Monthly Archives: December 2016

A Christmas Eve Rescue

Flooded low level bridge in Zimbabwe

Flooded low level bridge in Zimbabwe

A CHRISTMAS EVE RESCUE

Psalm 124:2-5 (NKJV)
“If it had not been the LORD who was on our side……..
Then the waters would have overwhelmed us, the stream would have gone over our soul;
Then the swollen waters would have gone over our soul.”

These verses bring to mind an experience that I had as a child. It was Christmas Eve on a sultry hot African morning. Mom woke my elder sister, Suzanne and I just as the sun was making its appearance on the horizon and told us that we were going with Dad, to take the 4 hour trip to Rufaro Mission Station that was under my parents care. Dad was taking supplies to the mission school and checking that all was well. We leaped out of bed in anticipation as we knew this would be a fun filled day. I loved going to Rufaro mission station; it had been my home for many years and I knew every nook and cranny of the rocky outcrops that were a paradise for a little red-headed gal who had a vivid imagination! Snakes, scorpions and all sorts of other creepy wonders abounded among the rocks, which only added to the thrill of my explorations! Mom packed us a picnic lunch to eat once we arrived at the mission station and promised a lovely hot meal would be waiting in the evening upon our return.

Once we arrived Dad immediately began to unload supplies plus we had some Christmas treats to give to the workers and children. We noticed brooding storm clouds begin to roll on the horizon but really did not pay attention to them. We downed our lunch with relish, picked fruit from the orchard to take home and then headed out on the four hour return journey home.

By now the heavens had opened and we were driving through a typical summer African thunderstorm. There were several small towns between the mission station and our home. As we approached the one town the low level bridge which spanned the river, had rising flood water lapping right under the bridge and soon it would be covered by the raging torrent. We still had another bridge to cross which concerned Dad to no extent.
Flash floods were a common occurrence in the hot rainy season and none of our bridges were high level bridges. On the other side of the town of Enkeldorn, we rounded a corner and there before our eyes was a sight that would instill fear in the bravest heart. The river had come down in flood and was rushing at least 5 feet deep across the bridge.

Christmas Eve and we were trapped between two flooded rivers with absolutely no way to communicate with Mom why we had not come home!
It was not long and other cars began to line up on the road – we were all in the same plight. It looked as though we all were going to spend the night, sleeping in our cars and in many cases with no food and very little water.
Finally the torrential rain stopped and soon strangers became friends, little camp-fires sprung up beside the stranded cars and people were sharing their meager supplies with each other.
We were stranded a mere two hour drive from home- so close yet so far and no lines of communication available to let the waiting families know whether we were safe or not!
For Suzanne and me this was a great adventure but Dad knew that Mom would be very worried.

Around midnight those of us huddled around our little camp fires heard a shout over the sound of the rushing water. A farmer had arrived with a span of oxen and as soon as the waters had receded enough over the bridge, so as to not totally submerge our vehicles, he would hitch a car to the oxen and with a brave man leading the oxen pull the cars through. Slowly one by one, with each vehicle being pulled by the oxen, we made the treacherous crossing. The flood waters rushed against the sides of the car and even over the hood but the oxen’s feet were sure and pulled us to safety and dry ground. Finally around 4:00 AM Christmas day we pulled into our driveway to the waiting arms of our mother – it was good to be home!

The Psalmist David speaks in these verses of the overwhelming waters in his own life. (Psalm 124)
David was a man of many profound experiences and he knew what it was to have the flood waters of trial dash against his noble soul. Yet David knew the source of his strength and help came from the Lord who was his constant companion!

The Lord is ever by the side of His own. God is our protector and defender from all cunning and malicious foes. We may be tossed about by swirling flood waters but we will never be submerged. These turbulent waters can represent floods of opposition, reproach, temptation, sin and suffering beating against our frail boat. BUT, our comfort is in the Lord who has promised to always be at our side and be our helper.

There is a three fold promise in Psalm 124 for you and I to embrace:

Note the testimony of the JUST: “The Lord was on our side…” (Verse 2)
Note the triumph of the PRESENT: “Our soul has escaped…” (Verse 7)
Note the trust for the FUTURE: “Our help is in the name of the Lord…” (Verse 8)

With such a three fold promise we should never yield to defeat or despair! Let the proud waters roar, let the wicked enemies gnash their teeth and the satanic hunter do his utmost to trap us, WE WILL NOT FEAR FOR GOD IS EVER OUR SHIELD AND FORTRESS!

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Rhodesian Rains

Suzanne & me at Rufaro Mission, Rhodesia

Suzanne & me at Rufaro Mission, Rhodesia

RHODESIAN RAINS

There was a heavy brooding atmosphere hanging on the air, which made the searing Rhodesian sun sap what little moisture was left in the parched fields. We needed rain in the worst way; our small reservoir on the Mission station was fast drying up. We needed that reservoir as it was our main source of drinking water for the dairy herd. We also needed the rain so the newly planted maize seed could germinate and give us a good crop to help feed the school children and our staff at Rufaro Mission.

