For two months after we arrived in Germany, we made do with vehicles that we could borrow from friends or the Wycliffe offices. There was a waiting period for receiving our setup funds, so we couldn’t buy a car of our own immediately. That didn’t stop from researching the possibilities, and I felt ready to pounce on some good used cars when those funds came through.
One day, though, a friend and colleague at Wycliffe Germany stopped me and mentioned that he had received word of a person who was interested in giving a car to a missionary. Might this be a good option for us? I’m still not sure how one says “Duh!” in German, but I probably replied “Stimmt ja!”
After receiving the contact information for the donor, I carefully crafted a message in German that explained who we are and how very much we’d like to have the car. Would he be willing to send me more information?
Later that day, he wrote back. In English. Yes, he had a car for us. Could I call him so that we could chat about it? And, indeed, his own mother tongue is English. Will God’s wonders never cease? (No, they won’t.) I had been a little nervous about conducting potentially complicated transactions, such as this one, in German. Double Hallelujah!
This fellow and his wife came to Germany from South Africa to work with their respective companies German offices. They had lived here for several years, and now it was time to go home. As followers of Christ, they felt that at least one of their possessions here – this car – could benefit someone doing work for the Kingdom of God. And now they were very generously giving it to us!
Well, perhaps I shouldn’t write that they gave it to us. To reduce the complexity of the transaction, we agreed to conduct it as a sale. We set a date to meet in Köln (a.k.a. Cologne) at the main train station, and I set about arranging for insurance.
[singlepic id=58 w=320 h=240 float=left] So in the second week of October, I rode the train out to Cologne. But shortly before my arrival at the Hauptbahnhof, I got a call from the donor. There was a lot of construction traffic around the main station – could I get off a stop or two early? I got off the train one stop ahead almost exactly after I got off the phone. Whew! Now to wait for them to arrive …
While I was waiting, a fellow walked up to me and asked how to get to the train platform – the path wasn’t terribly obvious from the parking lot. I gave him awful directions. Not long after that, though, I got another call from the donor. He was on the platform – where was I? I’m in the parking lot, I replied … oh, you were just there? Ah, I see.
[singlepic id=59 w=320 h=240 float=right] Can either of us be blamed for not recognizing people we don’t know? Well, all’s well that ends well. I clambered into the car that was soon to be ours, and we drove off to a shopping center where there was a copy service to take care of our sales contract. His wife gave me an overview of the car – it had been her main vehicle – and we transferred the snow tires from the back of his car. Most importantly, I handed over our payment: a single 1 € coin. Hallelujah! After many signatures, we parted ways, each of us thankful for our God’s provision for our needs. They had a car they needed to give, and we needed to receive one!
What a blessing this car has been to us so far. It’s perfect for our daily use. And we know who to thank: “Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens.” (James 1:17) Thank the Lord our God with us for our little Renault Mégane!
Next up: the boys’ experience of school in Germany … in German (not the next post – the experience)