This One’s For Joy

Monday morning, Sampson’s brother said their Mum, Joy, had rallied a little after a blood transfusion, so we were just praying for a little time to get across the border and make a plan. We were at M + Z Motors in Ondangwa by 7am, and they very quickly adjusted handbrake settings that no one else had yet addressed and allowed us to powerwash spilt cooking oil off the roof. Generous branch manager Robert Dedig (who very kindly didn’t charge us) warned us that queues at the border sometimes mean the crossing can take days, so we set off urgently.

Sampson felt a bit better after a tearful phonecall with Joy, where he told her how if it wasn’t for what she and Reg had taught him, and the example of their adventurous spirit, he wouldn’t be here now, pursuing our dream.

We reached the border post at Oshikango about 11 and the crossing was surprisingly straightforward. There was one sweaty moment when the Namibian official said she couldn’t stamp us out on our SA passports (which we’d had to enter Namibia on as the SA official said it was illegal for us to exit SA on any other passport) if our Angolan visas were in our UK passports (which we’d had to apply for visas with as Home Affairs had made a mistake with Ruby’s SA passport and we didn’t receive it until the week before we left). Thankfully, once we waved our official endorsement letter from the Dept of Arts and Culture, she solved it by stamping them both. Phew.

The Angolan side of the border was more chaotic because of major building work underway. There weren’t any signs to tell you where to go, but several would-be guides. One very, very drunk feller walked ahead of us for the rest of the day gesticulating, but we steadfastly and politely ignored him. The children are learning fast. We stood for hour or so waiting in the queue to process passports with some lovely church ladies from Botswana, and received a stamp almost impossible to read, but there was nothing else to complain about. It took Sampson another couple of hours to sort out road tax, but we were all done by 4.30pm. Luckily the kids were having a ‘we’re keen to do schoolwork’ day and so we ploughed through all our subjects to get ahead so they can have some days off around Ruby’s birthday.

Angola felt immediately hotter, the dust was whiter and thicker, and a larger proportion of people seemed to be wearing a gorgeous fuchsia pink. I’m afraid I was too worried about Joy to take photos. Santa Clara is a busy border town, with many small businesses thriving on either side of the road. Sampson was grappling with driving on the right as we came out onto a roundabout. The first 100m was appalling – more pothole than tar, and he was getting worried about the oil sloshing about in containers on the roof – when suddenly we were on a brand new highway complete with hard shoulders, smoother than anything in Namibia! Half an hour down the road, we found a quiet place to pull over for the night.

Yesterday, we reached the first big town, Ondjiva, midmorning. We did school while Sampson missioned to get a SIM card. The price was ten times what it was  in Nambia – now I understand the many pedestrians in border queues who go over just to get a bag of shopping. Immediately Mark received an SMS from his brother Paul saying their Mum was worse and near the end. They spoke and we all cried. We sat and considered whether it was possible to fly to Luanda from here and then to UK. Mark missioned to get another SIM for data to get online and find out, but was told all internet was down until tonight.

Just as we got back to the truck, Paul called. Joy was gone. The last thing she said before they got the morphine pump going was ‘Why are you crying? You don’t need to cry!’



My mother-in-law was a helluva woman. She worked as a pharmacist in her youth, which is where Sampson gets his science chops from. She waited 7 years to get pregnant, and fostered 14 children, before her first baby died at birth. She knew about patience and fortitude. They built their house themselves and lived in a caravan on site when they first got married. She cared for three dying relatives in succession while bringing up two mischievous little boys next door to Reg’s garage, where he worked 12 hours a day. Farmer’s son Reg became obsessed by sailing, and began to build boats. He never learned to swim, but that never stopped him. When the boys were teenagers, the family sailed together all over the Mediterranean in the school holidays. Joy was proud to be a ‘proper job Cornish maid’; she baked like a demon and made the best pasties in the world. She loved her village community in St Newlyn East and we are so grateful that they are all rallying round Paul now, in the way she always did for everyone else in times of trouble.

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20 Responses to This One’s For Joy

  1. Paul Sampson says:

    Tears flowing again here. Wonderful words. Miss hugging you all, so much it hurts. Paul. xx

  2. syoumbah says:

    Dear Sampson Family,

    I’m saddened to learn about the passing of Joy.

    I pray Our Lord Jesus to give you the strength to go this tragic moment and for her soul to be given a well deserve resting in His Holy place.

    Stay blessed.

  3. Love & strength from Brazil! Following your dream is the best possible way to say goodbye

  4. says:

    love to you all guys xx

  5. julie says:

    Hi Sam and family
    Read this post with such sadness.
    I travel a lot too.
    And my parents always understood
    Joy would be so proud of what you are doing and
    what better a way than to go on..with her in your minds…
    Good luck in Angola…

    and what you are doing for your kids is so great…
    they are the future…

  6. Linda de Jager says:

    Thinking of you all at this very sad time. Very special “This one’s for Joy” .

  7. Val Vickkery says:

    Thinking of you ALL . Love from ALL us Vickery’s xx

  8. Clare says:

    Strength to you all… her spirit is with you… willing you onwards!

  9. Barbra Wright says:

    sending you so much love. keep going dear hearts, you have to go through to come out. Barbs x

  10. Desney says:

    Thanks for all your news Sam – our love and thoughts to you all from Noordhoek x Des

  11. Cheryl Williams says:

    Sorry to hear this news. Much love to the family, and special hugs to Ruby and Zola today. xx

  12. stan says:

    Sorry to hear of your loss.Glad to hear you made it into Angola which you will love I am sure.
    Travel safe.

  13. Albert says:

    Sorry to hear about your mom. Rest in peace dear lady. Sympathies to all. Thanks for the interresting updates. This is the making of a trip you and the kids will never forget.

  14. Our condolence over Joy. May God give more strength.

  15. Shoo, guys you have had some sad sad news. Lots of love and special thoughts with positive energy for your amazing trip ahead. Lotsa love Sally ( noordhoek) cape 2 cape4 kids

  16. spencerjude says:

    Crying reading this, as much as I did at your wedding, seems all so connected

  17. janet and steve says:

    our thoughts are with you she was a wonderful lady and mother lve from steve,jan ,nathaniel, parasha collins at parknoweth farm st newlyn east xxx

  18. Howdy! I just wish to offer you a big thumbs up
    for your great information you have got right here
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  19. Peter Becalick says:

    Just found this about your Mum Mark.
    She was an amazingly warm and generous person who always made me incredibly welcome in St Newlyn East.
    Very sad news indeed – she will always be with you on your travels mate.


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