Captive


The air tasted thick with moisture.  Abra clung to her mother’s lifeless body in the forest. Eyes searching the early morning mist. Her chains clattered in the darkness, she cried softly, so as not to bring any attention to herself. As the day dawned, she realized they were quite alone.  The slavers seem to have abandoned them overnight.

An owl’s call in the distance wakened her. Startled, her eyes searching in the early morning shadows. No one came. She called out, softly at first, a little less fearful, with each passing minute. Finally she screamed, as her mother’s lifeless face lolled over.

‘Afande!’  It was the only word she could remember.  The kidnapping of random family members in their Mozambique village had alarmed her.  Their long march to the land of sea lasting days. Hunger, thirst and disease claimed its first victims on their long march. All the while, her mother gently reassuring her that her father and brothers would come searching for them. How, she wondered.  Her mother had eventually lost hope, as they marched north up the coast, with its warm sticky breezes. She recalled the clear skies and beauty of the waves, the beautiful white sand and the striking colours of the sea.

‘Afande!’ Desperate and breathless, she began to cry. Hot tears streamed her cheeks as she placed leaves over her mother’s face, chest and arms. ‘I am sorry, Mama. If only we let them separate us, you would be here to speak to me today.  I am sorry!’ She cried, screaming as she released her  frustration.

The man leapt out beside her, startling her as he landed.  His white head-dress clearly visible. He bent down, felt Abra’s mother’s pulse and turned to inspect her. She shivered, fearful of a beating.  He lifted her chin with a short cane, forcing her to her feet. She held her breath, eyes wild, afraid to look into his murderous eyes. He muttered some words in Arabic.  Abra stood motionless, with her chains clanging in the morning stillness. He picked the keys off his belt and unlocked the shackles around her mother’s wrists, freeing her dead body. He threw a large palm over her and grabbed Abra’s neck, leading  her out of the forest and onto some sand dunes. The dense bush was left far behind and a line of chained slaves came into full view, their heads and eyes looking ahead of them, fearful, tired, anxious and in coerced obedience.  Her wrists tethered and chained to the others and the chief slave raised a chant, to which they marched in solitary silence.  The slavers were few but heavily armed with whips and swords.  The men led the group followed by women and children in another chain gang.  Some teared up when they saw her. Others cursed the day they were born, each wondering when this endless march would come to an end.  They marched across the scorching dunes and back into the scrub land and into a long, damp endless forest. 

Captive

They foraged for food at nightfall.  Their captors ordered their personal slaves to prepare their tents and food for the night.  They ate to their fill, laughing and celebrating their catch from the hinterland. The slaves shivered with starvation, crouching on the forest floor, scooping out every drop of water from the large leaves that covered the ground.  A solitary bowl of food shoved to the male slaves, later in the evening.  Men and women scavenged for its contents.  Pasty, strange flavours, flat and slightly sour.  This was the last of the food seized during one of the village raids, stale and rotting.
They huddled in groups, women clinging to children, some of whom they did not know, gently singing lullabies to ease them to sleep.  The men crouched, some lay in foetal positions at a loss at how and why they were. They each settled into an uneasy sleep, occasionally stirring, chains restraining their movement.  They heaved in their deep and fitful sleep. Abra slept for the first time in many nights.

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Shifting sands once more


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“The birds have circled for a while now”, said the girl. She went on, “Yesterday felt much worse!'” As I write this post, I realize I she and her family spent the last 24 hours ‘feeling’ stuff.  Blame it on shifting atmospheres.  Things are set to change because God handles all.  Change is coming, whether we like it or not.

2 Corinthians 5:17

As the old self unravels, a sense of death is strangely welcome. The warm comfort of Scripture and God’s reassurance.  The seasons change and we adapt to our new environment, like shifting sands.  36 hours after dreary news came answered prayer.  A sigh of relief, a silent prayer and near disbelief.  God shone through and delivered them from certain bankruptcy.

“The birds have left”, the little girl shared.  ”

The sun is out and God’s arms are around us in June”, beamed the girl’s mother.  “God is here and we cannot find the words to thank Him enough!”Image

The shifting sands of time, directed under God’s awesome care, control and plans!  I remember that girl and thank God for all He continues to do.  What about you?

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Waves of Change


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Unemployment is such a miserable topic.  We have watched news reports of rising unemployment all over the world, for several weeks now.  The Greeks are in pain, the Spanish following hot on their heels, where many Africans undergo the same.  What kind of world are we building?   How did we get here?  What are our priorities?  How do we fix this?

I learned that a large group of friends and former colleagues were due to lose their jobs at the end of this month.  The international company they work for, sold some years back and the new investors have chosen to send a youthful, highly competent, capable, well-trained and dynamic team on early retirement. For some, retirement comes in their early thirties.  My first reaction was shock, then disbelief and now a sadness that I cannot shake off.  I prayed for them, then made calls to as many as I could.  It all seems unreal.  One friend confided in me, telling me that she still has no idea whether she will leave this coming Tuesday or not.  I prayed again with those I could and shared this with my husband.  We met at this company and have a soft spot for that firm and especially for our friends and former colleagues.

Another friend shared, “It is harder to watch the reactions of those who know they are leaving, than to receive the news myself.”  I put myself in her place and promptly agreed.  One eighth of the staff are being retrenched.  Many of them are middle managers, leaving the management team in place.  Personally, I question the mode of retrenchment.  It always begs the question, who is going to make sure continuity and actually do the work?  I am certain the management have a plan at any rate.

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Life is a blessing and with it comes seasons of joy and peace.  At other times comes frustration and anxiety.  We live with what we get.  We struggle and grow.  This is life for all living creatures.  A young bird has to leave its nest eventually. Their first flights come with a dose of tough love and a shove out of the nest into the air.  Tender plant shoots struggle out of the ground and strain to reach for air, sun and water.   This is life – hard, knocks and all.  Our Father God put it simply:

James 1:2

Testing of Your Faith

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,

1 Peter 1:6  

In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials,

Tough times never last, but tough people do!  After all you need a test, to have a testimony.  I am thankful for these challenges and I hope you are too!

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