Category Archives: Lessons from the African Bush

Nuggets from lessons we experienced in the African bush as missionaries.

Lessons from a Silkworm

(Life cycle of a silkworm)


I wonder how many of my readers kept silkworms as a hobby, when they were young.
As a child and early teenager, living in Rhodesia, I was among a host of avid silkworm keepers! Mom learned to her cost never to check the contents of random boxes I might have in my bedroom; as there was no telling what “creepy crawly” she would find.
I had an insatiable appetite to investigate, to study, to observe and to collect everything that nature had to offer me. The African veld was my classroom and there was no shortage of specimens just waiting to captivate my ever curious mind!

As soon as the Mulberry trees produced their lush spring leaves, I would prepare a shoe box with some holes for air then add some fresh leaves and several dozen silkworm eggs, which were ready to hatch. The moment the eggs started hatching my work began. Daily I would replenish the mulberry leaves as the tiny worms were voracious eaters. They grew at an amazing rate; the bigger they got the more leaves they required. Once they developed to a larger size you could actually hear them munching on the leaves. I kept the shoe box in my bedroom, so I could keep an eye on their need for fresh foliage.
Once full grown the worms would start spinning a cocoon of delicate silk around their own bodies until they were totally encased. At this stage the worms turns into a pupae which is the next stage in their development.

It takes about 2 – 3 weeks for the pupa to metamorphose into an adult moth. The fully developed moth eats a small hole in the cocoon and slowly with MUCH effort squeezes its way out of the confining shell to freedom. The process of literally forcing its body through the small opening has a purpose. The pressure of forcing its way out facilitates the needed inner pressure to cause the wings to open. Without this stage of development the moth will have deformed wings.

I have painted this picture for you as it is an example of our walk with God in life’s journey.
There are many stages we all go through in life.
There will be times of plenty when provision and needs are easily met without too much effort on our part. We feast on the goodness of God and draw nourishment from His Word.

Then something happens, circumstances beyond our control causes us to feel isolated, so we spin a web of protection around ourselves and stay in our “cocoon” to prevent enemies from hurting us.
During the time spent in our “cocoon” is when we actually need to be drawing strength from the “food of God’s Word” that we feasted on during our time of plenty.
We are in a season of waiting and change!

The time will come to emerge from our “cocoon” and get back into the battle of life. This is where many become discouraged and lose heart, thinking that they might as well give up trusting God and just quit!
Before we quit and give up in discouragement though, we need to consider the long and difficult process by which the silkworm emerged from its cocoon.
If we try to rush God’s purpose and process in our life, we will only produce something deformed – something that can’t get off the ground and fly spiritually.

Perhaps this Nugget has struck a chord in your heart. Maybe you are thinking, “I can’t wait for this to be over.” That’s understandable and very normal, so don’t beat yourself up!
Job had the same thoughts during his time of deep suffering but he drew from the well of his faith in God. He said, “All the days of my hard service I will WAIT, till my CHANGE comes.” (Job 14:14)
By God’s grace Job’s faith was rewarded and he ended up with twice as much as he had lost.

So my friends…………. hold on………….the time of your change is coming! God won’t give up on you, so don’t give up on Him!
Take the example of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego who told the heathen king, “We will not bow down to you” (Da 3:18).
Learn from their example!
Don’t bow to temptation, or to manipulation, or to ungodly persuasion.
Don’t try to keep up with the Joneses, or surrender to selfish ambition and self-promotion.
Don’t bow to the spirit of anxiety and impatience.
Don’t give up but WAIT PATIENTLY!

Let me encourage each reader of this Nugget………Continue to walk by faith and not by sight, knowing that “[God] is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all we are able to ask or think” (Eph 3:20).
They say, “Good things come to those who wait.” God has a purpose for us during the time of waiting and change.
God will make the pieces of the puzzle of our life, fit together. His plans for you and I will not disappoint us, so we have nothing to fear!



