Important Preamble! (If you have already read this, you can skip down to the story)
We love the precious people the Lord has placed in our lives in Africa. We have been very blessed by watching them learn and grow and train others. Most of you know this, but the reality of how cultures function is quite different than what you have thought—cultures are very different from each other. These cultural differences create humorous (Some of them were not humorous at the time but are now!) anecdotes. We have compiled some of these into a series of short stories that we are posting. As you read these and imagine the scenarios we have experienced, laugh with us at what we experienced. We are not making fun of anyone, but are laughing at ourselves and the differences between cultures. Maybe a story will help you understand better the reality of how other people live. You should not feel guilty about this because the Lord God placed you where you are. At the same time, we should all be aware that what we experience in America may not be as difficult as what most people in the world experience every day. Enjoy.
Taxis in Africa—This Ain’t New York!
Our bus had broken down (again!!). We had flagged down a mini van which was already packed with people and belongings, but they somehow jammed Ann, me, our interpreter and our luggage into it. We were grateful because other people would have to wait for hours to get to where they were going. The mini van took us to the main station which was gratefully only a fifteen minute ride. We grabbed a taxi to take us to the town where we would be training pastors and Sunday School teachers, a village in the mountains of Tanzania called Ngara. We paid a higher than normal fee and got into the car. Soon, the car seemed very full—4 people in the back seat, I was in the passenger front seat and a guy was straddling the gear shift, with most of one cheek on my seat and then the taxi driver in the front. The driver gets paid by each person in the car, and there is simply not enough transportation for everyone. I was thinking that I could probably survive (Don’t forget that I am 6 foot 2 inches and 200 pounds. My knees always hit whatever or whomever is in front of me.) We drive for 2 minutes when the taxi driver pulls over. He speaks the local language with a guy who then opens my car door. He was expecting me to move over. Move over where? I have no idea. I didn’t budge. When I figured out what was being asked of me, I reached over, grabbed the door handle and shut my door again. There was no way I was moving over to sit under or on top of someone. The driver grumbled at me loudly (thankfully I didn’t understand the language) and told the guy to come over to his side. The new passenger got in, shoving the guy who was straddling the gear shift further into my seat while he sat with one cheek on the driver’s seat and one hanging over the gear shift. The driver got back in and draped one arm over this new passenger’s shoulder and somehow shut his door. He had to reach his hand under the new passenger’s leg to shift into gear and we were off for the 45 minutes of great discomfort! This ain’t a taxi in New York!