We’ll call last week the “spitting-snake week,” plus three other slithering incidents…
Picture this, if you will. The yard around The Luke Commission’s rented home base in Manzini, Eswatini, is fenced and guarded 24 hours a day. No one comes in without Harry and Echo’s knowledge and approval.
But last Sunday afternoon, an uninvited guest – a 30-inch spitting cobra – broke security. The boys were outside playing while Harry and Echo were inside taking a nap after a week of late-night clinics. The guard spotted the snake sitting on its haunches ready to strike 20 feet from the front door.
The critter’s spit is feared in the bush, because the spitting cobra aims for the eyes and blinds his victims. The guard approached the snake from behind and beat it with a tree branch.
That was just the week’s beginning. A couple of days later, the big white van which has pulled the big trailer stopped working. It cannot be repaired.
One day when The Luke Commission team disembarks from the vehicles to ease the large trailer over a gulley, a baby goat jumps out of the thicket. Zion could not resist catching it, if for just a moment.
A crowd gathers to hear Harry’s instructions for today’s mobile clinic.
“We thank God this did not happen sooner,” said Dr. Harry VanderWal. “We thought it would, as The Luke Commission team has driven farther and farther into the corners of Eswatini.”
In the last four years, the 1997 Toyota has carried three tons of people, equipment, and supplies some 60,000 miles over mountains too high to climb and over roads too rough to traverse. Without divine intervention and protection, that is.
“Sometimes we have trouble figuring out where the road is,” noted Echo. “Sometimes it’s just a path or a field.”
What’s an 8-year-old’s take on these rides to the bush? “Where the road ends, the adventure begins,” declares Luke VanderWal.
The Luke Commission support-teams in North America and Eswatini expected a grant this year for new vehicles. Matching funds are sitting in a bank account awaiting approval. In the last month, however, we found out that this grant will not come to fruition.
An elderly Liswati’s life is transformed when he’s fitted in a wheelchair from PET International distributed by TLC
This is a familiar scene as TLC team travels to the remotest areas of Eswatini. The vehicle which pulls this larger of two trailers has been sidelined after four years of service.
When The Luke Commission’s dilemma surfaced, a young American missionary couple offered their vehicle for two scheduled clinics. “We’ve never missed a clinic,” said Echo. The Luke Commission’s other vehicles are not strong enough to pull the larger trailer.
The second slithering situation was a car crash Thursday morning. As Echo made a right turn in heavy downtown Manzini traffic (similar to a left turn here), a Liswati driver passed and smashed into Echo’s passenger side. She was alone and not hurt but spent three hours in the police station.
The other driver was at fault, but the officer eventually decided that each driver would pay for his or her own damage. That way, the officer did not take “the white lady’s side.”
The third snake-in-the-grass incident this week involves Luke Commission luggage at the Manzini airport. The problem: getting the bags released. Echo spent two hours one day and two hours the next day trying to claim two bags.
“Everyone knows me at the Manzini airport. They know what we do and why we’re here,” Echo said. “I can submit to any requirements that are reasonable, but their demands…”
Operation Christmas Child boxes are ready to be opened in the summer (winter there) by Liswati children, many of whom have never before received a gift.
Eager patients line up for free services even before the trailer is unpacked. Note the red and grey Noah on the left. It has seen better days and needs to be replaced forthwith.
Finally, Echo had to elicit the assistance of a friend in the Liswati Parliament.
“If those bags had been for us personally, I would have walked away and let the officials have them, but the contents are functional pieces to make TLC successful,” she explained.
For instance, one bag this week held new covers especially made and donated to protect the medications, eyeglasses, and medical supplies from bush dust which seeps into the trailers.
“This latest airport dilemma makes me even more thankful to The Luke Commission volunteers in Ohio who recently loaded a 40-foot container with items we need or have run out of. That container is now on its way here by ship,” Echo said.
While it’s been one of those weeks in Eswatini, Friday’s clinic was amazing! A borrowed vehicle and the rather weary VanderWals did not stop people from accepting Jesus Christ as their Savior or receiving doctoring for their physical pains.
Most Liswati roads do not have this sort of warning and are still full of pot holes. Such a sign is ominous but does not stop The Luke Commission. Thank you, Jesus!
TLC team is prepared for another mobile clinic. The vehicles which transport them, however, are no longer road worthy.
The boys carried around the dead cobra for two days. It was their prize.
The adults in The Luke Commission received a prize, too. The work goes on!
What are a few snakes-in-the-grass in the process?
Love in Jesus, Janet Tuinstra for Harry and Echo and the boys
P.S. Jesus said in Matthew 7:10-12: If your son “asks for a fish, will you give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him! So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you…”