Dad walked into the house, perspiration gleaming on his face and sat wearily on a chair at the table while Mom made some tea to quench his thirst. I came dragging in behind him also needing something to drink to cool me down. I had been with Dad who was checking on several new calves in our cow kraal (corral). I had fun rubbing their velvety ears while Dad and Tubeho made sure the hay in their pen was clean. Even though it was a short walk back to the Mission house the overbearing heat drained us of energy. We could see clouds building on the horizon and Tubeho commented that “his bones” were telling him that a big storm was coming. To my six year-old mind I found Tubeho’s prediction amusing as “my bones” were not “talking to me”! Dad chuckled and responded that he hoped Tubeho’s bones were telling the truth as we sorely needed rain.

While Dad was sipping his tea a rattling began on the galvanized iron roof. A wind had suddenly picked up, jumping off my chair I ran out onto the veranda; trees were starting to be buffeted, dust was flying and dry leaves were soaring like paper airplanes.  There was something different about this wind though it had a unique fingerprint. This was not just a dry hot summer wind but a wind that was the promise of rain; it carried a distinctive scent; the smell of approaching life giving rain! Excitedly I ran back in the house and announced with all the drama I could muster that Tubeho’s bones were right, as I too could smell the rain in the wind!

Thunder began to rumble in the distance and huge black ominous clouds were racing closer to the Mission.  A storm was about to burst on us…………yes the long a-waited rains had arrived! Everyone was galvanized into frantic activity making sure rain barrels were ready to catch water, windows closed, securing anything that could be become a flying projectile as the wind grew stronger.

Our resident troop of monkeys that lived in the tall stand of Gum trees (Eucalyptus trees) were shrieking to one another as they sought safe shelter, the chickens in the chicken run followed suit and scurried into the hen house and the family gathered in the living room to wait for the storm.

Our Mission house was built at the base of a granite rock Kopjie (hill). It was a paradise for snakes, scorpions, lizards and even small wild animals. It also acted like a magnet to lightning, which could be very dangerous if one unwisely took shelter under one of the big granite boulders during a storm.

Finally the storm was upon us. Thunder began booming with earsplitting peals, jagged forked lightning sounded like machine gun shots as it danced from boulder to boulder on the Kopjie.

Torrential rain began to pound on the iron roof of the Mission house, sounding like the beat of wild galloping horses’ hooves which was quite deafening. It was just a matter of minutes before rivulets of water began rushing down the Kopjie, carving deep ruts in our dirt driveway as they rushed down through the garden and orchard to our reservoir.

A persistent dripping on the concrete floor was a well-known signal that the old roof was leaking again. The old Mission house had seen better days! Mom put a bucket under the leak and Dad made a mental note of which sheet of galvanized iron would need replacing.

Finally the storm passed by; we stepped out onto the veranda; puddles and little rivulets were everywhere but the oppressive brooding atmosphere was gone and in its place was the beautiful smell of sweet watered ground breathing new life. A breathtaking rainbow arched the sky touched by the Master painter’s brush; Dad broke the silence with an exclamation of praise to the Lord for His blessing of the much needed rain.

With the rains came a new set of problems though. Little dry streams turned into angry raging torrents that frequently cut us off from reaching nearby towns. In these early days in Rhodesia most of the bridges over rivers were low level bridges; so they too would become impassable until the water receded. Our mission road from the house to the school, dormitories and our church building had been washed out in several places. This would need immediate attention.  Some of the buildings had leaks which also would need repairing.  But this would all be taken in stride as to any Rhodesian living during this early era of time; these were merely everyday hurdles that would be overcome. Missionary families, farmers and homeowners alike were accustomed to living a rugged lifestyle and wouldn’t trade it for a life of luxury because they had chosen to invest their lives in the sands of this remarkable country.

Seven decades have passed since this experience took place, yet it lives on in my heart and memory as bright and vivid as though it took place yesterday. God burned a deep love in my heart for Rhodesia, the land of my birth and eventually it would be the land of our joint ministry as missionaries for my husband Glyn and me. What a rich heritage we have had……..yes…… we walked through some deep painful valleys but the joys of reaching  precious African people with the truth of the Word of God far outweighs the hard times we experienced!