Mission Jeep of many parts-used 1953-1955 parts(Glyn. Henry and Dad, Willard Wilson beside the old Mission Jeep)

Psalm 91 was a reality more than once in our years in Africa.
This Nugget is a memory from the period in Rhodesia when Glyn and I were doing missionary work alongside my parents, Willard & Florence Wilson.

We as a family, my Dad, mother, younger sister Carolyn, younger brother Henry, Glyn and I, loaded up our trucks and made the long journey to Gobatema mission station, in the Tuli Tribal Trust Lands. For the men to do some much needed repairs to the ancient Mission Jeep, and to check on the mission school.

This was the mission station where I was born and was deep in the bush, totally isolated from civilization, it was extremely primitive with no electricity or running water in the ram-shackled mission houses.
Leopards would regularly prowl the compound in the night hours; snakes and an assortment of tropical creepy crawlies, plus 120 degree heat, were our constant companions!
Twenty seven years later the living conditions at the mission station was still the same as it was in my formative years!

After a very dusty, spine rattling journey we finally arrived at dusk and settled in one of the less dilapidated mission houses for the night.
Carolyn and I were sleeping in a room that served as a bedroom/office. Dad and Mom had the main bedroom; Glyn and Henry were sleeping on low camp cots in the living room.

I was disturbed in the night, so lit the candle by my bed only to find a snake curled up by my slippers. I woke my sister and ask her to help me kill the snake.
I was concerned that it would crawl into the sleeping bags where Glyn and Henry were sleeping; as their camp cots were just a few inches off the cement floor.
Carolyn took one look at the snake, pulled her blankets tighter around her and promptly became my “cheer-leader”. She had no intentions of getting mixed up in this fight!!

So I gingerly stepped out of bed grabbed the only thing I could reach, which turned out to be my shoe and as hard as I could, I pounded the unsuspecting snake on the head.
Then in a moment of brilliant “feminine logic”, I pounded the other end of the now writhing snake in case I had mistaken its tail for its head!
Glyn and Henry were awakened by the noise and asked if we were killing mosquitoes; I informed them that I was killing a snake!
Much laughter ensued to my announcement and our two “knights in shining armor” rolled over and went back to sleep!

The next morning the guys told Mom about our “imagined” night visitor; she came running into the room asking what I did with the snake. Rubbing sleep from my eyes I pointed under the desk where I had “stashed” my trophy until morning light; but on closer inspection the snake was gone!
After much teasing and tormenting over breakfast we came to the conclusion that in the night one of the large numerous geckos, that ran freely on the rafters, (the house had no ceilings just rough rafters), had found the dead snake and hauled it away for a midnight snack.

As humorous as this event was, it was one of the many examples in our lives of the verses of Psalm 91 in action! For me, Psalm 91:13-14 was a reality that night.

Psalm 91:13-14 (NKJV) “You shall tread upon the lion and the cobra, The young lion and the serpent you shall trample underfoot. “Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him on high, because he has known My name.”

So my friends, in this day of terrible evil THERE IS A PLACE OF SAFETY for the child of God.
Do not allow fear to rule in your hearts during these difficult times.
According to Hebrews 10, we have an open invitation to run into the presence of our Lord and dwell in the secret place under His wings at the mercy seat.
This is where God meets with us, where His glory is revealed to us, where He gives us guidance and shows us His will. His shadow is a strong protection!

Rest in this knowledge, as He has promised us a place of safety, security and peace in any situation that impacts our lives!
Today hold onto this promise that the Lord gave us:

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.




(Church in Tuli Tribal Trust Land, village)

The early missionaries to Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) faced circumstances that this modern generation can’t even begin to relate to. One of the reasons I am committed to writing these Nuggets of how God manifested His power and love to the primitive tribes that my parents, Willard and Florence Wilson and then Glyn and I ministered to; is to record the “ Acts of God” in these early days of spreading the Gospel.

Once again the mission compound was a hive of activity. The old mission truck was being loaded up with an assortment of camping gear, medical supplies, water supplies, food supplies and even grain bags of ground corn meal to give to the villagers. Dad and Mom were taking a trip to a remote village in the bush. Several families in that village had travelled on foot through the bush to come to some services that had been held in our “brush arbor” church that we had at Gobatema Mission. They returned to their village full of joy; sharing the news with the rest of the villagers about this “new God” that had a heart full of love. He was not like their heathen gods who held them captive with fear.
The result was that the Chief sent a messenger asking the “white missionary” to visit the village and tell him about this “strange God”.

