Malaria, hyenas and a waterspout

At our last family reunion in 1999 with my mom and dad still present, we (now seven children) recounted many of our childhood experiences. My memories of our first years  at Katungulu in Tanganyika were stimulated by my older brother Calvin as well as notes from my dad’s diary from 1946-1949.

I can’t recall the chronological orders of the various events I remember, but I will endeavor to relate some of the stories that I experienced as a young girl.

I remember the quinine tables we had to take every day as a hopeful deterrent to malaria. They tasted nasty but were necessary. But even after taking the bitter medicine, I came down with a bad case of malaria. I was taken to the government hospital in Mwanza via the poti-poti, the motor launch that was our only means of crossing the lake. The nurses in the hospital were kind, but I missed being at home with my mom and dad.

The hideous night-time cries and yelps of the resident pack of hyenas near the hospital sent chills up my spine and made large, scary impressions on my little mind. Having never seen a hyena, I thought they were huge gorilla-like creatures that surrounded the hospital. They brought on a deep fear and I dreaded the darkness that seemed to produce strange noises that nearly scared me to death. It’s amazing how vivid some of my childhood memories still are. But now as an adult and knowing the truth, having seen many hyena through my life, my fear has turned to freedom.

When I was well enough to return home to Katungulu, mom came and picked me up and once again we crossed the wavy way of the waters of Lake Victoria. As we neared our destination, but still had some distance of water to cover, I noticed a large swirling funnel of water extending from the sky to the lake’s surface. I sensed it was an unusual phenomenon, but I felt no danger because I was with my mom. What could harm me with her presence beside me?

When I pointed out this waterspout, she immediately urged the pilot of our humble craft to speed up as fast as he could and she offered up a quick plea and prayer for help from our heavenly Father, who was also with us, though unseen.

As an innocent young child, I had complete trust in my dear mom and her faith in God to save us. On that day God did a miracle for us; he helped us arrive safely, keeping just out of reach of the huge column of spiraling turbulent water! I recall even seeing fish ‘flying’ from its walls – that’s how close we were! I credit this act of protection as evidence of God’s calling on my life even as a youngster. He has never failed me as I’ve gone through many other ‘storms’ in my life. The end results aren’t always what I would want, but God’s loving care and concern are ever present.