It was Friday morning and the crew from Gimbie Hospital had piled into the back of the hospital’s ambulance, ready to head back to Gimbie. They had spent a productive morning at the Mugi Clinic, treating eye patients and delivering paychecks to the clinic workers. They even had time to catch a few butterflies for a research project before they left.
Along the way, the group stopped at the Gulisso Clinic to offer their help. Since mangoes were in season, they happily loaded the ambulance with sweet fruit from the trees that surrounded the clinic. Now it was time to head back to Gimbie.
All went well until there was a sudden bang! The staff members were thrown around the back of the ambulance. Mangoes flew in all directions. They were used to having flat tires on bad roads, but this seemed worse. Had they hit something?
Soon Mark realized that the ambulance’s steel crossbar had become unbolted from jarring over too many potholes. This was bad news. Mark and Yohannis began to set a jack in place while the others went back over the muddy road to look for the missing bolt. Carefully they searched for the bolt, even using sticks to swish through mud puddles.
Then the jack slipped and cut off the tip of Yohannis’s finger. Kirsten immediately began first aid, and they realized very quickly that Yohannis needed to go to the hospital right away. But the ambulance wasn’t drivable! They prayed for a solution and discussed what they should do. All at once, a sleek new car drove up and stopped beside them. The window rolled down and a well-dressed Ethiopian man in sunglasses asked if they needed a ride. Petra, Kirsten, and Yohannis climbed into the car. The others would remain with the ambulance, completely on their own with no cell phone reception.
But a few hours later the ambulance rumbled into the compound! Mark told them that shortly after the shiny car left for the hospital, some of the villagers began offering various tools and materials to help fix the ambulance. By the grace of God, he was able to repair the vehicle just enough to get it home.
Before reaching the hospital, as they drove through another small village, a crowd of people swarmed into the road, waving for them to stop. A sudden thunderstorm had just swept through the area. Five men huddling together under a tree for shelter had been struck by lightning. They were still alive, but they needed urgent medical care. The broken ambulance had arrived in their village just in time. The patients were taken to the hospital in Gimbie, where they received care. And everyone else was back too—safe and sound.
Paul and Petra Howe served as volunteer missionaries at Gimbie Hospital in Ethiopia.
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I don’t remember much from those days. But one thing I will never forget. In the midst of my suffering and doubting, God reached me with just one electrifying realization.
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