I loved going on these camping trips into the bush. It was a great adventure into the wild unknown! We never knew what we would find around the next bush or dry riverbed we were bouncing through. This was prime leopard country, lion country, snakes paradise, plus a whole assortment of antelope and the usual variety of creepy-crawlies! Each hour we travelled brought a new set of challenges; flat tire #2; getting stuck trying to negotiate a rocky gully and exciting encounters with wild animals.
We finally arrived at the village as the sun was starting to drop below the horizon, sending streaks of crimson hues racing across the sky.
The traditional ceremonial greetings would have to wait as we were fast losing light and needed to set up camp before total darkness engulfed us. The African helpers we brought along, got busy making a campfire and constructing a makeshift “kitchen” from rickety poles cut from near-by trees, with a tarpaulin stretch across them.
We would sleep on the back of the big truck for our protection from wild animals and a fire would be kept going all night to deter any curious, leopards, lions or hyenas from coming into camp.
Each individual had their assigned task which they focused on.

Finally the frantic activity ceased, camp was set up. The warmth from the dancing flames of our campfire and the soft yellow light from the “hurricane lanterns” brought a sense of security and an air of tired relaxation began to settle in as the sounds and smells of the evening meal being prepared, wafted across the night air.

Suddenly a faint flickering light pierced the darkness, slowly coming closer to our camp. We had visitors! A delegation of the village elders had arrived to greet us. They squatted on their haunches in a semi-circle in total silence, until Dad greeted them in their dialect.
I sat fascinated at the scene unfolding before me; lengthy cordial greetings were exchanged; finally the purpose of their visit was revealed.
The Chief requested the presence of the “white missionary” the next morning when the sun was just above the trees; so that he could explain to the gathered villagers about the missionary’s God.
Dad knew this was only just the beginning of a long dialogue that could last well over a week.

We had come well equipped for the long haul, so we settled down for the night. I snuggled on my camping mattress, listening intently to the sounds of the African bush permeating the darkness of the African night. The drifting smoke from the camp fire mingled with the calls of night animals enveloped me like a warm blanket. These night sounds held no terror for me as I loved the bush and no matter how primitive our camping conditions might be; this was home! I drifted off to sleep to the calls of a troop of Bush babies and the gentle musical hooting of an owl in a nearby tree.

The next morning after breakfast, we gathered at the appointed meeting place and the discussions began in earnest. Dad shared the simple truths of the Gospel in terms these primitive people could understand; he was well aware that we were the first “white-skins” most of the people had ever seen. It was imperative we win their trust, if they were to believe the message we were carrying.
Several days passed with the villagers gathering to “hear more” of the missionary’s words.

While the adults were hanging onto the words that Dad and Mom were sharing, the African children were totally intrigued with me! Not only did I have white skin but my hair was the color of “red hot embers”. Each morning, I would sit on a stool while Mom brushed my unruly curls and then braided my hair and without fail there would be a crowd of giggling children watching!

Finally the time arrived for us return to the Mission Station and Dad knew that he did not want to leave without a promise from the Chief, that he would grant us a piece of ground to build a small church on, for the new congregation to worship in. One of our mission-trained deacons was going to remain in the village and continue to minister to the villagers.
Dad requested a formal audience with the Chief and his advisors and presented his desire to build a church. The chief’s response took the wind out of Dad’s sails! He said he would be happy to allow a church to be built in his village PROVIDED Dad agreed to sell ME as a “child-bride” for his young son. He sweetened his offer by saying that he was willing to pay 350 head of cattle as the “Labola” (dowry) for me because of my FIERY RED HAIR. This represented a huge bride price……. An offer that normally would never be rejected………….now what was Dad to do?

