As we stepped out of the airport in Cairo and made our way across the parking lot to the bus, it did not quite register in my mind yet-- I was on a new continent. Even the voices of those around me, speaking a language I could not understand, did not bother me.
I dropped my small pack of possessions onto the seat by a window; a few changes of clothes, an old Bible and little more, then flopped down dramatically beside it. The only thought that came to me at the time-- "Man, it’s hot."
My only friends at the time-- a married couple, headed to work in the small African village. Jill and Scott became a real life line for me, at least they could speak the native language well enough. For me, even if I could have understood it, I would have still been lost after a day or so.
My first week there, I did a lot of praying for guidance, but mostly I just looked around the place, trying to figure out what I was supposed to be doing. I was there to do repairs to the clinic and school, but how? Nothing more than grass-covered roofs, over large shack like buildings. It was definitely not my type of construction.
There were no materials, only hand tools to work with, and the other person that was to help me didn't speak English. Just two days there and I was ready to admit to failure, head off into the night and keep going-- which was exactly what I had started to do.
There was a river about a quarter mile from where we lived in the little village and I walked out that direction. I could hear animals down by the water, but fear of getting ate was far from my mind at that point. Sitting on the river bank in the dark, I prayed that the Lord would show me something-- anything that would tell me what I was doing. All I could think of was the sad condition of the structures.
Grass-weave thatch roofs, it held out the weather good enough, but not for a medical clinic. I needed actual boards to make a solid roof. The walls, no more than stout poles buried a few feet in the ground with thin branches and grass plastered in with mud. Sun and fire baking it to a near stone like hardness was the only good thing. As I thought it over they didn't really seem so bad, with a few board covering the inside walls and then sealed good, I could make it half-way clean.
The roar of an animal somewhere to my left caused me to glance that way, seeing the length of a fallen tree flowing away from me along the river. The answer came to me then, while wondering of how to make boards out of nothing. The idea-- boards come from split trees.
At that moment the sound was heard again, whether a lion of my imagination, or some other beast, the long roar that came was like an added emphasis on the dawning thought. I had my work cut out for me, but it could be done.
I could hear the others laughing ahead of me in the dark, as I made my way back across the small village. Words to a poem kept running through my head, so I grabbed a note book and joined the group on a lantern-lit porch of the house we were staying in.
“Where have you been?” Jill called out in a voice filled with life, but the look of worry in her husband’s eyes told me they had both noticed I was gone–- genuine concern for my well being.
“Just went for a walk,” I smiled as I sat down and wrote out the words to a short verse. Jill picked up her guitar and started to strum a lively tune. I handed her the small poem and she laughed as she put it to music.
Lost within the trials of life,
No place to call my own.
Dancing through distant winds,
My mind dreaming of a home.
The life for me is plain to see,
With the Lion of Judah walking with me.
The lion roared again in the distance, and we all laughed as Jill’s lilting voice spoke in jest, ”It sounds like he liked it.”
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