Edwin* grins and settles contentedly behind the wheel as he steers the Hi-Ace out of Austria towards Slovakia. “I love travelling! For me, it’s a holiday.”
That’s good news, because trucking loads of aid and literature over tens of thousands of kilometres certainly wouldn’t be everyone’s ideal getaway. Edwin has made himself at home in all sorts of vehicles since he joined OM in 1991. He’s also become an expert at repairing them, thanks to excellent truck mechanic training while he was in the army. After joining OM he served a year and a half at the mission’s garage in Zaventem, Belgium, and took part in an overland trip to India and Nepal, spending a half year servicing vehicles in Nepal.
Once he and wife Hanna joined the Greater Europe team in Vienna (later called OM EAST, or the Eurasia Support Team) Edwin joined the ranks of unsung heroes that trucked tons of precious Christian literature and humanitarian aid into desperate areas of the former Communist Eastern Europe. Even when the Iron Curtain lifted in the 90’s and borders opened, books and aid from the West were still very much in demand by countries struggling to rebuild.
Edwin readily admits that sitting at the borders was the downside for most trips. Particularly memorable was the long weekend he spent waiting for permission to cross into Moldova. “The guards didn’t treat you very well—and the female guards were worst,” he says. “There was no messing around with them!”
The chances of getting hijacked or beaten up by would-be thieves were so real that he packed a baseball bat and pepper spray for protection. Adding to this hazard were icy hours on dark, rutted roads.—“Nerve-ticklers,” he calls such conditions. “Once, in Bulgaria, we just couldn’t make it up a hill. The hydraulics weren’t working, the battery burnt out, and it was the middle of the night, freezing cold with snow on the ground. The police stopped and of course we didn’t speak Bulgarian and they had no English. I tried to explain that we needed to put snow chains on the tyres. When we finally got going we didn’t dare to stop again; taking turns driving until we were half asleep!”
Edwin has delivered everything from food and blankets to school supplies, hospital beds and sewing machines. Most items go to churches or Christian partner agencies for distribution. He has even enthused his sister back in Switzerland to recruit shoe manufacturers into contributing their slow-sellers. Of course, between trips, Edwin dedicates countless hours to making sure team vehicles are in prime condition.
Astonishingly, in 28 years of driving Edwin has never had an accident.—A record that has less to do with his skill, he maintains, than the mercy and protection of the Lord--his constant Companion.
Let’s give thanks for drivers and mechanics like Edwin, and remember to pray as they “keep on trucking” for the Lord.
*Surname withheld to protect security
Credit: Debbie Meroff
· © 2010 OM International