Bob Parkinson is a friend of Flying Mission Zambia. Not only has he come over from Canada to help us in previous years, he has recently organised a container of useful ‘stuff’ to be shipped to Chilongolo for use in the ministry to rural Zambia. Last week it arrived safely, but not without incident.
Since Bob would not be in Zambia at the time of arrival of the shipping container, Rick Rempel, Chief Pilot for the mission, was assigned the task of arranging the delivery to the base.
Now there has been a lot of rain this rainy season; and I mean a lot of rain! (See ‘Say it with Flowers’ for further evidence.) So on the morning of the proposed delivery, Rick asked the lorry driver to take a look at our muddy tracks and decide whether he could make the delivery satisfactorily. A crane would accompany the lorry, to be used for lifting the container off the lorry bed at the destination.
The driver decided that he could manage the roads and set off, with the crane following behind. He did not anticipate that a minibus would be blocking the better access into our rural setting. He was forced to take a more pot-holed and saturated track, but was able to reach the end of the lane leading to Chilongolo. Upon attempting to make the tight left turn into the property, his front tyre slipped off into the ditch. The crane was then brought up to get him back onto the track. Unfortunately conditions proved too slippery and the lorry finished up with both wheels in the ditch! A new plan was needed.
The decision was made to get the crane to lift the whole lorry, trailer and container, back onto the road so it could make another attempt at getting through the gate. But that presented another problem: the power lines were in the way of the crane. The power must be turned off. After several phone calls and a few hours, the power guys came to have a look at things. They were not able to shut the power down themselves so there was another wait till Head Office flicked the switch and enabled the process to continue.
The back tyres of the trailer were re-connected with the road and the crane was then able to pull the rig into line. The driver then swung into the base. Unfortunately the slippery conditions then threatened a repeat of the last episode. This time we were ready with the crane and the rig was pulled back into place for the final drive to the drop-off place near our new hangar. The crane lifted the container off onto the ground and the job was finally accomplished.
Bob is a practical kind of a guy. He was a heavy truck mechanic in his working days. He has built aircraft and even owned a helicopter, so he knows what is useful to an aviation mission like ours. In the container we know that we will find a plethora of tools, big and small, some being from Bob’s professional tool kit. He has also acquired for us a tractor, complete with slasher and grader. There are buckets of bolts, screws and washers in both metric and imperial sizes: a feast to the eyes of mechanics! And the ‘word on the street’ is that even more ‘stuff’ will be revealed.
Bob is now in Zambia to help unload the container and FMZ personnel are very keen to see what’s inside!