Dad realized he was treading on ground where even angels fear to tread. If he rejected the chief’s offer out of hand it could result in hostilities that would fracture what little trust we had built with the Chief and villagers. On the other hand he was not about leave his five-year old red-head to be kept as a “child-bride’!
He sat silent for a while, asking God to give him the words of wisdom to answer the Chief’s offer. Then using a parable style picture that the Chief could relate to; Dad explained our western “customs of marriage versus the tribal customs” showing clearly that he would anger “our elders” if he agreed to the Chief’s offer.
God was in his reply as the Chief fully understood what Dad was attempting to explain. He bowed in respect to Dad’s desire to not betray the “white missionary’s” custom. The tension was immediately broken, smiles were breaking out on the faces of the listeners, hands were shaken and the Chief gave his official nod for a church building to be built and our deacon to hold church services.

The result of this visit was that the Chief, his family and most of the villagers accepted the teachings of the Word of God and a thriving church flourished in that place of darkness.
I am reminded of the Lord’s words to Peter:

Matthew 16:18-19 (NKJV) And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

It is amazing what unlikely events or things God will use to accomplish His plans for the life of His children! In Dad’s case, God used his feisty re-headed daughter to accomplish His Divine plan for the remote African village.
Let me encourage your hearts today. Never under-estimate what God can do in your life and what lengths He will go to, in answer to your prayers!

An Eye for Eternity

Birchenough Bridge 1966

Birchenough Bridge, Zimbabwe in 1966 Taken by Glyn Davies


Yesterday our Pastor preached a heart stirring message that impacted me deeply. He challenged us to not allow our desire and focus of our heavenly home to be clouded by the “politically correct fodder” that is spreading like wild-fire, and the desire to amass worldly trappings, in this present life. It is so easy in this modern generation to get side-tracked, following the crowds who choose the “wide path” of ease and self-indulgence.
Musing over Pastor’s challenge last night I was reminded of an incident that brought this truth home to me in living color.

I had been outside pruning some of our bushes, even though it was a very hot and humid day. Now before those of you who know me well, start lecturing me, that I am not meant to be doing this type of work; just remember, I have a very independent streak and am not quite ready for a rocking chair!

Once the heat began to get to me, I came into the house to rest for a few minutes.
Turning on the ceiling fan, I stretched out in my recliner to “re-charge” my strength.
While laying there enjoying the cool air of the fan, I was transported in my “mind’s eye”, back to my childhood years.
I remembered with intense clarity Dad and Mom taking us children to the Hotel at Birchenough Bridge in the Sabi Valley. This was a very dry, hot and inhospitable part of the bush but it had one saving grace. The Sabi River ran through this arid area providing shade and water to the wild life and weary travelers.
This river was spanned by a beautiful single span bridge that for these early pioneer days in Rhodesia, was an engineering feat.
Sprawled on the banks leading up to the bridge was the Birchenough Hotel, which had been built to accommodate curious visitors who came to this very remote area, just to see the wonders of man’s ingenuity.

It just so happened that this area was part of Dad’s District, so we were very familiar with its pristine, primitive surroundings; and was always a highlight for us children when Dad would make at stop at the Hotel and Bridge.

The Birchenough Bridge Hotel was an oasis to escape from the oppressive heat of the day. It had a long veranda that ran around the building. The veranda was lined with ceiling fans and tables to accommodate guests seeking out respite from the relentless heat.
My thoughts carried me back to that moment in time.
I vividly remembered the soft whirl of the fans and the cacophony of sounds from African bush that surrounded us.
Dad and Mom would order tea and cucumber sandwiches and ice cold Cream soda for us children.
I remember seeing the waiters dressed in their crisply starched, white uniforms, walking softly on the concrete floor in their bare feet, delivering our treat of the day.
We would sit and sip our refreshments savoring its wonderful flavor and eat our cucumber sandwiches in total silence.
We were complelely absorbed by the beautiful trills of the song birds and the sounds from the bush; wafting gently to us on the cooling breeze. It seemed that we did not want to break the wonder of the moment with mundane conversation.
Suddenly I was flooded with a yearning to “go back home to that place and time,” as it represented a time of safety, security and peace. The yearning grew with such intensity that I had the sense that if anyone tried to prevent me from returning to “this place of peace and security” I would literally run them over.

