Thursday, May 26, 2016

The Night of My Accident

Throughout the years living and driving in Africa, I have often thought and remarked that driving here is a bit like a Mario Kart game. Dodging potholes is only half the fun. The more unpredictable obstacles are the goats, chickens, cows, pikis (motorcycle taxis), bodas (bicycle taxis), wheelbarrows, and pedestrians. Everyday, driving is a challenge and and adventure. However, somedays the reality of the real-life impact of failing to successfully maneuver these obstacles is driven home. For me, one of those days was 2 weeks ago and everyday since.

As I was driving home from Kamonkoli one evening, the sun had set and it was just beginning to get pretty dark. I was passing through a busy market center on the outskirts of Mbale with people, bicycles, and motorcycles swarming everywhere. I remember seeing a man approaching on bicycle going in the opposite direction. Without any warning at all, he suddenly swerved into a u-turn directly in front of me. I barely had time to even touch the brake before he was on my windshield and the glass was shattering over me. From the impact, I couldn’t imagine that the man had survived. Immediately, people and pikis started swarming the accident site.

I knew from stories of other missionaries and drivers in Uganda that whenever an accident happens, the driver must leave the scene and go directly to the closest police station. If the car is disabled, or the driver stops, the mob that gathers is very likely to injure or kill the driver. Most of the time, they won’t even wait to find out what happened, who was at fault, or even if the injured parties have survived or died. They just react. Some mobs have even been known to start stoning the driver before they exit the car, or set the car on fire.

So with my windshield shattered across the drivers’s side, I carefully drove the half mile up to the police station. It was terrifying. I can only thank Jesus for keeping me safe the rest of the way through heavy traffic, with limited visibility and the adrenaline of trauma still pulsing through my body.

When I walked into the station to report the accident, I was covered from head to foot in glass shards. I told the front desk what had happened, and they immediately called a police patrol close to the accident site to go and check the scene of the accident. I stayed at the station for a while waiting for my co-workers to join me from Kamonkoli. Soon after they came, the responding traffic officer also came.

Thankfully, he had been able to pick up the man from the scene and take him to the main hospital where he was conscious and being treated for his injuries. Throughout the rest of the week, my days were filled with sitting in the police station, visiting the patient, and negotiating with the family of the patient and the police. I am so thankful for Pastor Charles, our Assistant Director, and Bumba, one of my coworkers, who were there through the whole thing to advocate for me.

Even though the statement that the man later gave to the police confirmed that he was trying to execute a u-turn directly in front of me, since I was a white driver, I bore the entirety of the liability. Though it hardly seems fair when I was not the cause of the accident, I am constantly reminded of how much worse it could have been. I continually praise Jesus that the man survived, and actually didn’t even break a single bone! He was treated for several days at the hospital for a concussion and head laceration, as well as a dislocated knee cap. He’s recovering well, and everything has been settled and finished.

Sitting behind the wheel of my Rav4 is constantly a sobering thing now. I am daily reminded that if not for the intervention and protection of the Lord, I could be in an accident every day. Since Uganda has one of the highest rates of road accidents in the world, it is inevitable that even the best drivers will be involved in accidents.

Through the whole incident though, Jesus was so close and comforting. He surrounded me with wonderful people who loved and cared for me physically, spiritually, and emotionally. I was amazed at all the specific verses and words He gave people to speak over me, and the strength of His supernatural peace was extraordinary. I know that some of my Ugandan friends here were scared that going through such a trial (especially the unique challenges of dealing with the police and patient’s family) might turn my heart away from Uganda and make me want to leave. But the truth is, suffering and pain will happen in every place on earth. Here in Uganda, I have seen Jesus transform too much pain into works of beauty to doubt whether He will do it in every situation. He is so good!

For those of you who were aware of the situation through Facebook and friends, thank you so very much for praying for me! I felt the strength and the impact of those prayers every day.

1 comment:

  1. That really is one scary tale, I wonder why anyone white would ever consider driving there. If a mob can and will attack ma driver regardless who was at fault, I don't think I would ever get behind a wheel. Luckily for you he was only slightly injured or things could have really gotten bad for you in a hurry.