This story starts many, many years ago – exactly when, I can’t say, but in my mind I’ve “always” wanted to go to Africa and see the vast
herds of wild life that roam so freely there, but can be seen here only in zoos.   This blog will not only tell the story of the trip, but also show how God orchestrated the whole thing and stayed with us every step of the way.   His timing is always perfect, indeed, he who waits upon the Lord will be amply rewarded.

Patiently, year after year I waited, trusting that somehow, someway I would get this once-in-a-lifetime trip.  Whenever anyone would ask “if you could go

Charlie, a Hungarian Refugee in 1956

anywhere you wanted and money wasn’t a factor – where would you go?”  I had two standard answers to that question depending upon my mood and “life” as it swirled around me at that particular moment.  One was “I would send my family away and I would stay home and do what I wanted, when I wanted!”  The second was “on a photo safari in Africa.”  As our family passed through the different seasons of life, some dreams faded and others arose to take their place.  Old “wants” didn’t seem important anymore.  God was faithful in amply supplying all our needs and as Paul says in Philippians 4, “I have learned to be content in any and all circumstances, whether living in plenty or in want.”  But, still the African dream lingered on.

In 1963 I met and married Charlie, a tall, dark and handsome Hungarian refugee, with the traditional “cute little accent.“   Our life was never dull; we changed occupations every ten years and raised up three wonderful children to be servants of God.
As the years raced relentlessly on, my husband’s physical strength began to wane.  Beginning in 1989 he was severely limited in what he could do.  Finally in 1993, he had quintuple by-pass surgery.  When he seemed to be getting weaker instead of stronger the search was on to discover what else might be hindering his return to normal.   A trip to the Mayo Clinic revealed that he had Inclusion Body Myositis (IBM) – a rare auto immune disease where one’s own immune system begins to destroy the muscles in the extremities of the body (i.e. lower leg and forearms).   The advice was “go home and get used to it” – there was no medication, no hope of reversal; it was progressively degenerative.

The doctor was right….every year we could look back and see what abilities he had been robbed of in the past 12 months.  Time stops for no man…year after year, he grew weaker and weaker until he couldn’t even move his arm when his hand became dislodged from the joy stick on his power chair.   He could no longer pet his faithful companion, a tiny, but fiercely loyal Pomeranian.  He developed Diabetics and other physical ailments and still he soldiered on.

In December, 2010, I had my annual day out with our two daughters.  Over lunch, Lydia again asked me the question which had been put to me so many times before.  And my reply was the same “Africa.”  Yes, she knew that.  The topic wasn’t pursued because the unspoken reality was that I couldn’t go anywhere.  For the past 22 years I had been the sole caregiver 24/7 for my failing husband.

A few weeks later in January, I got a surprising phone call from Lydia.  She said “I want you to start praying about going to Africa this year…”  When I protested that it couldn’t happen, she just insisted that I pray about it and talk to her father.   I promised I would and I did.  Talking to Charlie was the hard part – I knew what his answer would be, and when it came, it was justas I suspected.  There was no way I could leave him; he wasn’t willing to be subjected to the care of strangers.  Disappointed, but not surprised, I reported back to Lydia “thanks, but we need to forget about it for now.”  Undeterred, she urged me to continue praying and to ask one more time.  In the meantime she suggested that I check out the airlines for frequent flyer seats for August.   Time was moving along and now it was April.  I broached the subject again and got the same answer as before.  This time he added “when I’m gone you can go anywhere you want.” Gently, I replied “but I expect you to live another 10 years and who knows if I’ll be physically capable of doing this when I’m in my 80s!”  He made no reply.

The faithful little Pom

All those 22 years I had been a caregiver, I had virtually gone nowhere, but was diligently putting all purchases on the credit card and
building up frequent flyer miles.  Lydia also had enough miles for the trip.  In spite of continuing to say “you know I can’t go anywhere!”  I did two things then:  1) I sent for my passport; and 2) I was on the phone for an hour with the airlines seeing if there were any frequent flyer seats available.  We had agreed that we would fly separately if necessary, but there wasn’t one seat available.  I told Lydia I would not ask again because there weren’t any seats for us anyway.


Two weeks later, Charlie’s faithful little dog passed away.  He was broken-hearted and mourned his loss openly.  Every day he begged me to find another dog for him.  I spent hours on the internet and the telephone; we even brought one home on a trial basis from the pound.  That didn’t work out well.   Finally a friend found one on Craig’s List and the next day we drove to Spokane to get the dog – another Pomeranian.  We had only been back home for a couple hours when Charlie said “take me to the hospital; I’m having a heart attack.”  Back into the car we went and sped off to Coeur d’Alene.  He stayed overnight there one night then brushed aside the doctor’s advice and returned home.

But nothing was the same.  Fluid was building up and it was difficult to transfer him; he wasn’t comfortable in his chair and was having trouble breathing.  After the church service on Mother’s Day one of the ladies cheerfully patted him on the arm and said “see you next Sunday.”  He responded “I don’t think so.”  In the evening he said “call 911”.  He was given oxygen and when he felt better I drove him back to CdA to the hospital.  (He refused a ride in the ambulance.)  They were not able to drain off the fluid and he died of congestive heart failure three days later.

After the Memorial Service, Lydia said “now are you ready to fulfill your dream?”

“We can’t go this year” I replied.  “There are no seats.”

This girl never gives up!

I went outside to pull some weeds and she got on the phone.  Within a half an hour she was at my side.  “Are you ready to go?” she asked.  Dumbfounded, I stammered an affirmative response.  When I had tried a month before, when it was impossible for me to go, there were no seats.  Now there were two, together, all the way to Johannesburg and back and now I was free to go!   What a God we have!