I must admit, when I look back on my years living in East Africa, it seems like a lifetime ago. This day though, I remember the details like it was yesterday. Lynda and I had been trekking across Tanzania's rugged Serengeti plains with our good friends Frank and Jerry Anne Pevey (plus their two young daughters Bethany and Ashley, and our son, Jeff). We were traveling in the Pevey's 4-wheel-drive Toyota Land Cruiser, windows down (most all-terrain vehicles in Africa were not air-conditioned). We were all hot, dirty, and hungry. The kids were good troopers, but they wanted out of that vehicle and the sooner the better. The tsetse flies were everywhere. We were eating red Serengeti dust like it was a fast-food snack. Occasionally, Jerry Anne, to appease us all, would pull out her stash of Nabisco Teddy Grahams, a treasure from the states, saved back for special occasions like this.
Do not underestimate the power of Teddy Grahams to soothe the savage beast in a child (or adult for that matter). I still think of that incredibly special trip every time I pass the cracker aisle at Brookshires.
As the evening sun began its final, rapid descent into the desert horizon, I was struck by the contrasts of survival in the Serengeti. The beauty of the orange sky became like a photographer's backdrop to a single, dead acacia tree, probably once a forest of acacias, long since succumbed to the constant badgering of elephant herds. I am not looking for a spiritual seed behind every scene in nature, but I really was impressed that evening by the beauty and sheer size of this place called the Serengeti. Our Creator God is an incredible artist with a canvas as big as all outdoors. His creativity is only matched by His love and Grace. Sometimes it takes a landscape like the Serengeti to make you realize the truth in that. In a few fleeting moments though, that awesome painting would be gone, lost forever (not really, but I sometimes resort to hyperbole in situations like this).
The sun was diving fast. It would soon be a missed shot. Shot? Was I deep in philosophical thought, or thinking of taking a picture? Yep! You guessed it. I had to act and act . . . fast! "Frank! Stop the truck. Lynda, where's my camera? I have to get this shot." I am quite sure the ridiculousness and absurdity of my request was lost on nobody (especially the kids). Frank stopped. You must know Frank Pevey; he is understated, smart and patient . . .this is the man you want covering your backside when you are in trouble. I piled out onto the dusty floor and got my photo.
Life went on and we made it to our destination. Years later, here I sit, telling you about Teddy Grahams in the Serengeti.