by Laurie-Ann Copple
We’ve had an interesting December. Part of it was a road trip holiday to Namibia, which was eventful just getting there. Then the drive around the country, and after Christmas, more car trouble, which ruined our part in a dear friend’s wedding. However, there were silver linings to these that showed the kindness of God. After all, even though things may seem really bad, we didn’t stop. We didn’t give up, and other kindnesses happened due to these events.
We were towed up Piekienierskloof Pass on the N7 to get access to cellphone signal. We needed it to call AA, so we could get a final tow to where our car would be fixed in Worcester. First, the kind owners of the Kardosie farm stall towed us up to the top. Later they were our hosts, and even let us rest in one of their rooms during loadshedding (a planned power outage). Then they treated us to a delicious chicken braai dinner. Thank you so much, Biana and Barthlo. They encouraged us that this wasn’t the end of our holiday, and we got an extra adventure of getting to know them. We were towed back, and rented a car the next day so we could go off to Namibia (and thankfully, our first host moved our stay so that we didn’t forfeit our lodgings). We persevered on to Namibia, among rough gravel roads that weren’t good for the rental Toyota, and were rewarded seeing the beautiful pinky-orange dunes among Sossusvlei and Deadvlei. We got to know the desert wildlife while on a four wheel drive, and outside our cottage, when a jackal wanted to investigate our garbage bin.
We persevered through a beautiful city of Windhoek and found their people warm and inviting. It was a bit different in Swakopmund, which is a very German arts town. We did have some times to stop for the one, including John at the Zelia shipwreck (and his Damara colleagues), Jenny (our server at our favourite Swakopmund café) and George, a craftsman in Okahanja. Namibia is spiritually parched, but God’s kindness in special moments still touches hearts. We are thankful for this. We would have missed this if we would have given up. To give up is like becoming like the Zelia shipwreck you see in the above picture. We had hoped to see shipwrecks on Skeleton Coast. This is a famous area for ships that get stranded in the coastal fog caused by the heat of the Namib desert and the cold South Atlantic Benguela current. This fishing boat was purchased by a company in Mumbai, India, to be taken apart for scrap metal. Instead, it was mistakenly set adrift in the port of Walvis Bay, south of Swakopmund. And so the tide drew the boat to its final resting place: a beach 12 km south of Hentie’s Bay, a favourite fishing village among South African anglers. This boat has been anchored on a sand bar in front of the beach since 2008. Along come the Copples, delighted to see a shipwreck, but sad at the state of the Damara gemstone sellers on the beach.
While Tony went off with our new digital camera to take pictures of Zelia, John and his colleague spoke to L-A about the shipwreck and offered up their gemstones. Normally L-A would say no, but this time was different. The Holy Spirit was nudging her heart to listen, to purchase and to hear an important request. Their families were camped nearby and needed water and meat. Tony returned and offered some immediate water, and we promised to do what we could. So we had fish lunches in Hentie’s Bay, and produced a list for Spar so they could make adequate stews and pap for their families – minced beef, pilchards, onions, potatoes, maize meal, water and some hot pies for their immediate lunch. It was a perfect offering, greatly appreciated and they were open and willing to pray with us. We would have missed this had we not persevered.
On our final morning in Swakopmund, we decided to say goodbye to the sweetest server we’ve met for a long time. Her name was Jenny. She took great care to serve us with kindness the day before, and this time we wanted to say goodbye. She served us each a fruit tart, two coffees for Tony and an almond latte for L-A. Non-dairy lattes are something special for L-A, since she cannot have cow’s milk, and yet loves lattes. So this café was special from the start. So L-A and Jenny bonded and we shared stories and our card with our email. We hope to hear from her again soon. Then we were off to Keetmanshoop via Windhoek. If we were in a hurry, we would have missed sweet Jenny. Then we drove off via a sandwich stop in Okahanja, at the Engen service station. A few days before, we had been met by craftsman George, who carved our names in a unique little coconut pit. We were on our way to get a pizza lunch and were greeted by George, who watched our car and wanted to know our names to carve for posterity. While we were initially trying to avoid him, we ended up meeting him again, and he asked for a sandwich, which we were happy to provide. While Tony was getting sandwiches, George and L-A talked and bonded over creative things and a love for children. He loves to work with street children. While we didn’t get to pray with him, he still experienced kindness, God’s love and encouragement over his entrepreneurship. We almost missed him.
And then we persevered through more gravel road to find Fish River Canyon, and onward back to Worcester via stops in Springbok, Clanwilliam and Piekienierskloof Pass. We found in a few days that our car was repaired and we could bring the rental back to Bidvest. All seemed well through errands, Christmas dinners and shopping until we tried to go to our friend Soraya’s wedding in a Cape Town suburb. We were to be the bride’s transport to the wedding venue, as well as photographers. And then – something else went wrong with the car. This happened close to a truck inspection stop before the N1 eastern entrance to the Hugenot tunnel. We were thankful for two things. L-A’s limping phone had enough signal to call the bride in good time for her to make other arrangements for a ride and pictures. We were sad to share the news that we would miss her wedding, but we were safe. We also really were safe in that spot, and made new friends of the truck inspection men. All three were solid Christians, and they encouraged us. Marco was very adamant that he wants to buy our car and turn it into a funeral-inspired limo. He could even drive us in our own car to Cape Town when we fly out on April 2nd, 2020. Perhaps there was more to this stop than we originally thought, although we are sad to miss the wedding. The other silver lining was that a mutual friend, Pastor Folla, was also on his way to Soraya’s wedding. He saw that our car was pulled over and he stopped to investigate. Folla needed directions to the wedding! We were glad to help him with this, as well as pass on our love and greetings to the bride and groom on our behalf. After we were towed home, we had more friends, a shared experience of the rescue, and despite inconvenience, we knew it would be okay, apart from the missed wedding. But are we going to give up because we missed our friend’s wedding? No, by no means. But we tried. Life happens, and we must continue to not give up, persevere and OVERCOME. L-A has been working on a two-part series of overcoming in her Ways to Grow in God. This was another chapter in learning how to overcome. Life is like that. Are we going to give up and be stranded on a beach for eleven years like shipwreck Zelia? Or are we going to overcome to face whatever joy awaits us? We are sure that something special is coming. We don’t want to miss that. So stop for divine moments, but never give up. Be an overcomer, not a shipwreck.
Here is the link to the Ways to Grow in God podcasts, so you can hear about overcoming. Scroll down to #67 on Overcoming Part One. Part Two is coming soon.
Comment by Peter Hartgerink: Good thoughts. In His wisdom God ensures that we have enough troubles to teach us the lessons we need to learn and enough blessings to keep us going. Inspired by your choice to listen to Holy Spirit in all these events.
Tony and Laurie-Ann Copple (usually Laurie-Ann)
L-A's devotional blog
TONY'S DEVOTIONAL BLOG
Tony's south african journal
TONY'S POST MISSION JOURNAL