Once upon a time …

… I was in Africa. 

There were lions, and giraffes, and elephants. I stood on the edge of the Great Rift Valley, and slept next to the Mara River. I saw hippo, and rhino, and leopard.

I saw many wondrous things, and met many wonderful people. 

I met a man named Thomas who lived in Khartoum. He had not seen, nor heard from his brother in nine years. He had disappeared in the chaos of civil war. Thomas was caring for his brother’s family. Thomas prays for peace, and his brother’s safe return. 

I met a man whose name I don’t remember, but whose matter of fact words I still hear. There was a drought in the country at the time, and the corn, which should have been almost ready for harvest, was only two feet tall. I asked him what they would do if it didn’t rain soon. He said, “We will die.”

I met missionaries from all over the world. They graciously allowed me to come backstage, as it were, and see the way things are for them. Pretenses fall away quickly in the field. Life there is hard, and lonely, and demanding.

I met a man who was trying to raise money to build a “house” for street kids in his city. A place where children could come and get a meal and spend the night at least one night a week. His city had 20,000 street kids under the age of seventeen. 

When I came home I was keenly aware of the differences between my life here and their lives there.

That was eight years ago next month. 

Now it seems like a story that begins, “Once upon a time…”

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