“I had seen the royal lion, before sunrise, below a waning moon, crossing the grey plain on his way home from the kill, drawing a dark wake in the silvery grass, his face still red up to the ears, or during the midday-siesta, when he reposed contentedly in the midst of his family on the short grass and in the delicate, spring-like shade of the broad Acacia trees of his park of Africa. All these things were pleasant to think of when times were dull on the farm. And the big game was out there still, in their own country. I could go and look them up once more if I liked. Their nearness gave a shine and play to the farm. Farah, -although with time he came to take a vivid interest in farm affairs,-and my old native Safari-servants, lived in hope of other Safaris…When you have caught the rhythm of Africa, you find that it is the same in all her music.” ~ Out of Africa, Isak Dinesen, pp. 15-16
Today my friend Ruth and I were talking about our longing to go to Africa. I have never been, but I cannot wait to go. Several years ago, Ruth was a missionary in Uganda, with her husband Dave and their children for a year. Their youngest daughter Abi, now 3 years old, was born in Africa during their time on the mission field.
This week, after seeing another missionary’s video at church of his work at an African orphanage, Abi said in her sweet, little voice, “Mommy, I want to go there!” She has heard the stories of Africa from her parents, but something in her heart remembers on its own.
Abi, I want to go, too! Ruth and I discussed God’s perfect timing ~ how He puts desires into our hearts, and then seems to make us wait forever! But God knows when is best. He is preparing the soil of my heart for Africa even now, primarily through praying for it. The needs are great there.
Ruth’s mom, Alma Jones, is there now, ministering, even while battling pneumonia and malaria. She is part of God’s wonderful work in Africa through the organization, House of Friends. http://houseoffriends.org/missionary.html.
I would also love to go on a safari when I go, seeing the lions, tigers, elephants, giraffes, zebras, hippos, rhinos, buffalo, so many of God’s beautiful, wild creatures. I am not naive. No, Africa is not safe. An intense book on African safaris and Africa’s unpredictability is Dangerous Beauty: Life and Death in Africa: True Stories From a Safari Guide (Hyperion, New York, 2001).
The author, Mark, was one of 31 people captured, with ten murdered by rebels, in the jungle along the border between Uganda and the Congo, as he and his safari group were looking for mountain gorillas. The story he tells is one of surreal terror, and yet compelling…and in the end, somehow, you still want to go to Africa, although with much more trepidation now.
He writes, “In spite of the brutal horrors and “forever” scars of the violent crimes at Bwindi, I still live in Kenya and still love being out on safari.” (p. 306). How is this possible, after what he and the others went through? There is just something about this continent that stirs your heart.
Another excellent book is Out of Africa, by Isak Dinesen (Random House, New York, 1937).
The movie Out of Africa with Meryl Streep is one of my favorites, although I object to Karen’s immoral relationship with Denys. Even after she is almost attacked by lions on safari, she tells Denys she is glad she came. As I watch Meryl portraying Karen Blixen at her desk, writing a letter, remembering the colors of Africa, I am undone.
Ruth did not face lions in Uganda. But she told me today how malaria is prevalent there. Workers who helped her at her house contracted malaria, but still came to help her, saying they would just move a little slower. They are “used to it,” they said. Sadly, many Africans are also very familiar with political unrest, violence, rape, murder, rebels, kidnappings, AIDS, poverty, lack of clean water and food, ethnical tensions, and war.
I will continue to pray for this place, hoping ~ despite all the dangers ~ one day I will go. “Here I am, Lord, send me.”