The next morning, after a breakfast of freshly baked French-type bread, white cheese and tea, we piled back into the car and began our slow trek up through the mountains.
The transmission whined and complained, the worn gears fought against the pressure I put on the gearshift, but by afternoon we had made it down the mountainside and into the city.
Charles got directions to the car repair area–the locals tend to group all the same businesses together in one spot—and we found a repair shop that advertised repairs on VW’s.
I pulled in and we all got out. Charles explained to the mechanic what the problem was; he pulled the car into his garage and went down into the pit underneath it.
After about fifteen minutes, he came back up, wiping his hands on an oily rag. “Sorry to tell you this, but you need a new transmission. You won’t find any new gears here and it would cost more to replace them than it will for a new transmission.”
Well, that put us on a new track! Again the Spirit called on me to give thanks, and I did. I asked the mechanic to take the transmission out of the car because I knew I’d have to surrender it to customs in order to get the new one I’d ordered from Germany.
Charles suggested that he go on by bus with his own two plus our three “adopted” children to deliver them to their father. He took their luggage and, after we’d all said our good-byes, left for the bus station.
While we were making those arrangements, a local woman had come over to see what these foreigners were doing in her city—not many came to this Eastern area. When we explained to her what had happened, she invited us to come and visit her home, which was right across the street.
This was such an unexpected thing, and at the same time, as we were to learn, so typical of local hospitality. We spent the afternoon with her, then that night got on a bus along with our defunct transmission for the twelve-hour return trip to our city.
Since we were members of the German Touring Club, I called them and they arranged to have a refurbished transmission shipped to me. It took a week to arrive. When customs called to say it was there, I took a bus out to the airport, dragging along the old transmission.
As the customs agent went through the paper work, he said, “Our warehouse is full, so I won’t take your old transmission. I’ll write it in your passport and the next time you leave the country you can take it with you.”
I objected. I already had one transmission to take back with me on the city bus; how was I supposed to drag two along?
However, the agent insisted that I keep it. And unbeknownst to me, this agent was also an agent of God, protecting me from a big mistake. It was another chance to trust God when I didn’t know why He orchestrated this.
That evening we got back on the bus to the East and spent another long night of sitting in uncomfortable seats, having our light sleep interrupted by “rest breaks” as well as stops to pick up new passengers.
We arrived groggy and tired; while we were transferring to a taxi, Nat stepped into a hole in the road filled with raw sewage.
We got to the repair shop just as the owner was opening up. He looked at the new transmission, then looked at me, “Where’s the old one? I need to get several parts off of it in order to install the new one!”
“I left it in my city.”
“Well, you have to go back and get it; you’ll never find those parts here!”
My first response was, “Oh no!” But the Spirit then led me again to offer the sacrifice of thanksgiving. God had a plan here and I was about to see some of it unfold.
Picture of a car like ours that we had come with 11 passengers!