This yearning set in motion a far stronger yearning in my heart. The Lord gently reminded me that this is exactly what heaven will be like and that we, as children of God, should have that same driving desire and intensity to make sure nothing stands in our way.
When it is time for us to enter our eternal rest, we will take that quantum step from mortality to immortality without hesitation and a shout of victory!
We, as children of God, need to be so focused on eternity that our vision is not “earth-bound” but “heaven-bound”.
We must not let anything stand in our way, even to the point that if something or someone does impede our eternal focus, we will “run them over”; just as an athlete circumvents the hurdles in the race!
I assure you my friends, Pastor’s morning message was a “tangible experience” for me and a lesson with such intensity, it will not be soon forgotten!
We, as children of God should, live continually with an “eye for eternity” in our focus!

Yes, Hebrews 12:1 & 2 is still in the Book!
Let nothing, absolutely nothing, stand in our way as we run this race that is set before us!

Hebrews 12:1-2 (KJV) “ Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

A Ranger & an Elephant

Elephant at Mana by Marlon du Toit

(Photo by Marlon du Toit – used with permission.)

Anyone that has followed my Nuggets or seen many of my posts and pictures on Face Book can quickly see that I have a long standing love affair with African elephants. Apart from the obvious fact that I was born in Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe), I lived in an era when the country had not yet been tainted by the trappings of the modern world.
I grew up knowing what it was to see these magnificent animals plus many other African animals, in their natural pristine wild setting. As a teenager and subsequent years I read everything I could get my hands on about the character, personality and habits of Elephants; the more I studied them the more I fell in love with them. It goes without saying that these are unique and highly intelligent animals that continually amaze the naturalists that study them.

This Nugget was passed onto me from a friend, who served in the security forces in Rhodesia. I am sharing it because it is a prime example of the nature and intelligence of African elephants.
The setting of this experience took place when the terrorist war in Rhodesia was ratcheting up; heinous and brutal attacks on innocent farmers, villagers, children and missionaries were being perpetrated by bands of roving terrorists.
As missionaries we had been targeted on several occasions. They were even returning to their own villages and killing their own families. It was a time of carnage, heart-ache and tension for our beloved country. The setting for this account takes place in a wilderness sanctuary called Mana Pools.
To any Rhodesian, this place will evoke warm memories of camping or staying in a lodge with so many species of wild-life moving freely in the bush, within sight of the camps. Mana Pools is well known for its elephant population.
Due to the ever increasing problem with poaching, there was a good Game Ranger contingency that patrolled the Mana Pools area daily. Many patrolled on foot and others patrolled with Land Rovers. One of the Game Rangers; who for the purpose of this account I will call “Boet” (to protect the identity of the family), was assigned the perimeter patrol.
He daily did his forays into the deep bush in his trusty bush scarred Land Rover. He carried a radio for communications with base camp, a high powered rifle and the obligatory canvas water bag; that hung on the front of the vehicle providing a source of cool water.
One day he was in a more remote part of the Reserve and he stopped under the shade of an Acacia tree to eat his sandwiches. The serenity of his resting place was disrupted by the entrance of a rather agitated young bull elephant. It would seem he had parked in this particular spot the elephant used for his afternoon siesta!
Boet gently released the clutch and moved a short distance away where he could observe the elephant in relative safety. He appeared alone; probably a young bull that had been kicked out of the herd as he was getting too big and it was time for him to be separated by the matriarch elephant from the babies. Once he moved the elephant relaxed and stood contentedly; while keeping a wary eye on the human intruder. Finally Boet drove off to finish his rounds and headed back to base camp.

Day after day this scenario was repeated! Boet would park under the tree and within a few minutes, his new found friend would arrive letting him know he needed to move!
Over time the elephant became relaxed and comfortable with this strange smelling machine and its human occupant! So Boet decided to try an experiment and slowly got out of the Land Rover and simply stood still beside it. The first couple of times the elephant became agitated but slowly he relaxed and would stand resting under the shade of the tree with what now was his human companion. Weeks passed and Boet gradually built a trust with the elephant, to the point of tossing him dog biscuits which he downed with relish.
Even though Boet had developed a comfortable relationship with the elephant, he did not try touching him as he did not want him becoming too trusting of humans, for fear he would easily become a poacher’s victim.

