Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Taxi Ride




Me & Joanna

{If you haven't checked out her blog then you should!
She is a dear friend & a voice for the voiceless}

Joanna - Asking With Faith

________________________


For awhile I have been wanting to share this story with you.

At first it was to scary - when reality set in,

so I gave it some time.

But now I want to take you back to another place and another time.

May 3rd, 2013

The reality of life here is sometimes crazy and well, wonderful at the same time.

Some moments you realize you are living in a foreign country where you don't know the language.

Some days you forget, it just seems as if you fit.

Other days you realize the reality of living far away from your loved ones.

______________________________________

Now back to my story :

May 3rd, 2013.

A wonderful day for many reasons.

My dearest friend Joanna was arriving in Uganda!

Daylight dawned a rainy and cold day.

By 10am we were headed back from the airport as it poured rain.

As we journeyed back toward Kampala, I was sharing with her
how I'd been asked to meet up for dinner tonight with a friend -
 who was soon heading back to the States after leading a 4 month mission trip.

~

As it approached dinner time I got a phone call saying they'd
be heading for dinner soon so we needed to get to the restaurant.
I convinced Joanna to join us.

 I quickly dialed the man {who has now become a dear friend}
who normally drives us...

And it rang and rang...

With only having about 25 minutes until dinner.

I raced to get everything together..

Finally I reached my friend and he shared how he wouldn't be able to come.

The people at the gas station had put the wrong kind of gas in and they were draining it.

At that point I realized we wouldn't make it if we kept waiting for a car.

It was getting dark so we quickly grabbed our things and
 went outside to pick up a boda {motorcycle}.

I negotiated a price and we hopped on laughing as we weaved through traffic.

I just love having these moments with sweet friends.

The surreal reality of having friends visit you in Uganda is wonderful.

As we rode to our destination we talked about how things couldn't get worse -
having just lost our driver for the night.

Of course this was only a joke at the time.

As we pulled closer to our destination and weaving through even more traffic,

I pointed and told the boda driver to just drop us at the curb and we'd walk.

{Better to avoid the traffic I thought.}

As we pulled up Joanna hopped off from the back and I quickly slid off from the middle.

But when my feet touched the ground it sunk in...

Yes my foot was covered in thick dark mud.

Joanna burst out laughing at the ridiculousness of the situation.

She said "You know you shouldn't say it can't get worse,
haha because it always does."

I laughed and groaned.

I couldn't go to dinner with mud all over my feet.

We walked a ways and we pulled out napkins and cleaned up...

Eventually we made it to dinner.

And we weren't even late :}
Yep he was waiting at the door for us!

We talked and laughed and had a really good time.

As it got later into the evening I was able to call the driver again and indeed
 he would possibly be able to take us home.

Our dinner continued with us chatting about our different experiences of Uganda.
It was really fun to be out at night with sweet friends.

The night progressed and eventually we made our way outside to chat
some more while a few of us grabbed ice cream...

They offered for us to ride with them so instead of waiting another
hour we decided that would be the quickest way home -
so we decided to go for it.

Unfortunately when their taxi arrived - we didn't all fit.

So Joanna and I said goodbye and waited for our driver.

As they pulled out of the parking lot, I reached into my purse for my cell phone.

I needed to let the driver know we were ready to go home.

But when I dialed his number - there was one problem.

I was out of airtime.

Again - I groaned.

We walked around the little mall/parking lot and went to the airtime store.

Only they were closed.

Ugh.

Remember that comment I made at the start of the night?

Yep. Joanna was quick to remind me.

"Things can't get any worse.." she laughed.

We talked and decided we would just hail a random taxi in the parking lot.

After all I reasoned,
"We are two girls alone and these guys work with foreigners all the time.
They must be safe..."

Or so we thought...

We went over to a car with an open window and I asked for a price?

He agreed on 20,000 schillings.
{which was expensive since my house wasn't very far away}.

But it was dark outside and there were no bodas around anymore.

We climbed in as Joanna looked over at me.
Her eyes were asking,
 "Do you really think this is okay?"

I nodded and then he pulled out of the parking lot.

He never made eye contact with me as I told him where to drive.
Only when he pulled out of the parking lot - he didn't turn the right way.
I told him he needed to turn around.

Only he kept driving.

I insisted.

He kept driving.

Then he did something I will never forget.

He pulled off of the main road..

{To my advantage I know Kampala like the back of my hand.
Thanks to walking the city most days.}

As he pulled off the main road I told him to turn around again.

I insisted how he was driving us the wrong way!

He half shouted/ half yelled
"Don't you think I know where I am taking you?!"

That was where my mind clicked on.

He knew where he was taking us.

Uh-oh.

Which could only mean one thing.

He wasn't taking us home.

As I continued to lose sight of the main road,

 I told him again to turn around.

This time he got really angry.

He jerked on the steering wheel making us swerve on the road and I slid down my seat.

I panicked.

He wasn't taking us home.

Then he said something so significant.

That brought the light on in my head.

He yelled,

"What do you think - that I am going to hurt you?"
"You think I can hurt you?!"

We knew we had to get out of this taxi and quickly.

I started to rack my brain for a way out of the taxi.

If I leaned on my door just right and pushed on Joanna we both might roll out of the car.

We'd hit the ground hard - but we could run..

He continued driving only he got more reckless as we drove further.

The farther we got I realized how deserted the area was.

