Victoria Falls, Rhodesia -Zimbabwe
NO SAFETY NET – PART 1
It has been a while since I shared a “Nugget” from my heart. The past three weeks have been a whirlwind of emotional highs and lows along with necessary activities that took me away from my cherished time to record my thoughts!
Once again my thoughts turn to Rhodesia, Africa. The land of my birth; the land of my first love; the land which sands still grind in my shoes while the call of the bush still beckons me on the whispering winds!
Such a land of contrasts: breath-taking beauty with pristine wilderness areas untouched by man; a refuge and sanctuary for wild life to roam at will; pockets of primitive tribes still living as they did a century ago. Mixed in with this unadulterated beauty are the trappings of modern civilization in varying degrees of growth or decay!
Those early pioneer years to which I was born, certainly were not for the faint of heart but for those who had a vision, a call to the wild, an adventurer’s heart then this was the land that dreams are made of! During my childhood and subsequent adult years, there were occasions that caused us to feel that we had “no safety net” in the situations we were thrust into. Come walk with me as I tread softly through the mists of riveting memories! For the sake of brevity in this Nugget I will share but two!
The majestic Victoria Falls stood in its virgin beauty back in the days we visited it when I was as a child. There were no fences, no hotel with luxurious accommodations; no tourists guides vying for your business. There was simply spectacular beauty carved out of jagged rock, with roaring water from the mighty Zambezi River tumbling over the precipice and plunging into a deep gorge and narrow ravine. These mighty falls are one of the “seven wonders of the world”; the African name for them is “Mosi-oa-Tunya” which means “The smoke that Thunders”. Without question, these are among the most spectacular waterfalls in the world and raise an iridescent mist that can be seen more than 20 km away. Thus accounting for the reason of the name; “The Smoke that Thunders”.
On one particular visit an incident happened that forever will remain with me. We had donned our raincoats and followed the very wet path through the “rain forest”. The dense bush along the edge of the precipice was like a tropical rainforest caused by the heavy spray. As we stepped out into the clearing the view of the cascading thunderous water was almost more than our visual senses could take in. There were no fences and the grass and rocks were wet and slippery, so we stood just beyond the tree line drinking in the view in total silence and awe. It seemed like a sacred moment in time but a few minutes later a noisy group erupted from the rain forest just to the right of where we were standing. Cameras were clicking, lots of laughter and then a couple of the men decided to show their bravado by gingerly walking from rock to rock until they stood a mere couple of feet from the edge of the jagged precipice. To this day I still wonder what prompted the next move; the one man decided to take ONE STEP CLOSER to the edge but the rock was so slimy from the spray that he slipped and fell, sliding for the precipice. It was only the quick thinking of his friend who grabbed his arm and literally pulled him from certain death, which enabled this foolish man to live to see another day. THERE WAS NO SAFETY NET so only the fool-hardy would do what this man did. My Dad used this man’s disregard for prudent wisdom to teach us children a valuable lesson in not taking unwise chances, especially when there was no safety net!
The years passed; I was a grown woman, married to the love of my life and we had two precious children. My husband and I had answered “the call of God and the wild” and followed in our parents footsteps, serving as missionaries in Rhodesia. Other Nuggets will be written about our years as missionaries but for the purpose of this Nugget I want to recount what happened when it was time for us to return to the States. We needed to report back to the church congregations that had so lovingly supported us. The political situation in Rhodesia had deteriorated badly; it was the height of the terrorist war. We had to notify the appropriate government office plus Barclays Bank that we needed an export permit to allow us to leave the country. This was necessary as we were not returning to the States for a “holiday” but would be gone for at least a year. The permit was granted with these conditions attached. We were allowed to purchase one way plane tickets for the family, plus we would be allowed to take out one thousand Rhodesian dollars but not one penny more! The only personal belongings we could take had to fit in the two suitcases that each member of the family was allowed.
SHOCK #1……….a few days later we received SHOCK #2. All our Bank accounts were immediately frozen along with our money from our Retirement Fund, plus funds of a paid up Life Insurance policy. The condition attached to this wrinkle was our money could not leave the country but would be ours upon our return. There was another condition attached……to prove we intended to remain, we would have to live in Rhodesia for six months BEFORE any funds would be released to us! Basically we had to walk away from our entire lives! We could not touch our support funds in the Bank as they were frozen, except for airline tickets and our one thousand dollar allowance! So we did the only thing we could do. We sold our two vehicles and immediately invested the money in several congregations under our care, to help them finish a church building they were erecting. Then we sent word to many of our Pastors and their wives to come to our house on a particular day very close to our departure date. When they arrived we told them to go through our home and take anything they needed as our gift to them. Literally everything……..the furniture, dishes, kitchenware, bedroom furniture, curtains and carpets. We wanted the house to be bare by the time they all left. One young couple had recently had a baby and had nothing for the baby to sleep in and we had the joy of giving them all the furniture from our baby daughter’s nursery. That day with its tears, laughter and bitter sweet good-byes will be etched in my memory for eternity!
The day our little family walked through the gates at the Salisbury Airport and boarded the plane to catch our connecting flight in Johannesburg, we knew we had NO SAFETY NET waiting for us in the States. There was no home waiting for us, no secure plum job, not even a vehicle, just the waiting arms of loving relatives and friends!
So my dear readers what is the answer to this Nugget. Does the trusting child of God have a SAFETY NET when life rips everything you have and turns your life upside down? I am happy to tell you the answer comes as a clarion call down through the annuals of time……..YES, THERE IS A SAFETY NET IF WE TRUST OUR LOVING HEAVENLY FATHER. God has promised to walk this journey with us!
Isaiah 46:3-4 (NKJV) “Listen to Me, O house of Jacob, And all the remnant of the house of Israel, Who have been upheld by Me from birth, Who have been carried from the womb: Even to your old age, I am He, And even to gray hairs I will carry you! I have made, and I will bear; Even I will carry, and will deliver you.
There have been so many times in our life’s journey when it seemed that we had no safety net but in each case God has proved Himself to be faithful and He has been our safety net. Those memories will be told at another time in another Nugget!