One morning he was asked to check an area that was not on his normal patrol route, as there had been some reports of a possible poacher camp. Boet headed out bumping along as he followed the animal trails. He reached the area in question and his keen “bush sense” told him something was wrong. The calls of birds, chirping of crickets…..all normal sounds of the African bush had fallen silent and there was an uneasy air prevailing strong enough to give Boet the goose-bumps.
His eyes scanned the tangled bushes then without warning, all hell broke loose. Boet had actually driven into a camp of a band of terrorists and not poachers, as he was expecting.
Four men came out of the undergrowth with their AK 47 assault rifles blazing; Boet was out gunned and outnumbered! As he tumbled from the Land Rover crawling on his belly to hide behind it, he frantically radioed base camp for help, and then began to fire back knowing that it was highly unlikely help could arrive before these four men took him out. If he was going down he was going to go down with a fight! Bullets were flying and hitting the Land Rover, Boet took a hit in the leg but was determined not to give up when suddenly silence reigned.

What had happened? Why had the terrorists not finished him off?
The shriek of an enraged elephant gave him his answer.
Out of nowhere the elephant that Boet had developed a friendship with, came charging through the bush and straight for the terrorists who dropped their weapons and fled for their lives!
Boet was shaking so hard with his brush with death that it took a few minutes to regain his composure. He pulled off his belt and made a tourniquet to staunch the bleeding, then propped himself up against the land rover hoping the ranger team would arrive soon as he could not defend himself if the terrorists came back.
Then the elephant did a strange thing; instead of continuing to chase the fleeing men, he came back and silently stood right beside the disabled vehicle and his injured human friend. He made no attempt to leave; just standing guard until a Patrol of Rangers arrived. Then silently, the elephant melted into the bush as though he knew his duty to Boet was done.

Why had the elephant come when he did as this was not their normal meeting place?
How did he know his kind human friend was in trouble and badly needed help?
I have no answers to these questions but it shows the amazing level of intelligence of these magnificent animals and the result of a trust that had been forged between the Ranger and a wild elephant. Amazingly Boet never ever encountered his wild friend again.

One thing I have learned in my journey with God is that many times God will meet our immediate need from the most unlikely sources!
He has promised His trusting children Divine protection! An example of this promise is:

Psalm 91:11 (NKJV) “For He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways.”

That hot day in the Mana Pools wilderness, God sent an “angel” in the form of an elephant to save Boet from being killed by evil men!

This gives me courage to face my tomorrows no matter how foreboding they appear, for I have a Divine friend who is walking beside me and who is greater than any enemy, or evil plan, that would harm me!
Yes, in today’s world, the “out-look” may be bleak; but I assure you the “up-look” is bright!

Let me close with God’s promise to Joshua of old, which still stands true today.

Joshua 1:9 (NKJV) “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”


Water of Life

Elies on the move by Michael North Imagery

Photographer – Michael North Imagery (Used with permission)

One of the amazing things about the African bush is the symphony of sounds that are carried on the warm breezes during the course of the day and the night. The bush is never truly silent. Each insect, bird or animal has a distinctive musical signature. To those who have had the privilege of spending extended periods of time in the bush, quickly learn to recognize the “music of the heart of Africa” and the can identify its source. The bird calls are prolific, each one with a unique call. Animals both large and small have vocalization among themselves which communicate a variety of emotions that they are experiencing; from fear to contentment.
Throughout the uninhabited bush there are areas where pools of water collect during the rainy season and slowly shrink, eventually drying up at the height of the dry season. These areas are known as “salt pans” and the animals instinctively know how to find them to quench their thirst. It is not uncommon to see a whole spectrum of wild life mingle together around a salt pan as they satiate their thirst.

