This time our return trip to our adopted country was more challenging than previous times. As usual we drove through Yugoslavia in the night, approaching the Greek border as the day was dawning.
We’d followed a slow truck for many miles of zigzagging roads through the mountains and when a long straight stretch appeared, I immediately passed it, relieved to be able to drive at a reasonable speed. But shortly after I saw a police car beside the road and the driver flagged me down. He spoke some German and told me I’d passed in a no passing zone.
Technically he was right, I’d pulled out a few yards before the dotted line started, so I couldn’t object. “You must pay us a fine and it must be in Yugoslav Dinar,” the policeman said.
“I don’t have any Dinar, I said, “I’ll give you the equivalent in Euros.”
“No!” replied the policeman emphatically, “You must pay in Dinars. There’s a town 50 kilometers back there,” pointing the way we’d come, “Go there and get your Euros changed.”
It as about 6 am and after driving all night and being so tired, I was not interested in going back and waiting until the banks opened–although if I had, I might have avoided the difficulties that awaited me in Greece. In the end I convinced the policemen to take my Euros—the money went into their own pockets anyway, I’m sure—and we drove on.
After having a picnic breakfast under a tree by a river, we decided to make a short detour and visit Philippi, the place where Paul and Silas had been jailed and then freed by an earthquake. I love to “touch history” like that.
We were back on the road by about 10 am, driving on a very curvy two-lane road along the sea. There were almost no shoulders and on the right side was a drop off into the ocean with no guardrail. Two motorcyclists passed us, riding with no shirts on. “Protect them, Lord,” I prayed.
Very shortly after this I saw a puff of smoke come from the left front tire of an oncoming Mercedes, and suddenly that car veered into our lane. We were going to have a head-on collision!
By the Lord’s grace, I whipped the steering wheel to the right—usually I just freeze in such a situation—and was able to avoid a direct hit. The Mercedes struck our VW’s driver side right at the headlight and proceeded to crush in the side all the way to the back.
We were thrown around and spun off the road on the sea side—but here, instead of a drop off into the water, there was a large parking area! Our car came to rest just short of a large concrete pillar planted on the edge of the area. What protection from the Lord!
When the car stopped, Nat’s voice came from the back, “Daddy, why did it snow?” The impact had caused all the windows on the right side to disintegrate into small white pieces of glass that looked to him like snow.
My glasses were gone, slung over to the floor on the other side; we had to find those so I could see to proceed. Josh’s arm was bleeding, cut by the glass, and I had a particle in my good eye.
The driver who had been behind us came up to the car and offered to take Josh to the hospital. So he and I went while Barbara and Nat stayed with the car. The doctor sewed up Josh’s cut, but didn’t use any anesthesia, and Josh let him know that it hurt!
While waiting for us, Barbara turned on the tape in the car and it began playing a hymn, “Trust In Jesus.” She was encouraged.
The driver of the Mercedes also stayed and talked with her. It turned out he was a Greek who worked in Germany in a city very near Barbara’s hometown. His tire had blown out and there was nothing he could do to prevent the accident He very sorry for the damage, especially since he had grandchildren Nat and Josh’s ages.
When I got back from the hospital, we gathered up our luggage that had been thrown off the roof rack by the impact, and I put it into the back of the car. Although the right rear wheel was bent at quite an angle, the car was still drivable. The man who hit us helped us find a place to stay and put us in touch with a friend whose son was a body man.
God’s hand was so obvious in all that happened. The village near where this accident occurred had many Greeks who spoke the language of our adopted country so we could communicate with no problem.
We found a reasonable place to stay right on the beach and spent a rather pleasant 8 days waiting for the car to be repaired. And the hotel bill was all paid for by the German Touring Club, as we were members. God’s provision again!
Picture: our car after the accident.