Friday, August 23, 2013

Life as I Knew it

In Recollection of my First Bicycle - Part 1                     
Written by John David Magee, the son of missionaries John and Doris Magee who served in Nigeria from 1945 – 1978.
Around the summer of 1950, my family was into our first tour at Igede, Ekiti, which was a big adjustment from the previous tour at the Baptist College campus at Iwo. At Iwo, my mode of transportation around the compound between our house and my buddies' residences (Conrad Roberson; Roger Congdon; John Whirley) was on a hobby horse, or similar foot travel. It's just amazing that none of us kids ever encountered the big cobra and mamba snakes that would easily have done us in.

When my folks hauled my brother, Sidney, and me to Igede, we learned what real bush was. I recall our first trip to the old fourteen-acre compound, to the big house that Missionary Donath had built. Nearly two thousand feet above sea level in the hills and rain forest of Ekiti country. This was to be my home for the rest of my days in Nigeria, until I returned home to the States in 1957 at the age of fourteen.

The Humphreys traveled with us that first trip. Rachael Humphreys was my mother's sister. She and her husband, Ed, had arrived in Nigeria after we had returned to the States from Tour number one, so my folks had never met Ed until our return to Nigeria in 1949, soon after; they accompanied us to our new mission station. I recall the first night, mainly because of the tree dogs that barked all over the place, which I had never heard before. They made an incredible sound; one that always sent me under the covers, with chills down my back. From what appeared to be a great distance away, they would begin their routine with a series of snapping-clacking sounds, punctuated at the end by a single bark. This was repeated maybe a dozen times, each time with the snapping sounds getting louder and more and more slow, like a clock winding down, with the bark at the end getting louder each time too. Suddenly, they would break out into this fast, extended series of barks, which would get slower towards the end. This, they repeated seven or eight times, each time slower, and louder, until finally there was a loud single bark, then silence. In all my years in Nigeria I never saw one of these critters, so I always imagined the worst.

My folks managed to provide Sidney and me with basic kid transportation for us to use around the yard, including a pretty nice, red tricycle from Sears; the standard red wagon; and, a little peddle scooter. My mom had a bike, and some of our Nigerian help pushed me around the yard on this adult-sized bike until I gradually gained the sense of balance required for two wheels. Because it was a bike designed for women, I learned how to stand on one of the pedals, and push myself along somewhat like a scooter, thereby learning to coast by myself for short distances. Finally, I was ready for my own bicycle.

I don't remember where my folks got the bike, but probably the city of Ibadan or some similar large shopping place. But I do remember that the bicycle was a black Hercules, just my size, and man, was I excited! 



Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Strange and Interesting Bible Facts

Once a month, I write a short column for a writer’s newsletter, “The Write Life" called “Strange and Interesting Bible Facts.” Since 2010, I have thoroughly enjoyed digging in my Bible to come up with Bible tid-bits for this column. So, now I will pass on the interesting facts I have found to you – my blog readers – in a new section I will post periodically under this same title.

Here are four to get us started:

1) “Pass me not Oh gentle Savior. Hear my humble cry!  While on others Thou art calling, do not pass me by.”  This is a famous hymn written by the late Fannie Crosby. Where do we find the words, “Do not pass me by.” in scripture?  …. Do you give up? Abraham said it in Genesis 18:3. The setting is by the oaks of Mamre, where the Lord appeared to Abraham. In verse 3 Abraham says to the Lord, “My Lord, if now I have found favor in your sight, please do not pass your servant by.”  
2) Have you ever heard the name Ichabod?  Most of us have heard it in the context of the story by John Quidor of Ichabod Crane and the headless horseman. But did you know the name appears in the Bible?  1st Samuel 4 tells the sad story of the Philistine victory where the Ark of the Covenant was stolen, Eli’s sons were killed, and Eli also died upon hearing the news of the battle and the loss of the Ark of the Covenant.  This sad chapter ends with the story of Eli’s daughter in law also dying in childbirth after the news of her loss caused her to go into labor.  As she was dying, she named her newborn son Ichabod, which means “No glory” because she said the glory of the Lord had departed. (1st Samuel 4: 21)

3) This tid-bit of information is drawn from a book by David Jeremiah. He tells of a geophysicist who explained that oil deposits result from the decomposition of plants and animal life that once covered the earth until a vast cataclysm (like a flood, perhaps?) The richest and largest deposits of oil are just east of Israel, where the Bible places the Garden of Eden. In presenting his argument that the last battle will be over oil, Dr. Jeremiah states, “It’s ironic to think that Satan may finance the Battle of Armageddon at the end of human history with revenues generated from the garden he spoiled at the beginning of human history.”

4) Sometimes verses strike me as humorous. This one did that when I read it. Paul said these words just before his shipwreck. He had a dream in which God had told him he would appear before Caesar. Then Paul tells the men on his ship, “Keep up your courage men, for I believe God that it will turn out exactly as I have been told.  But we must run aground on some island.” (Acts 27:25-26) Maybe there is something wrong or irreverent about me for finding these verses so hilarious.  Or maybe I’ve just been there too many times in my life. But I can truly relate with these words, “Things are going to be OK!  I believe God!...Oh! - but first we are going to have a major shipwreck. There will be pieces of us everywhere; a major mess!!  Just overlook it! Everything is going to turn out just the way God wants it too!