 

 

Childhood Memory

Elephants Michael North Photography (Used with permission)

Elephants Michael North Photography
(Used with permission)

A RESTING PLACE

John 14:27 (NKJV) “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

Peace is not a hallowed feeling that comes over us in church; it is the repose of a heart whose roots are set deep in the ocean of God’s love!! These are not roots that can easily be plucked out by the clawing winds of the dark storms that stalk our path during times of deep despair & devastating sorrow; nor wither from the heat of the fiery trials whose scorching flames lick at the path we walk; these are roots which never tire of growing ever deeper into the rich soil of God’s sustaining Word. He gives us a peace that is beyond human understanding. Philippians 4:7 (NKJV) “.. and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

While musing on this nugget I was reminded of the time in my childhood in Rhodesia Africa, when we as a family would take our yearly pilgrimage to the coast. Excitement would be running high as we children went to bed the night before the trip as we knew that Dad & Mom would scoop us up while we were still asleep, nestling us down in the back seat of the car with pillows and blankets around us like cocoons; in order to set forth in the wee hours of the cool of night on our the three day “trek” to the ocean.  Between South Africa and Rhodesia lay a high craggy range of mountains that separated the two countries. Our roads were very primitive, so it was no small feat to traverse this treacherous escarpment. The very narrow, apology for a road, wound its way around and around edging ever higher to the peak of the escarpment before descending sharply to the flat land that lie before us. I remember clearly that the road was carved out of the mountain side; towering brooding rocks hemmed us in on one side, with terrifying precipices dropping off into a sightless abyss, on the other side. Adding to the danger, there was no railing of any kind to protect you from the precipice!  As our vehicle crawled up this dangerous road the heat gauge would start climbing, we needed a place to rest….but where? Suddenly around one of the hair-pin bends we see a “place of escape”! The road crews had blasted a “rest area” into the side of the precipice – what a welcome site! A bubbling mountain stream sang a whimsical song as it trickled over the rocks, bringing a sense of calmness and peace to our weary bodies. We rested, ate delicious sandwiches that my mother’s loving hands had prepared and drank in the refreshing coolness that the “rest area” provided. By the time we all climbed back into the car we were more than ready to face the treacherous road that lay before us! Friends avail yourself today of the “place of escape” that the Lord has provided, drink deeply at the fountain of His peace and draw Divine strength from His sustenance and you will find that you are more than ready to step back onto the path that you are walking!

Listen for the Song

White breasted Bee eater. By Michael North Imagery (Used with permission)

White breasted Bee eater. By Michael North Imagery (Used with permission)

LISTEN FOR THE SONG

Music is the language of the soul. It comes in many forms some raucous, loud, jarring; some created by master musicians whose subtle notes cause the hearer’s emotions to soar to lofty heights. Then there is music that is part of the foundation of our faith which brings comfort and courage to the seeking hearts. There is another source of music that is pristine in its beauty yet many never hear it. It is the song that comes from nature that fills our daily lives which many drown out with the distractions of this modern life.

Among my cherished memories are the times when we lived in remote areas in the bush of Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) and hearing the songs of the bush. For the initiated ear the African bush is never truly silent. Dawn arrives, drifting softly in satin slippers gently rousing the bird life first. Before the crimson fingers of the rising sun have touched the Masasa trees the birds announce the new day, with melodies that defy the imagination. As I became familiar with the bird songs I learned to identify the different species by their trilling calls.

Slowly the rest of the animals in the bush begin to stir. The night prowlers find their chosen place of rest for the day and the animals that feed and play during the day begin to vocalize to one another. Baby elephants squealing in play; while the mothers give off deep rumbles, keeping their energetic babies in line. The sharp “bark” coming from a herd of Springbok heading to the river for a morning drink, signals to all the animals in the surrounding area that a predator is on the prowl. If one is patient and silent you might even hear the “chirp” of baby cheetahs calling their mother. The sounds of the African bush floating gently on the soft winds become a cacophony of songs that is a balm to the soul. There is one requirement though. In order to fully immerse your senses in the songs of the bush veld you have to take the time to stop and “listen”! Your ear needs to be tuned for the songs just as a mother’s ears are tuned for the faintest cry of her child.

Having spent so many years in Africa I developed a deep love and appreciation for its sounds which were music to my heart. As a result music has played a vital role through-out my life and even in my relationship with God. During times of deep heart-ache God has always given a song; during times of joy there was a song……yes……in every season of my life I have found the “song of God’s heart” by listening for it. I assure you, just as the trumpeting of an African elephant close by will give you a rush of adrenaline, so too God has a song that will cause your heart to race or stir you to tears!

Do you want to soar with the eagles to the loftiest mountain peaks? The song from God’s heart will take you there!

Do you long for a place of peace? Listen and the song from God’s heart will carry you to “green pastures” where you can rest and bathe your soul in His melodies that minister peace.

There is a song for all to hear but we must silence all the other voices demanding our attention and LISTEN FOR THE SONG!

Exodus 15:2 (NKJV) 2 The LORD is my strength and song, And He has become my salvation; He is my God, and I will praise Him; My father’s God, and I will exalt Him.