We have sat in the dubious security of a vehicle or up in a man-made viewing platform near a salt pan for many a pleasant hour. Our presence is not hidden from the animals as they all have a keen sense of smell. As long as we are still and quiet all is well as we do not pose a threat to them. We would sit drinking in the picturesque scene unfolding before us, listening to the distinguishing vocalization of the animals as they intermingled at the water’s edge. In a tree close by the call of the Grey Lourie; more commonly known as the “Go-away bird”; sounded the alarm of our presence. This bird’s call sounds as though he or she is saying “go-away”; to the hearer it instantly symbolizes the wonders of the Rhodesian bush.
A small herd of Impala hesitantly stepped out from the shelter of the scraggy bush and walked carefully to the water’s edge; ever alert even while drinking. Next a mother Warthog with 5 noisy squealing piglets came scampering across the dry sandy approach to the water. Across the salt pan two giraffe made quite the comical site with their front legs spread wide so their long neck could reach the water. Lurking under the surface of the muddy water was a veracious killer; a crocodile, just waiting for an opportunity to grab an animal that was not vigilant. Life in the bush can be cruel, survival of the fittest was lived out daily; but this was very much part of the natural rhythms of life.

Something to the side of our position caught our attention which caused us to hold our breath. As silently as the falling of the morning dew, a herd of elephant had moved within a few yards of where we were seated. It was mind boggling that such large animals could approach us so quietly that we were totally unaware of their presence until they moved into our line of vision. No wonder we love to call them “gentle giants”! They made their way confidently to the salt pan, they feared no enemies. The young elephants entertained us with their antics splashing with gay abandon as they played in the cooling water. Mothers would corral their little ones which strayed too far with gentle rumblings and nudges with their trunks.

Suddenly an eerie silence invaded the scene before us, not even the smallest bird was chirping. What had happened to change the tranquil scene that we were soaking in?
The animals showed their apprehension with every muscle ready for flight, except the elephants. The matriarch of the herd spun around with agility belying her bulk, letting out a powerful shriek while shaking her head. Instantly the herd closed ranks behind her putting the young ones in the center and out of harm’s way. The subject of her ire was the arrival of four lionesses either on the hunt or simply wanting a drink! Smaller animals took the opportunity to flee to the safety of the bush while the elephant Matriarch challenged the lionesses’ right to the salt pan. There was a few minutes of a stand-off but in this case “might was right” and the lions turned and sauntered back into the bush leaving the elephants the victors.
The haunting call of a fish eagle echoing across the valley reminded us that the sun was soon going to be setting; so reluctantly we headed back to “our world” carrying the sights and sounds of the unspoiled Rhodesian veld, at its best. We had a rich heritage that we carry in our hearts no matter where our feet take us!

The refreshment of the life giving waters of the salt pans in Rhodesia reminds me of the account in John 4 of the Samaritan woman’s encounter with Jesus at the well. Now I am sure my readers are scratching their heads and thinking this a quantum leap on my part! Hold steady and follow my line of thinking!
In this passage of scripture we read the account of a Samaritan woman if questionable repute arriving at the well to draw water. To her chagrin she finds a Jewish man sitting at the well that breaks all cultural rules and asks her to draw some water for him to drink. This request from Jesus engages the woman in a conversation and this is where my picture of the Salt Pan comes into play!

You see thirsty animals had to make daily trips to the Salt Pan to drink from its quenching water. They needed that water so survive but it required returning daily.
So too, this Samaritan woman had to make daily trips to the well to draw water as its ability to quench her thirst was limited; it did not last forever.

Jesus explained this principal to the woman and then went on to give her an amazing promise:

John 4:13-14 (NKJV) Jesus answered and said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.”

The animals visiting the Salt Pan would never have the opportunity that the woman of Samaria had offered to her. Jesus was going beyond satisfying the physical thirst and offering the woman an eternal spring that would quench her spiritual thirst and lead her to everlasting life!

Are you tired of the chaos of life and THIRSTY for peace and security? Then drink deeply from the spring that the Lord makes freely available to weary mankind. That divine spring leads to everlasting life and peace.

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)


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.