HOT SPRINGS AND HELICOPTERS
Hot Springs Resort……… I am sure for most Rhodesians this is a place of many sweet memories! Camping under the stars, or in tents, or in caravans (campers) or if you had the money to spend, staying in the Hotel Chalets. No matter what your accommodations were, one thing you could count on; the mosquitoes were as big as horseflies and as hungry as vampire bats, the searing low veld heat was relentless, evening meals cooked over the open fire tasted better than anything you could buy at a 5 star restaurant. But the most delightful memory was soaking in the hot sulfur water in the pool until your legs turned to rubber, then wobbling you way back to camp and sleeping like a baby. So much laughter, new friends made, sunburned limbs and noses, all created in a rural rustic get-away hidden in the middle of the Rhodesian low veld! As a child, my family visited Hot Springs, as a holiday place of choice. Glyn and I spend an idyllic honeymoon staying in the Hotel accommodations and then we returned on several occasions with our children.
In September 1976 we headed for Hot Springs after an exhausting annual Conference that was held at Rufaro Mission. Shortly before this we had bought a second-hand Gypsy caravan. It was very basic – just a table, sleeping bunks and a few storage cupboards, but it kept us off the ground and it was dry in the heavy downpours. We had a canopy that we attached where I set up my “kitchen” with a table and a two burner Coleman gas stove, plus we would “braai” our meat over an open fire. On this particular visit our son was five years old and our daughter was just five months old. While shopping at O.K. Bazaars I had found an adorable yellow polka dot two piece swimming suit that was perfect for the baby. She still had “peach fuzz” for hair, so I concluded that putting her in a little two piece swimming suit would show she was a baby girl. One morning before it became too hot to be out in the baking sun, I was standing in the shallow end of the pool with the baby in my arms, just bouncing her little legs in the warm steamy water. A lady made her way across the pool to me and commented on what a “beautiful baby BOY” I had! REALLY lady, are you serious?
I chuckled and told her that actually the baby was a girl; thus the reason for the “itsy bitsy yellow polka dot bikini”! Unfortunately my attempt at not so subtle humor was lost on the lady!
Each day melted into the next as we enjoyed making memories with our children. One afternoon while we were seeking a good spot in the shade to escape the rays of the burning sun, a different sound intruded on the siesta hour of the campground. It was the distinct sound of the propellers of helicopters that became louder and louder until we realized that three Rhodesian Air Force Alouette helicopters were landing in an open space right in the campground. This caused quite a stir amongst the campers; after all it is not every day that three helicopters with loaded gun turrets, land in your back yard! Naturally in a matter of minutes our brave soldiers in their bush camouflage were greeted by curious campers. Our son was in his glory as he was able to get up close to the machines of his dreams, while the soldiers showed friendly appreciation to their gawking admirers’. The leader of the group explained that they had received a tip that a group of terrorists were hiding somewhere in the bush near Hot Springs so they felt their presence would be a deterrent for an ambush on the campers and guests in the Hotel. I assure you we ALL were very grateful for our “protecting angels” who dropped out of the sky, especially as darkness began to creep in. The terrorist war was ramping up and Hot Springs would be such an easy soft target because of its fairly remote location in the bush. The next day the helicopters took off and we later heard on the news that contact had been made and they had successfully routed the group of terrorists from their hiding place and captured them. We were so thankful to these brave young men who fought long and hard to protect the citizens of Rhodesia, both black and white! Many of them made the ultimate sacrifice and gave their lives while loyally serving their country.
So many times during our years in Rhodesia we experienced God’s protection. Sometimes it was through human intervention, as was the case at Hot Springs, other times we could only believe that God miraculously intervened.
I wonder how many times you and I have avoided a catastrophic event without ever knowing it because God stepped in behind the scenes? I believe firmly that God has been and will continue to be involved in the events of our lives even when we don’t recognize His Presence. This should give us a calm re-assurance in these turbulent times. If fear of what the future holds is stalking your every hour then take heart, God has promised His Presence and protection.
Draw strength my friends from the promises in Psalm 121 – allow the words of this Psalm to permeate your very being and throw your trust upon the One who is able to deliver each one of us.
Psalm 121:1-8 (NKJV)
1 I will lift up my eyes to the hills– From whence comes my help?
2 My help comes from the LORD, Who made heaven and earth.
3 He will not allow your foot to be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber.
4 Behold, He who keeps Israel Shall neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The LORD is your keeper; The LORD is your shade at your right hand.
6 The sun shall not strike you by day, Nor the moon by night.
7 The LORD shall preserve you from all evil; He shall preserve your soul.
8 The LORD shall preserve your going out and your coming in From this time forth, and even forevermore.