TREASURES FROM OUR AFRICAN JOURNEY
The day for our departure from Zimbabwe was drawing ever closer. We felt as though we were on a wild emotional roller coaster ride. Dealing with the government officials was like trying to cross a dangerous river on very thin ice and praying you didn’t fall through! We had to get permission to leave the country, then we had to request export permits for a limited list of “treasures” that we hoped to be allowed to ship. Everything seemed to hang on the whim of the government official’s mood of the day! As soon as we applied for an export permit the government officials immediately froze our bank accounts including our Retirement funds and Life Insurance monies. The reality was that they were allowing us to leave with two suitcases per adult member and one thousand Zimbabwean dollars in cash.
It felt as though our entire lives were being stripped from us with absolutely no recourse of appeal, even though what we were forced to leave behind were our “earthly treasures” that represented so much of what Rhodesia/Zimbabwe meant to us.
This was the land of our birth, the land where we were married, the land of our calling and the land where our children were born. The pain we carried in our hearts was tempered by the knowledge that no matter where our future path would lead us, God would provide, somehow, someway! The only way to survive the wrenching agony of leaving the people who had become our “spiritual children” was to keep our focus on God and His plan even though we did not understand!
On the week we were to fly, we sent messages to all our African Pastors in the surrounding areas to come to our home and take whatever they needed. The morning of the appointed day, we laid out a large tarpaulin on the lawn and began laying out dishes, housewares of every kind and an assortment of odds and ends. I was kneeling on the tarpaulin sorting through the dishes and became aware that I was holding a delicate china tea service that had been a wedding gift from one of our bridesmaids. I ran my hand gently over the tea cup with memories flooding my being. Tears began to flow of what we were being forced to leave behind. Then I sensed the comforting presence of the Lord, reminding me that these were merely earthly “treasures” that would count for nothing in the light of eternity.
Soon the Pastoral families began to arrive! The air was filled with exclamations of joy as they were able to help themselves to household items they never dreamed of having. Then we took them into the house and told them to help themselves to any pieces of furniture they could use. I discovered a Pastor& his wife, (names not given for their safety), standing in our nursery with their eyes wide with wonder. We had a crib, a changing table and a rocking chair. I knew they had four children and had just had a new baby. They ministered in a remote village and were living in very primitive conditions. I smiled and told them to take everything in the room. Tears of gratitude began to flow as the reality of what I had told them sunk in. God enabled us in “our loss” to use what was stripped from us, to bless so many of our African Pastors! Our “treasures” became their blessing!
The day of our departure was a bitter/sweet day. Some of our Bible School students and a few local Pastors gathered to bid us a fond farewell. Yes there were tears but there also was the assurance that we would meet again at God’s appointed time, if not on this earth then when we gathered around His Throne.
Our son was 6 years old and our daughter was 18 months old. Russel was so excited to get to fly but Donna-Mae was terrified! The moment the plane began to taxi to the runway she began to cry, buried her head on my lap, grabbed her blanket covering her head and sobbed herself to sleep! I was relieved she fell asleep and I am pretty sure the passengers sitting around us felt the same way!
As the plane taxied down the runway and then began to soar I watched with such mixed feelings as I recognized landmarks, never to be forgotten and “treasures” that were etched deep in my heart.
You see a piece of our hearts lies in the soils of Zimbabwe ; our infant son was laid to rest at a cemetery just outside of the city of Harare. This was a treasure that never could be taken from us! Also as I saw the villages dotting the landscape beneath us and realized that in many of those villages were “treasures” who we had the privilege of introducing to the Lord. These were the “treasures” that moths, rust or thieves could not steal; but were eternal treasures!
My heart was at rest as we winged our way to a new adventure that God had planned for us!
I am reminded of this scripture as I close this Nugget:
Matthew 6:19-21 (NKJV) “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”