Jonahs by Jet

A Sabbath Afternoon Adventure

 

“Hey, Mom?” Keri had a brainstorm on Sabbath morning after breakfast. “Can we ride bikes out into the bush country after church today?”

“Yeah, Mom!” David echoed, “Could we? Please?”

“I’d say yes, but Dad is on call.”

“But the three of us could go,” David and Keri begged. “Plee-ee-ease, Mom?”

“OK, I don’t see why not!” Mom smiled at her eager children. “We could have lunch right after church. We’d have plenty of time to bike out to the hills,” Mom added, joining into her children’s spirit of adventure.

David’s eyes lit up. “We can climb that hill right next to Monkey Mountain! We haven’t hiked up that one.” Monkey Mountain had gotten its name on another Sabbath hike when the Skau family had been startled by a monkey troop there.

“I want to take a book and just sit and read and enjoy the scenery on the very top of the hill.” Keri smiled dreamily.

“That hill is the steep one that’s flat on top, right? Do you think we can really reach the top?” Mom wondered.

“I think we can,” David answered.

David and Keri put their church clothes on while Mom cleared the table. Dad was already at the hospital doing his Sabbath morning check on the patients.

Keri and David and Mom sang some songs, read a story, and did a Bible collage for their own little English Sabbath School at home. Then they walked down a sandy road to the Seventh-day Adventist church. Six hundred smiling Nigerian children gathered in several plain concrete school rooms for Sabbath School. David looked sadly at the dirty walls and the dusty concrete floors. There weren’t enough benches. Some children were sitting on rocks.

David missed the piano and carpet, the shiny walls, and the pictures of Jesus from his United States Sabbath School. These children had no art supplies or colorful books to read. That’s why his Mom tried to share a picture story or a new song each Sabbath morning. But you can sure tell these children love Jesus, David thought. I like that.

After a Bible lesson and some songs, it was time for Mom and David and Keri to go to church. All the Nigerian children stayed in their Sabbath School class during church, too, because there wasn’t really room for children.

David and Keri and Mom carried their own little stools into the crowded sanctuary. They set the stools in a small space up front near the green-robed choir. Mom liked to be close to the minister so she could watch his lips and learn Hausa.

On the opposite side from the choir sat all the Dorcas women with fancy white blouses, head scarves, and brightly colored wrapper skirts. The whole sanctuary was full of grown-ups and babies, so many babies! And not a one crying. Some of the mothers were nursing their babies or had them wrapped onto their backs fast asleep. Most of the women sat on the left side of the church. The men were together on the right.

“Why don’t they worship in their new big church?” David whispered to Mom. “It’s so crowded here!”

“They don’t have enough money for the roof, yet.” Mom whispered back.

David saw his Dad slip into the very back of the church where he could easily be called to the hospital if he was needed for an emergency.

The choir sang in beautiful harmony as people dropped their naira (nira) coins and colorful paper money into the cloth offering bags. Translating all the announcements, scripture, and sermon from Hausa into English made church extra long. David was beginning to fidget restlessly by the time the closing hymn was announced.

As soon as church was over, David and Keri raced toward home. They could hardly wait to change into hiking clothes.

“Mmmm! Homemade gluten and potatoes for lunch!” Dad pointed his nose toward the kitchen. “Sure smells good!” Dad smiled at Mom.

After the blessing, David piled his plate high with the little yellow potatoes and gravy and gluten. He barely had room for cabbage and carrots and fresh tomatoes. As he served himself, David said, “I sure would like you to come with us to the hill, Dad.”

“I wish I could go too,” Dad agreed “But you can tell me all about it when you come back and take me there one Sabbath when I’m not on call.”

David, Keri, and Mom got out there bikes and loaded a backpack with a bottle of water, binoculars and How’s Inky, a favorite nature story about a porcupine.

Soon, David and Keri and Mom were biking past the mission houses, past the village houses, and past the busy open market place to the hills.

After a half hour ride, they parked their bikes at the foot of a huge rock that seemed to rise straight up out of the sandy farmland. “Wow! It sure looks steep!” Mom exclaimed.

“Come around the side, Mom!” David encouraged. He led the way finding spaces between big boulders, gradually climbing higher and higher around the hill. Keri and Mom followed the steep route, sometimes using their hands to boost themselves up over rocks or push thorn bushes aside.

“We have to climb up between these two rocks,” David called from above.

Keri scrambled up the “chimney.” It was just big enough to squeeze through. It took a lot of energy to push herself up.

But David pulled her hand and Mom pushed from behind. Mom took off her backpack and handed it up to Keri to hold while she wedged her body between the rocks, boosting herself through the chimney.

“Oh look, we’re almost to the top!” Keri’s face broke into a relieved smile. “Only a few more rocks and a tree to scramble around!”

As Mom and David and Keri came up over the edge of the hill onto a flat top, they walked carefully around a small tree. It was close to the steep side of the hill. David noticed a few bussing insects circling them.

“Mom, there are bees!”

“Are they bees or flies?” Mom wondered.

“They are bees!” Keri and David were sure.

“Oh, I see. They are swarming that big tree up on top.” Mom pointed to a large tree toward the right with lots of busy insects flying around it. “Let’s go the other way!” Mom turned a sharp left.

Keri and David walked out to the edge of the huge flat top of the hill. David could see their bikes parked far below. Keri noticed the brown farm lands for miles around. They found a little hollow in the rock and settled down to rest. Mom opened up a waxy box of apple juice. “Mmm,” David smacked his lips. “It has been a long time since we tasted apple juice!”

“Read us a story, Mom!” Keri begged.

Mom smiled at Keri’s impatience as she found the How’s Inky book in the backpack. They read several chapters before Mom noticed the sun sinking lower in the sky. Closing the book, Mom said, “I think we better get down. We still have quite a ride home.”

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