Big Bug Big Bus

Big Yellow Tour BusThe following story happened while living in Penang, an island off the west coast of Malaysia south of Thailand about one-third the size of Singapore.

One ordinary day in October . . .

Barb: Returning to our car after having finished our weekly shopping at the local grocery store, we found an advertisement tucked under our windshield wiper promoting a relatively new restaurant in the area, Grumpiez, specializing in hard-to-find Mexican cuisine. Since we had seen many local eating places here one day and gone by the next month, we decided to try to catch it while we could since we both loved Mexican food, had heard favorable reviews about it, were hungry, and were wondering where to eat. After quickly talked ourselves into it, we jumped in the car and headed in its general direction.

Nick: Mexican food works for me day or night, so I was more than ready to try a new Mexican restaurant since authentic Mexican food in Penang is a rarity!

Barb: Once we reached the street and located the house restaurant, it was time to find a place to park—no small task on the two-way, narrow street that turned into more like the size of a one-way street that had cars going both directions as cars slowed enough to squeeze past randomly parked cars that were situated every which way along both sides of the road! Technically, there were not really any official “parking spaces” for the house restaurants that had sprung up on the street, but there were plenty of “No Parking” signs in front of driveways. There was no parallel parking and certainly no apparent organization that would even make one think there was a plan, but, in fact, NO plan was the plan! Park where you could at your own risk!

Nick: And to add to that confusion, cars are driven on the left side of the road in this formerly British colony, so what Barb just described is in reverse from the way traffic/parking is handled in the United States. It’s a whole different ballgame when it comes to parking over here.

Barb: But, with no problem at all, we fell in step with the locals and maneuvered our little three-cylinder car in a spot near the front of Grumpiez so that our car was hugging a large tree while making sure it didn’t block the motorcycle that was parked on the left of the tree and still leaving room for the car on the right of the tree to get out. We were good to go so proceeded to carefully maneuver ourselves out of the car——Nicky on his side that was close to the tree and me on my side that was close to the traffic.

Nick: Barb calls me her “hefty husband” . . . so, hefty me squeezing out my car door smooched against the big tree trunk was like a whale emerging from a cocoon! It definitely would have caught the attention of any passersby had there been any at the moment.

Barb: Nicky got out first and went around the back of the car to lock the back door on the road side of the car while I got out on the driver’s side on the right, pushing the button down to lock my door before slamming the door shut. I walked to the front of the car to get away from the close traffic since we were parked with our wheels right on the edge of the road. I turned and watched as Nicky finished locking the back door.

At this point, the traffic congestion in the road was, well….very congested and the attempts that cars were making to get through reminded me of traffic on an old-fashioned one-way bridge where cars had to give way to other cars and let them pass before they would get their turn. In this case, however, though not really stopping completely, the cars were slowing down to a snail’s pace out of sheer necessity.

Then, suddenly a gap in the traffic opened up beside our car where Nicky was standing, and a very large, brightly colored tour bus stomped on the gas to fill the void. In this country where cars and motorcycles have right-of-way over pedestrians, large vehicles also seem to take on the accepted mentality to bully normal-sized cars, and drivers assume folks on foot will just get out of their way—that is….IF they see them coming.

Since the bus had suddenly appeared and was now to Nicky’s back, he had NO IDEA there was a bus seemingly on a path to unintentionally mow him down, so I went into rescue mode. Seeing how quickly a dangerous situation was developing, with a loud yell and wide eyes that tried to communicate “DANGER,” I shouted, “BIG BUS!” while I pointed to the approaching speeding bus that was now within about ten feet of my husband.

At that moment in time, he was straddling the edge of the blacktopped road and the gravel at its edge and had just finished closing the backseat car door. With my yell, I expected him to move in tight against the car and wait for the bus to pass. However, I found out later that instead of hearing, “BIG BUS,” he heard, “BIG BUG!” As a result, he moved AWAY from the car into the street to get a better view of where the big bug might be so that he could kill it for me. The major problem was that his move away from the car moved him directly into the path of the bus…..that he had no idea was barreling down on him!

Nick: In the tropics we have some big fearsome-looking bugs that I think are really cool, but Barb gets really, really excited about them, so given that mindset, I stepped back to see if the Big Bug she was so frantically yelling and pointing at was on the side of the car door or the roof. I thought it must be a BIG ONE since she was yelling so loudly and looked so distraught!!

Barb: That split second froze in time. The flying bus was now right beside our car just a couple feet away from the obstacle on the side of the road—Nicky’s body.
Time for action had run out! There IS such a thing as a bus driver physically not being able to change his bus’s course of direction due to something unexpectedly moving into its path. I thought this was just such a time, and since the steering wheel is on the right side of vehicles here, that put Nicky on the blind side of the bus driver. I gasped and held my breath, helpless to do anything but fearfully watch. My blood pressure spiked and my heart pounded wildly.  With no time to pray, it was definitely an instance of the Holy Spirit interceding for me when I literally could not. It all happened in a flash, so unexpectedly.

Nick: Unknown to me, at the moment of near impact, I found myself SUDDENLY flattened against the side of the car. I felt the wind on my back sucking at my shirt from something very big, very close, moving very fast behind me, and then turning my head, saw the end of the BIG BUS flying by barely missing me. Now it made sense—THAT was the BIG BUS, not BIG BUG, my wife was screaming about! The bus was big and fast, and had it hit me, I’d have been either in the hospital or history!

Barb: The bus passed, and my husband was still standing—miraculously and by nothing but God’s grace. Total relief passed over me as blood pumped to my head in an attempt to stabilize my body’s rebound. Once I saw that he was uninjured, I turned into an animated half-crazed wife as I blasted him with, “WHY DID YOU MOVE A-W-A-Y FROM THE CAR??” Of course, I wasn’t expecting an answer—I was just thrilled that I could unleash my emotions on a fully alive and uninjured husband!

Nick: When I found myself flat, hugging the side of the car, I was wondering to myself, “Why am I hugging the side of the car!?” because at that moment I wasn’t even aware that I was in extreme danger!! What I know is that when the Lord says He will put His angels in charge over us, He means it, and I had given Him the perfect opportunity to do so!! Somehow God flattened me against the car because I sure wasn’t thinking about it!

Barb: Recovery took a few minutes as the horrors of what could have happened replayed in our minds. We stopped right then and there and thanked the Lord for His protection and in no way took for granted that we were still able to head into the restaurant rather than be rushed to the hospital in an emergency vehicle…..or worse….a hearse!

Nick: Once again, the Lord’s strong hand of protection broke into an ordinary day, saving me from unknown, imminent danger, and by the way, the Mexican food was excellent—I hope they stay in business!


“He will put his angels in charge of you to protect you in all your ways.”

–Psalm 91:11 (GWT)


(This simple true story has been written to encourage you in your walk of faith, or if you want to know more about how you, too, can also experience a walk of faith with this loving God, follow this link >>> My Hope)

—Best Regards! Nick & Barb Nichols


Copyright © 2015 by William D. (Nick) Nichols


  • Scot Darby says:

    Nick and Barb,

    Praise The Lord for His protection!

    Alive in Him,


  • Barend says:

    Hi guys. So appreciate your faith stories. It is such an encouragement. Our Father cares about our every step.


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