We live in Mwanza, Tanzania, serving with Emmanuel International helping local churches in physical and spiritual ministry.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Beauty Woven in the Knots and Tangles

There was another thread being woven through our traumatic events in Bunda at the weekend. Another trauma. Yet despite all the pain embedded in the story, it is beautiful to see how our lives intertwine, to see how small our world is and how big the picture that our Master Weaver is perfecting.
The road to Bunda
On Saturday, while we were in that police station on the side of the road in a small place called Bunda, in that small room with the two wooden desks, a shortage of chairs and a bookcase of messy brown files, we had a phonecall. It was Sam Archer, the woman who had opened her home to us when we so desperately needed a place to stay; she asked us for a phone number of a police officer there. And this is the other thread ...

Ellen, an American woman living in Musoma (about an hour drive away) had received a message that she needed to contact the police in Bunda about her husband on a bus. This was all the information she had. No phone number. No details. Distraught and worried, she had contacted Sam in Bunda to try and get a phone number. Sam replied that she didn't know a number, but she knew someone that was in the police station right then. And here our threads intertwine!

We knew quite a few of those policemen by then and were able to give the number of a senior officer who was acting most fairly to us. Sam then came to the police station as well and was able to talk to the officer directly. The tragic story here was that the Ellen’s husband, Johnny, had been on a bus returning home from Mwanza to Musoma and along the way started to appear “drunk.” Before long he was unconscious and was removed from the bus near Bunda. He ended up in the same hospital that the victim of our accident had been taken to. Knowing he couldn't possibly be drunk, Sam went straight to the hospital to find him there and wait for Ellen (7 months pregnant with their first child) to arrive. It was very unclear what the problem was. It was increasingly worrying as he did not regain consciousness. He had none of his belongings; his passport, money, computer and other personal belongings were all gone.

Ellen arrived with some friends who work with them with SIL in Musoma; some stayed at the hospital and one came to the road outside the police station with Sam, where we were. He and the police were stopping busses and searching for the missing belongings or any clues. Nothing. Meanwhile concern for the Johnny's condition (still unconscious and on a drip) was growing and the need for better care becoming more urgent. Without a passport, things were complicated.

Just after we finished at the police station on Saturday afternoon, friends were able to get Johnny into the back of a car (nestled with the Archers' pillows), and driven to Musoma where he could be put on plane to Nairobi for better care.

Later in Nairobi it was confirmed that he had been drugged with something similar to Valium. He had been drugged on the bus with some wrapped sweets that had been handed to him and another passenger (most likely in on it too) by the guy sitting next to him. And then he was robbed of everything.

Thankfully, with good care and a quick diagnosis, he recovered quickly in Nairobi and by Monday afternoon he was discharged from the hospital.

It wasn't until after the events of that traumatic day that we realised that this couple had lived in Langley, my hometown. He had studied at Trinity Western University, they had attended a church we know, Willoughby CRC, and were friends with a number of people we know, some of whom are in my parents church. So as the church in Langley was praying for us in our trauma, in this strange twist, they heard about and were able to pray for this couple in theirs. Our worlds collided in a remote police station in a little place called Bunda. But God knew we were there. He knew Johnny would be there. And he had, those years ago, put the Archers there.

These things are not mere "coincidences." Our lives are coloured and woven together with great care. The work of art is not yet finished and there are still knots and pain in the making of it. But to see the beauty of the twists and joinings in this huge tapestry we call life is something to look for and treasure. A glimpse of purpose and beauty in what sometimes seems knotted and tangled.

Please continue to pray for Johnny and Ellen (who have given us permission to share their story here) as they recover and work through what has happened.

This song was given to us by some friends yesterday; in a similar way to glimpsing purpose and beauty in the knots and tangles, this songs leads us to look for the Light in the darkness, the lighthouse as we navigate through the storm.


  1. Hi Rachel, Thanks for sharing your recent events on your blog. Wow, what a traumatic week this has been for you but great to see how God's hand has been at work through it all, right down to the little comments like the one Amisadai made to the Bunda policeman. Who knows how God might use each and every event in both these stories from this and your previous blogpost. Thank you for being so willing to share such a powerful testimomy in both these blogposts and for being so open to see God at work despite these very difficult circumstances. With our prayers for you and for the boy's family down there in Tz. Liz

  2. What a marvelous God we serve......truly working all things together for our good and HIS GLORY! I'm touched by your story! Stella Esch, PA, USA (Mother of Melissa Zook, Scott's wife) Love the song!

    1. Thank you Stella! It is incredible how God uses all of us in so many ways all over the world ... and connects us in big and small ways!


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