had other things to do.
As I waited, I chatted a bit to Doña Gloria, who told me about all the robberies taking place in the area. I talked with Maria about the rain and her son’s First Communion. I read some of the Codgo de Trabajo (DR Employment Law) for a policy manual project I’m working on.
And, my brain kept racing. What about my Sara, my semester student, sitting at the Base waiting for me? What’s happening in El Callejon? Why is it taking so long? What does ‘nula’ mean (by then I was reading the Codigo!)?
I tried to remind myself that I was better off than many people at that very moment. After all, I had eaten breakfast, had lunch in my bag, was clothed – with a raincoat and boots, even!, and not in any danger. Much of the world cannot say the same right now!
But, it didn’t help. I grew more frustrated, and as the rain started again in earnest, I felt mighty sorry for myself.
Wilan came, and promptly switched my tire to my bald, dry-rotted spare, and I headed to the Gomero (where gomas (tires), are fixed, as well as other minor car stuff). As I was talking to the guy about the tire and its nail, another guy walked up and pointed at my front tires. Sus frenos no sirven.
I knew freno was the word for "brake". And no sirven meant "they don’t serve", or don’t work. This wasn’t good news. Every so often I’d heard them squeaking, but I hadn’t given it much thought. You’ve got about two days left, he told me. Are you going into the mountains at all? That last might have been a joke, as we live in Jarabacoa, which is in a valley completely surrounded by mountains!
As they worked (and worked and worked!) I sent up a prayer of thanks to God. Because of that flat tire, I found out about my brakes. The roads here are almost all curvy and hilly, especially the way to the airport, where I’m headed next week. Since Jarabacoa is in a valley, we first climb up, up, up out of it, and then down, down, down, down a steep mountain road. The thought of doing that with failing brakes… Wow, God is good!!
Of course, nothing here is ever simple! Whoever last changed my tires used the wrong sized bolts, forcing them on so hard that one was completely stripped. The guys spent nearly an hour trying to pry it off, and finally (with my permission) whacked it, then took a welding gun to finish destroying it. A quick 10-minute job will now (hopefully!) be done in four hours.
I left them to it and walked home, still praising God. I realize that a flat tire shouldn’t have got me so frustrated to start with. The truth is, anything car-related stresses me out, since it’s all so foreign. Add car repairs in another country and language, and it is triple awful. But, despite all of my frustration, God allowed me to be in that situation to alert me to something far worse.
What's true of car problems is also true of other, much bigger troubles in life. God promises that He is at work in ALL things. When I am going through something I simply cannot understand, I tend cry out to God to make it go away. If He had made my flat tire 'go away' I never would have learned the danger of my brakes.
I pray that the next time I get irritated and anxious, instead of whining, I will remember this lesson, and praise God for how He will use it for my good and His glory. Not after the fact, but in anticipation!