A Merry Heart

A Merry Heart
August 9, 2017

South Africa- Part 2

Let’s see…where did I leave off in my story last time? Oh yes, I was in South Africa, staring straight up a sand mountain that these horrible people—my former friends—expected me to climb! Question: Have you ever tried to climb a mountain of sand when, with every step, you sink into the ground, up to your nose? It’s kind of an impossible task! Yes, camels do it—bully for them—besides a rather odd hump on my back, I do not in any way resemble a camel.

There was nothing to do but start up the dune: one step forward, 3 steps straight down—vertically; pull my foot out of the 3 feet of sand and put it one step forward and 3 steps straight down—vertically…again. Repeat twice and rest. I did this for about 4 hours…or 10 minutes…and stopped to see how far I had gone. Feeling pretty good despite the circumstances, I looked up anticipating my progress and the great distance I had gone, knowing I must be close to the top of the dune. WHAT? I was still miles from the top! I turned around to see how far I had come and I was still at the bottom—how was that even possible??? HOWEVER, everyone else was at the top—absolutely no comfort.

When I FINALLY reached the top, I heard soothing, reassuring voices saying, “It’s not that bad,” and “It’s a nice, gradual slope,” I stepped to the edge, looked over the precipice, and my “dear missionary friends” morphed into “the enemy!” They lied??? Okay, okay, giving them the benefit of the doubt, at the very least they had a really skewed idea of “not bad,” and “gradual slope.”

Now I was faced with the issue of how to get down! I knew there was no way I was getting on that sled. I also knew if I attempted to walk back down that steep dune, it would most likely turn into one long series of somersaults. My brain feverishly scrambled for a way out. I stood there, paralyzed with fear, as small children passed me to “Wheee,” jump on a sled, and go again. Humiliation began to invade my terror. I tried SO hard to reason with myself: “So far, no one has died going down the dune (to my knowledge),” and “I’ve done things far more daring than this,” and “Everyone else is doing it!” As each person climbed up the dune and took another turn, they would first offer the sled to me; each time my stomach seized at the thought, “GET OFF MY BACK!” I heard myself finally shout…but thankfully, I didn’t say it aloud. My polite smile was now a frozen, creepy grimace.

My time was running out. No longer did my magnanimously waving people past me look like I was sacrificing my turn. “This is a sport for younger people,” didn’t work either as the guide countered that once he had a 73 yr-old man go down the slopes. After 45 minutes of trying to figure out how to gracefully get out of this “Descent of Doom,” I KNEW I had to go down; ultimately I would never forgive myself if I admitted defeat and didn’t take the plunge—literally.

Finally, it came down to trust; certainly not trust in our guide, the man who proudly announced he had designed and built the sled himself: WHY would THAT reassure me? My trust certainly wasn’t in my friends who claimed, “It’s easy and fun!” No, I had trusted the Lord with my eternal life, so I also needed to trust Him with my mortal life.

Predictably, I survived.

So now, I will answer the multiple choice question from our last FAR paper as to which of the following was my fate:

  1. Attempted to go down the dune, but ended up buried up to my ankles, head first;
  2. Started riding the sled, but ended by riding in the back of an ambulance;
  3. Fell up the hill—oh yeah, I do that;
  4. Made it safely down the hill and joined an extreme sandboarding gang…

Did you guess, e. None of the above? Did I not include that in the list? Poor baby! LIFE’S NOT FAIR, or I never would have found myself on the top of that dune!!