Sunday, February 23, 2014

The parable of the Fickle Garmin

Once upon a time there was a missionary couple from a small town in Arizona called to serve in the South African, Durban Mission in a "small town" called Bloemfontein.  (Of course the term "small town" is relative to what you know.  Bloemfontein seems pretty big to me.). This couple had a third companion, lovingly called Elder Garmin, that they trusted and depended on a great deal.  Well, at least at first they did.  

Elder and sister Edington where given the keys to a car, that had the steering wheel on the wrong side, and were asked if they wanted to drive to their new home or be driven.  Sister Edington respectfully declined the opportunity but Elder Edington said, "There is no time better than the present to learn".  He took the keys and climbed in on the "wrong" side of his new car.  Elder Edington drove away being coached by Elder Carlile and Sister Edington climbed in a car with Sister Carlile and off they went in search of their new living quarters.

Elder Edington drove remarkable well for the 20 or 30 minutes it took us to get to our new home from the airport.  I don't know if Elder Carlile was just a great teacher or if Elder Edington was just an amazing student but that was the extent of Elder Edington's driving instruction.  From then on it was Elder Edington in the drivers seat, me in the front left seat and "Elder Garmin" on my lap.  We were told just punch in where you want to go and follow what the GPS tells you to do.  That sounds easy enough, right.  It is rather easy if you remember which side of the road to stay on, which way to look for on coming cars, stay left, pass right, short left turns, long right turns and so much more.  A new adventure for sure.
We soon discovered Elder Garmin is not completely trust worthy.  He has two faults that can not only be irritating and frustrating but can also be dangerous at times.  First Elder Garmin often takes us  places by way of the scenic route.  We are not sure if he is trying to avoid traffic areas or what but he often takes us in a very round about way.  Second he is not always programmed right, although that is no fault of his or our own either.  

Often we have to go places we have never been before.  At first we trusted Elder Garmin completely, even though we began to see shorter routes to places we had to go often.  That wasn't to bad, but after our experience coming home from Rocklands / Blomanda ward building our trust in a Elder Garmin was greatly shaken,   We had been in South Africa just over a week and had very little experience with how to get to and from the Rocklands / Blomanda ward building.  We made it to the building with minor set back and when it was time to go home we punched in "go home" on the garmin.  To our dismay the scenic route that Elder Garmin chose that night took us  right thorough down town Bloemfontein.  I have to admit he warned us with a skull head and beeping that we were in a dangerous situation but we had no idea how to get out of were we where except to follow the directions he gave us. When we finally made it home that night Dalen got out a map and said we would never be at the total mercy of Elder Garmin again. 

The following Sunday we had a speaking assignment i Welkom, about 1 1/2 hours away from our home and again a place we had never been.  The young missionaries that were stationed in Welkom were all going to be at different branches so we had to get to Welkom on our own.  Actual addresses to places are hard to come by so we had to depend on Elder Garmin again and pray that he would get us there safe and sound. To our amazement and great joy the trip was beautiful and Elder Garmin successfully took us from our doorsteps to the chapel gates.   

After sacrament meeting and a meeting with two of our teachers we headed for a second destination which was Kroonstad.  This is a branch about 45 minutes to the northeast of Welkom and again one that we had not yet visited and one we did not have an actual address for.  We found Kroostad in our Garmin, indicated that was where we wanted to go and headed out, trusting we would have success for the second time that day.   Needless to say in about an hour we reached the designated destination only to find out we were now nearly 2 hours west of Kroonstan with no possibility of getting to our meeting on time, or at all.  We had a beautiful day and saw gorgeous country and lots of animals but again decided we would never go somewhere totally trusting "Elder Garmin" again.  We now map out the places we are going  and the route we should take.  When we get to the city or town we let Elder Garmin get us to the church.  He seem to do pretty good at the short term stuff.

We only have 8 more chapels we have not yet been to and 8 more adventures to go to visit all the units for which we are responsible.  Hopefully we have learned that it is important to know who or what to rely on and in whom or what to place our faith and trust. Faulty information, no matter how well intended will still result in ending up taking the scenic routes of South Africa. Ultimately self reliance and good map skills are more useful than blind faith in a misdirected Garmin.


  1. sounds like an adventure, one you don't want to repeat very often. I am glad you are discovering all the routes now. Being lost is not fun

  2. Sounds like there is a lesson in this story. Two or more witnesses, etc???

  3. We are catching up on your blog and we had to laugh when we read this. We started our mission serving in Swaziland and was given a GPS - we called our Lia - and told not to worry if we were lost we could always input Go Home and follow the directions. So of course when we did this we found ourselves traveling in the wrong direction - it seems that whoever had the GPS last lived somewhere near Durban instead of in Swaziland.