Kindergarten Lessons I Learned in Africa
An account of the adventures of author Claudia Thomason while on missions trips in Africa. The sights, smells, sounds and life lessons are detailed for readers in colorful terms throughout this memoir, while each account is heavily grounded in spiritual insight.
I made it to dinner but couldn’t eat. I walked slowly back to my tent, not realizing I wouldn’t emerge from that tent for thirty-six hours. The rest of that day, night and the following day are a blur. I remember coughing, showering frequently, fully clothed, to bring down my fever, and falling back onto the cot. We didn’t know what the disease was, but we knew I was quite ill.
Burning with fever, still coughing, lying in my cot as darkness fell, I drifted in and out of sleep. Suddenly I thought I heard something unusual outside my tent. The sound jerked me into consciousness and made my heart pound. I held my breath, straining to hear it again. It sounded like a growl, but I couldn’t be sure. Struggling to stop coughing, I realized I was hearing the low, rolling growl of a very large cat. I froze. I was inches away from the source of the terrifying sound since the canvas wall of the tent was by my head. The sound was so close; it felt as though he were whispering in my ear.
The only explanation for that sound was that a lion had gotten into the camp and was outside my tent! All that separated us was a thick canvas wall of the tent structure. Even as sick as I was, I knew canvas couldn’t withstand a lion's huge claws.
In that moment it appeared that my life might hang upon the capriciousness of one African lion. People say when one faces death, their life passes in front of them. Nothing like that happened on this still African night. Instead I listened to the sounds of tree frogs and monkeys, and the lion's low growl. Counting my blessings, I prayed.
The strangest thing happened next. I experienced an unusual quietness within me. Even if I succumbed to whatever this disease was or if the lion came through the wall and carried me off, it would be okay. I didn’t want either to happen especially, but if it did, it would be okay somehow. I can’t explain it, but it was real. I was no longer terrified of the lion or this disease. Realizing I had no control over either, and knowing God was in control, eliminated the anxiousness I had experienced for several days.
This reverie was shattered when I heard a loud “ROAR” from the lion. I expected to see a huge paw and sharp claws ripping through the canvas.