Paul and Petra Howe are missionaries in Ethiopia. Paul is the chief executive officer of the Adventist hospital in Gimbie. Managing the daily business of the hospital keeps him extremely busy. Petra is a chaplain and spends her days visiting patients, and offering encouragement and prayers. In this story, a normal workday turns into an unusual adventure.
It was a Friday morning, and the crew from the 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. They had treated a number of eye patients and delivered paychecks to the clinic workers. They even had time to catch a few butterflies for a research project before they left.
Along the way, they stopped at the Gulisso Clinic to offer their help. Since mangoes were in season, they happily loaded the ambulance with sweet fruit from the abundant 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 much worse. Had they hit something?
Soon they realized that a steel crossbar had become unbolted from jarring over too many potholes. This was bad news. Mark and Yohannis began to set the 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, hoping to find the missing part.
Meanwhile, the jack slipped and cut off the tip of Yohannis’ 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 fervently 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 expensive sunglasses asked if they needed a ride. Petra and Kirsten helped Yohannis into the car. As they were leaving Mark shouted that if they didn’t have the ambulance back to Gimbie by Sunday afternoon, someone still needed to pick them up. There was no cell phone reception, so they would be completely on their own.
Only a couple of hours later, who should come rumbling into the compound but Mark and the other members of the crew. They weren’t alone. Shortly after the shiny new 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, Mark was able to repair the vehicle just enough to get it home.
Before reaching the hospital, as they clattered 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 who had huddled 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.