Here is an excerpt of Chapter 1:
By good fortune, or so it seemed, the black, African minister and his wife came to my hometown in search of an adventurous and unwavering soul to teach at their mission school in Africa! You see, this was nothing less than a phenomenal opportunity that I was literally born for. The bit of information spread rapidly and then it made its way to me. After all, to know me was to know my commitment and personal mission in life: As a child I had promised my best friend and Heavenly Father…God that I would someday live in Africa. My parents swore that ‘Africa’ was among my first few words. They say I would often head out to our backyard, grab the shovel and announce, “I’m digging to Africa.” I mean, meeting this African pastor was better than shaking hands with a movie star.
A church I was affiliated with had funded the minister’s mission for years and was responsible for his sojourn to America. Four years prior, my son Peyton and I had taken a leap of faith and moved to Anchorage, Alaska to experience the ‘end of the road’ and for me to attend the University. My ex-husband’s occasional flings had gotten the better of me and I needed a strong dose of self-worth, wider skies and a degree in biology. Indeed, there in the ‘Last Frontier’ life was more than pleasant and Peyton and I were doing fine.
While in town Reverend and Mrs. Kozi interviewed many before zeroing in on me. Of course, I felt as though I had won an award. He chose ME! This man, with a rich and romantic dialect, was most gracious, yet in charge. He was well-spoken, quick-witted and uncharacteristically tall for a Ugandan, which added to his rich demeanor. His dark coloring rendered his eyes and teeth surreal. As he extended his hand toward me, I felt flushed and unearthed. Somehow, I managed to utter, “I need time to think about the proposal.” There was one ‘very small hitch,’ and it involved money. The house where we were to live wasn’t quite finished and he was suggesting that I make up the difference in cost. Somehow I sensed disapproval when I asked for time. I rationalized that hesitation might cancel the deal, so I bought into the proposal with only the slightest of constraint.
Our first meeting took place exactly one year before I was to graduate from the University of Alaska Anchorage. Actually, the reverend’s timing was perfect, for it would certainly require at least one full year to prepare for such a migration. Peyton was 11 then and well immersed into a lovely Christian school. Decidedly, yanking him out of the school, the town and the country demanded total attention, research and commitment. Was I up to it? Could I do it? Those questions were forwarded to the reassuring fact that this was a man of God. With Peyton at my side, I was no match and eventually gave way to divine trust.
In return, the minister was taken by the promise I made to myself so long ago. After all, “You did promise to live in Africa and not just visit,” was his most rapid and endearing reply. Most of all, the man was happy with my degree choice. He was thrilled that my scholastic background was biology, assuring me that I would be teaching much more than classroom reading and writing. From there he detailed the job saying, “Sister Penny, this is an all-inclusive, family- involved regimen that is intended to deal with sanitation and agriculture, including how to keep crops vital.” Family health care and even literacy in the home were integral parts, as well. Ahead of these things, malaria prevention took first place in the agenda.
Click the link below to read the first three chapters: