It could sound rather idyllic. But today has not been so.
Last night we got to bed very late: We were helping to take H to the doctor and to take care of the two boys who were anxious and uptight. H began treatment for Pneumonia, came home to the lodge (where we are staying as we search for a house) and we all tried to sleep.
The week has not been easy. H is facing life changing decisions: seeing years of work and dreams of her family wrangled in the deceit of greed. Alone here, she has carried great emotional loads. We have listened, given our advice and laughed with the boys at their love of life.
We have heard numerous other stories: some of Deon’s workers have had to evacuate the town where they are staying as Massai tribes have been at war. People were killed on the lands they are investigating. Another South African friend has faced threats of eviction, deportation and other nasty sounding words. We ourselves are uncertain of where we are to settle (if such a thing is possible with us).
The storms started in the night: the winds raging, the waves of Lake Victoria sounding fierce and ragged against the rocks and sands of the beach. Thunder echoed around the bay, rain bashing against the thin reeds of the cabin’s roof.
It has been stormy for a few days, but the sun normally shines after sunrise and all is fine. This morning it was oppressively humid for a while, then the winds began developing into strong gusts. We sat to order lunch and look out over the lake and I mentioned to Deon how I understood why the disciples would have feared storms as they were fishing.The waves roll in at about a meter or so. Deon mentioned all the precautions one would take when sailing.
A group of teenaged school children arrived: all skinny jeans and machismo. There were somersaults in the sand, dances to internal rhythms, and the usual parading of too much hormones and not enough wisdom to accompany it. There were several who went in to swim in the lake, although the waves were boisterous and gusty. I watched one loner who might have been struggling but he seemed fine after a few moments.
C and Z, the young Saffer boys, ran up to give us a fright, speak of their new brave endevours and share the usual light hearted talk we share. The message of hope we needed came to me there, but its poignancy only sank in hours later.
The wind became too disturbing for us and we moved into our room to watch a dvd and to eat lunch there. We hear the waves and a few teen-aged yells but it is not windy and not loud.
Within about a half hour Z came to bang on the door. shaking, C at his side, pointing to the water and body language reflecting shock far more than words could.
Those bodies brimming with vitality, rhythm and many unlived years were shaken. Two of the boys had drowned as we were watching a screen. One had been dragged out and lain flat. Z saw that CPR was being given wrong and tried to push life into bloated lungs, but it was too late. Another body was carried out into the lake and has not been recovered yet.
Z came into my hug, tears streaming down. The words of prayer poured from my heart as he stood in my arms. Z’s mother and father are miles away, he is shaken after his care-giver aunt’s illness and his effort to save a life was pushed away by a greedy overseer.
Where before there had been showing off, laughter and movement was now stillness… shock… questioning.
There are so many layers to this disaster that one does not know where to start. There was not adult supervision of the group. The broken jetty’s “out of bounds” sign has long been ignored (it seems like the boys knocked the jetty somehow). The water looked far too dangerous from the start. The resort is mired in politics: this could not have come at a worse time.
Now there are so many hearts broken. Mothers, fathers, siblings, friends. Our little heroes, C and Z, minds filled with images that might frighten their dreams.
This morning two young bodies had forever.
Now forever is gone.
Of course, the brevity of life comes to mind. Why so young? My thoughts have been around if they were ready to face eternity. Because I know: when I saw that green-sheeted stretcher being carried out the gate today it was not the full stop on that seventeen year old’s existence. Eternity awaits.
And God reminded me of His gift-image as we sat after ordering lunch, before it all took place.
There at our feet sweet mama Tulip lay, her month old puppy curled between her legs. Tuna (precious pup) was oblivious of the raging winds, vicious waters of the lake and even the tough night we had last night.
She lay curled, sleeping in the heat of her mother’s safety.
No need for anxiety, worry or trembling. Big Mama knows how to care for her, has not abandoned her to this point, and keeps little one secure.
If only the disciples fully grasped this and would let go of their fears on the lake! If only we will keep it close to our hearts in times of storms…
we cannot save ourselves from drowning. We cannot rescue ourselves in the storms. We can rest in an almighty loving God, who if He leads us He will keep us.
He is not fearful of tomorrow: He is there. He will not abandon us in times of fright: He promised to never leave or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). We cannot accomplish anything at all in our anxiety.
If only I can live like our little puppy. God is bigger than all, He knows all and I can rest in His certainty and sovereignty.
Psalm 86:5. Oh Lord You are so good…so full of unfailing love for all those who ask for your help.