Happy Trails to Willy
Our 1964 canvas camouflaged Willys jeep
Had a crank in the front that was really neat
Driving down vertical Himalayan roads
Playful Willy sent a wheel for a roll!
We cried aloud, “God, look! That’s our wheel!”
Poor Willy died, but God had more still
His plan was no old, cranky military jeep
But a snazzy Isuzu with AC and bucket seats!
Mr. Campers always regretted selling it to us. His 1964 canvas-covered, compact little jeep was a gem. And we got it cheap. When we finally sold it, we regretted it too. Working or not, it was a priceless 1964 crank-up military jeep.
When we first got it, we were so pleased! We finally had a vehicle to use in the mountains as well as the plains. Then Willy started acting up. When Willy pouted, we’d have to attach the crank in the front to start him up. It took muscles to give it a whirl, so Yip would twirl, while I sat behind the wheel and pressed the gas pedal at the precise moment.
One day, we drove down the mountain-side with a full jeep-load of children popping out of the canvas windows and sides, and we pulled a loaded trolly behind us. Then, a wheel rolled down the road ahead of us. Yip, who was driving, wondered, “which idiot lost a wheel?” He hit the brakes, speculating where the 3-wheeled car was, but the brakes didn’t work, even pressed fully down to the floor. Then Yip realized we were the three-wheeled brakeless car!
“Everyone down! Hang-on tight!” Yip slowly drove the jeep against the steep mountain side, scratching it along the wall of rock. It was the only way we could come to a stop. At least we weren’t on the cliff side of the road. That would have been fatal.
Thankfully, everyone was fine. Except Willy.
“Okay,” said Yip. “Tim and I will look after Willy, the rest of you start walking.” Tim was a young man who came from Wales to help us. “We’ll meet you at the bottom of the mountain.”
It was about 10 kilometres to the bottom of the mountain. The kids were excited. An adventure! I had 3 small children of my own, plus 5 little boys—all under the age of 7. The question for me was, how would I ever control them on 10 kilometres of curvy road while carrying a baby? I don’t know how we managed, but we got down the mountain and waited for Yip.
Willy dying was a sad happening. He’d been so faithful when we needed him.
There were many trips up and down the mountain. We’d had lots of neighbours needing day and night emergency runs to the hospital. Willy rushed us to the hospital for our children’s births as well. Once, in monsoon, while crossing the rivers to get to the mission hospital for our second child, Willy nearly drowned.
We got there just in time on 2 spark plugs. As Willy aged he would only start with a crank. When that failed, we prayed, pushed, pumped the gas pedal, and then leapt in while Willy was coughing and sputtering—hoping he’d take off. Finally, the day came when Willy refused to start at all, not even by prayer. We had to accept it. Willy, our steadfast and stalwart friend, had died. We prayed together for a car.
The next week Yip had to go to Delhi for some pending work. As he walked up the steps of a hotel, he spotted an acquaintance he’d met a few times.
“Oh, hi Yip!” Jeff yelled.
Yip turned and greeted him.
“Hey Yip,” said Jeff with raised eyebrows. “Do you need a car?”
Yip was so surprised his words were glued to his mouth. Before he could spit them out, Jeff said, “Because God just told me to give you, my car.”
Yip stared wide-eyed. His mouth made silent, awkward shapes while he tried to find the words.
“Um … yeah … .”
Jeff looked a little embarrassed. “It’s parked over there, but if I you don’t mind, can I give it to you tomorrow? Would that be alright?”
Yip, finally able to speak, said, “That would be fine.” But his look of shock and surprise, gave him away.
Jeff grinned and slapped Yip on the back, making the arrangement to hand the car over to him the next day. And that’s what happened. Yip drove home in a fancy Japanese ISUZU, with seat belts, air-conditioning, buckets seats, and a CD player. God’s plan was no old, cranky military jeep, but a snazzy Isuzu with AC and bucket seats!
Who would have thought of that?