Greetings and Happy May! Hope flowers are abloom wherever you are, and that your heart is also blooming in love, joy and celebration of life!
I’d like to describe to you our experience of driving in Jamaica, as it’s a big part of our daily lives here. I’m not quite sure how to start, as it seems there are no words to accurately express the pandemonium that ensues when we start the engine and hit the streets.
I’ve decided the best way to convey the experience is to compare it to a video game: Every man for himself, all the odds against you, may the
best craziest driver win.
There are a few loose rules. Traffic
lights and stop signs are options for creating order, but the majority of
drivers see them as an inconvenience and waste of time. Obstacles pop out at any given moment: Bicyclists carrying shovels, bamboo stalks, and
other random objects, stray dogs crossing the street on a whim, barefoot
children chasing each other, goats, pushcarts and motorcycles are just a few of
many hindrances you may encounter en route.
Public transportation exists in the form of large, sluggish buses that
have a mind of their own and make frequent, sporadic stops. If you get behind one of them the game is
over for you. Not only are you stuck for
the indefinite future, but the fumes might kill you on the spot. Drivers believe in using all lanes,
regardless of the traffic flow to get to their destination fastest. The pot holes are more like large lunar
craters, and during rainy season you really need an ark in lieu of a car. It’s a white knuckled, heart racing,
close-your-eyes-until we get there experience.
Interestingly, Kevin THRIVES on the roads here. A little known fact about Kevin is that he’s certain his life’s calling involves being a NASCAR driver. He’s never actually been in a racecar, but he “feels it in his bones” that given the chance, he’d take NASCAR to new heights. The Kingston streets only confirm his calling. He navigates the chaos with the finesse of a feline and views every obstacle as a chance to channel his inner Jeff Gordon.
Given my husband’s aspirations, it’s no surprise that when we first arrived in Kingston, I was certain we wouldn’t last more than a week without catastrophe. Every morning when Kevin left for the office, I literally hit my knees in prayer, begging God to protect him and help him make it in one piece. The situation was so desperate and so beyond my control that praying seemed the only option.
After a few months, I got used to Jamaican driving, and the threat didn’t seem so big. We were getting along fine, and I was actually driving around town running errands (without having a panic attack). As I became more comfortable, I started praying less. I was kissing Kevin good-bye and starting my day, without giving a thought to asking God for protection. So often comfort leads to complacency, and as the danger diminished, so did my prayers.
Last week I was driving to the golf course to pick Kevin up after an early morning round. As I was driving, the Holy Spirit so convicted me of my self-reliance and lack of prayers. I couldn’t think of the last time I had prayed for protection. I thanked God for protecting us so far on our journey, asked forgiveness for not making prayer a priority, and prayed that He would keep me safe as I drove to get Kevin. I picked Kevin up and we headed back to house. As we were driving, out of nowhere a car pulled out in front of us, totally oblivious to our presence. Because of our speed and the hill we were descending, there was no way to avoid an accident. I slammed on the breaks and waited for the “crunch.” I knew both cars were totaled, and my mind was running a million miles a minute, trying to process the hassle, the damage, and the number of probable broken bones. It seemed to last forever…I kept waiting, and waiting and waiting for the collision. But it never came. Our car stopped inches short of the other vehicle. I’m talking literal inches. You couldn’t have fit a paper clip between the two bumpers.
I can’t prove what happened that afternoon, but I believe in my heart God heard my prayer for safety, graced us with protection and miraculously stopped the collision. In my mind, I see Him watching the scene unfold, reaching His mighty arm down to Shortwood Road, and stopping our car with the strength of His fingertip. Then He gives us a gentle smile as we close our eyes in thanks, chuckling to Himself as we drive the rest of the way home sending hi fives to heaven.
So often we wonder if prayer really works, and so often we can’t see tangible results to confirm that it does. But sometimes God gives us such vivid proof that it can’t be denied. And those moments keep me praying.
“Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear.”
Kevin & Cass