People were far and few.

We were in a little village dirt road.

Far from town by now.

I thought of the only thing that came to my mind at the moment.

I blurted out "I need to buy water, we have to go the other way!"

He shouted back at me,

"How long are you going to take? That will cost you more."

Yet he never turned around.

Thats when I did something I won't ever regret.

I LIED.

I calmly but firmly told him I had just got a text and forgot that
 I was suppose to give my guy friend a ride home...I went on and on...

I shared how my friend would be really angry with me if I didn't pick him up.

I fussed as if Joanna knew the whole plot.

Only we communicated with silence and our eyes.

Then he jerked on the steering wheel again.

We swerved a 360 degree angle and went to pull into a gate.

I panicked again and thought I was going to be sick.

Here we were in the middle of the night. 

Alone on a dirt road with a stranger.

Nobody knew where we were.

When we'd hugged our friends goodbye they thought we were waiting for our driver.

No one would know we were missing for a very long time.
And I was completely out of air time.

"Jesus I prayed -  please, please protect us."

Then with one last jerk on the steering wheel he turned around.

My pulse continued to race as we drove back closer to town.

The driver only continued to get more angry.

As we sped back to town.

He drove recklessly and at one point even came close to hitting someone.

I've never seen a better sight - then a familiar building standing tall.

We pulled into the parking lot and we dove out of the car.

He shouted again saying I owed him even more.

I threw the money at him and ran.

Shaking - Joanna and I walked into the mall.

I couldn't help but think about God's protection.

And how close we had come to having something serious
 happen to one or both of us.

After awhile we walked upstairs to another airtime store and tried to buy some.

Only they also were closed.

People were sweeping up the mall as it was closing time.

As we looked up I saw a coffee shop that was just closing up.

We raced over and bought a water and asked if they sold airtime.

She said no.

Then we asked if by any chance she would let us borrow her phone?

She looked around to make sure no one was looking and handed us her cell phone.

I quickly dialed my friend and told him what had happened and
asked if he could come pick us up?!

His car now repaired, he said he would be there immediately.

Finally we climbed into his car and slowly headed home.

Relief hit me.

We had been rescued.

So close to destruction.

But God had watched over us once again.

Remember our saying from earlier?

Things couldn't get any worse.

But apparently they can.

I won't be using that phrase anymore.

As we drove home my driver-friend shared about how lately taxi drivers
 have been pretending to be exactly that: taxi drivers.

They would drive their riders off the beaten path.

Beat them...
Sometimes worse then that and even take everything they had, 
including their clothes.

My driver-friend said if he could get his hands on our taxi driver he would beat him.

But that wasn't necessary.

Because once again God was faithful.

He watched over us.

God even protected us when we hadn't made the best decisions.

I am so thankful for God's protection!

If the Lord should bring us to mind,
as we minister here in Uganda, 
please pray for us. 
We always need it.

11 comments:

The Keierleber Family said...

Terrifying! Continued prayers and praising God!

Natalia G said...

i seriously have goosebumps, emma. praise the Lord ya'll are safe. such a scary experience. God is truly with you.

also, on another note, are you fluent in their language?

just curious :)

RaD said...

Seriously Girl, my heart started pounding while I was reading this. I am so thankful you are safe. It's one of the many things I wondered about when you said you were moving. However, we serve a BIG GOD and if HE called you to this then HE'LL protect you too. So awesome you are living that dream.

But you must keep your mama on her knees! I'll be sure I'm praying for you, and your team, and your son, much more often than I have been. Sorry for that and thank you for the wake up call. Prayers much needed. ;)

bytheriver said...

Em- thought of you driving home today and said a prayer for your safety - clearly its needed. It was approx. 5:30 pacific time. I ended up in that kind of situation once, with a friend, driven to the back of an industrial area by a river in Los Angeles, late at night. It had been our only way home. But we weren't going home. Actually that happened twice - both times - fast talking and prayer saved the day - try to avoid this in the future - purchase extra air time at all opportunity.

Mom Of Many said...

"The angel of the Lord encamps round about those who fear Him, and He rescues them." Ps. 34:7

I cling to that day in and day out. I also cling to the fact that He never, ever, not even for a single second sleeps. Thank you Jesus.

As always, we miss you so much and we love you to beyond the moon and back.

I love you!! xo

Joy said...

So thankful for God's protection and I will be praying for you!

robin said...

That is so much worse than the taxi drive where you were gonna use the soda bottle as a weapon! So glad He was watching and you guys got back safely! As a mom of girls your age, of course, I'm thinking...have lots of airtime (like a full tank of gas during hurricane season in Florida)...just in case you need it in a pinch like that! So glad you guys thought quickly and prevented something unthinkable from happening!

Anonymous said...

The gift of fear by Gavin DeBecker a book that I strongly believe that you need to read! Glad that you are safe! From Elizabeth

Alva said...

This is cool!

Grady Mann said...

Aww. That was really a terrifying experience. I hope that you didn’t develop any fear of riding a taxi. It’s sad that there are such taxi drivers, but let's not generalize. Most of them are still great people. They consider it a good job even if they only earn little from it.
Grady Mann @ Downtown Yellow Taxi

Sabra Divis said...

That was a really scary experience! It was good that you were able to think quickly and got yourself out of trouble. I believe you were blessed because you have a pure heart. I hope you are fine now.

Sabra Divis