Laughter is the best medicine, even while enduring tough situations. Most of my Nuggets are memories of our lives in Rhodesia (Zimbabwe), describing what it was like growing up on Mission Stations that were extremely primitive and not an easy life. Many Rhodesian settlers of the era I grew up in, (1940’s and 1950’s), can attest to the fact that to survive you needed to have a backbone of steel, a willingness to work hard, the ability to improvise; along with a good sense of humor. In October of 1969 Glyn and I assumed our missionary duties as a young married couple. Our first home, a rented house, was in the town of Hartley. It was not exactly what you would consider palatial, quite the opposite. The walls were cracked; the roof had seen better days and the floors were nothing but bare concrete that had a red wax polish smeared on them, which required a lot of “elbow grease” to bring up a shine. Humble though the house was, it was our first real home and I felt like a queen. Our furniture was second-hand but it was ours! We had only been in the house a few days when we discovered that we were sharing it with several rather unique occupants. Geckos freely scampered across the ceilings with the help of the sticky pads on their feet. Then there were the spiders which we would find in the most amazing hiding places, like our shoes, our closet, under our bed and many times racing across the floor trying to out run my broom! There was one species of spiders that seemed to multiply daily but we rarely killed them. It was a flat wall spider whose body resembled a coin; their body could grow to be the size of a sliver dollar; so, we had them is numerous sizes and their favorite haunt was on the ceilings. The reason we “lived at peace” with the geckos and wall spiders is they loved to feed on mosquitoes which was a natural deterrent for us, as none of our windows had screens to keep them out. We slept under a mosquito net which protected us from the mosquitoes as well as the creepy crawlies that lived with us. Occasionally a snake would slither in seeking shelter from the heat in the coolness afforded by the concrete floors. These were not welcomed guests as many were poisonous so were speedily dispatched to “snake heaven”.
On one occasion we joined my parents, Willard & Florence Wilson along with my younger brother and sister for a trip to Gobatema Mission; for the men could do some maintenance work on the bore-hole pump. It was a long hot trip as the Mission was 80 miles out in the bush from Bulawayo, which was a three to four-hour drive from our home Hartley. We arrived late in the afternoon, hot, thirsty and VERY dusty. The first order of business was for everyone to wash off the dust. Years earlier Dad had rigged up a large galvanized tank on the roof of the old Mission house and water could be pumped from the bore-hole pump into the tank. The water was brought into the house simply with the “trickle-down effect” by a few pipes in the kitchen and the one room reserved for bathing. It was a small room with nothing but an old-fashioned bathtub sitting in it. We decided that Mom should go first seeing she was the eldest and that would ensure her getting a measure of warm water. Somehow it had escaped our attention that it was the peak of the summer heat with the outside temperatures of plus/minus 132 degrees Fahrenheit; blazing down on the water tank. The water was so hot that mother had to wait for it to cool before enjoying her soak. The rest of the family busied themselves setting up camp cots, starting the old wood stove when suddenly we were startled with shrieks coming from the bathroom. There were no ceilings in the old mission house, just rough rafters covered with galvanized iron sheeting. The water had been so hot the room had filled with steam and the geckos on the rafters began to lose their footing and were dropping into the bathtub in which my unsuspecting mother was ensconced. Dad went in and fished the unwanted swimmers; while the rest of us were reduced to hilarious laughter at the comments coming from the bathroom! Just another day in the life of a missionary!
When we would hold services in the villages and remote areas; at first, we would camp in the back of our truck; then we were able to purchase a tent and finally we bought a used Gypsy caravan. We could only use the caravan when we were going into an area that had a semblance of a road. When the word reached the villagers that we were coming they would prepare us a special “out-house shelter”. This shelter was nothing but tall dried thatch that was bundled and tied together with rawhide, fashioned in a circle with a door less entrance. A hole was dug in the middle of thatch enclosure that was about 3 feet deep with no seat over it, this served as the toilet! It worked great once you figured out how to accommodate yourself without falling over but it had a major drawback. No one had counted on the curiosity of the African children! They were quite convinced that we did not have white skins under our clothing, so when they would see one of us heading to the grass shelter it would not be long and we would have an audience of little eyes peering through the thatch that they had parted! Yes…….just another day in the life of a missionary.
Many more humorous tales are etched in my memories but they will have to be kept for another day! The ability to laugh at ones-self amid harsh circumstances is a gift from God. Being joyful and being quick to laugh is a CHOICE we make. Laughter will drive away the clouds of bitterness and a barren spirit and remind us that there is no experience too trying, that God cannot see us through.
The presence of God in the floods of our lives is better than a ferry-boat.
Yes we will be tried and tested but we will be triumphant; for God Himself, who is mightier than any circumstance is with us.
So my friends rejoice in the Lord today and let laughter fill your heart and soul.
Remember the words of the scripture:
Proverbs 17:22 (NKJV) A merry heart does good, like medicine, But a broken spirit dries the bones.