Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Enter (02/27/06)
TITLE: Ten Steps East
By Marie Hearty
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Sweat dripped from her forehead. The temperature was at one hundred and ten degrees and would get hotter by late afternoon. She wiped her face with her sleave and opened her backpack for a water bottle. Her mouth was as dry as sandpaper.
"Miss. McIntyre, we're leaving." The driver called.
Slowly she walked toward the jeep that would take her to the place she would call home for the next year. She travelled with three other missionaries, all of whom seemed fine with everything, but Laura just sat quietly as the driver started the engine.
They drove for an hour over rough terrain, then into jungle territory where they stopped at a cabin that looked as if it was made of grass and mud. This couldn't be right.
One of the missionaries named Marina, smiled at Laura. "Admiring the scenery?"
"I don't know what to make of it all. I saw pictures . . . but I never thought it would be like this."
"Having second thoughts?" The woman put her arm around Laura.
Laura nodded. "I hate myself for it, but I am. I don't know if I can live like this. It is all so different." Her eyes filled with tears.
"Why don't you come in and get settled. I'll show you to your hammock."
"Don't expect to find any comfy Serta mattresses here. You get what you get."
Laura followed Marina and entered the little cubicle that would be her sleeping area. She dropped her bag on the ground and screamed when she saw a gigantic black bug crawl out from underneath the hammock.
"Don't worry, you will get used to this in no time. It is always scary at first." Marina zipped open her suitcase, took out a Mars bar, opened it, and took a bite.
Laura panted, "What was that?"
"A cockroach. The same as back home but only bigger, and don't let the hissing bother you."
Just when she thought it couldn't get any worse, she had to go to the bathroom. Rubbing her arms together, Laura looked around.
Marina chuckled, "Out the door and about twenty steps east."
"WHAT?" Laura's heart fell.
"It isn't that far, really. Come, I will show you."
On their way to the outhouse, Laura saw a bunch of children playing beside a cabin similar to theirs. They looked so thin and their clothes were like rags. "Who are they?"
"Those are some of the children you will be teaching, beginning tomorrow."
Laura's eyes widened. Her purpose for going to Africa was to teach English to the women and children and to share with them the Gospel, but seeing these little ones made it a reality.
On their way back, she went with Marina to visit the children. Marina introduced Laura as their new teacher and the children gathered around her smiling. One little girl hugged her leg tightly. "Teacher, I have a book. Can you read it to me?"
"I sure can." Laura's heart melted. They were so happy to see her. Finally, someone had come to teach them.
Laura didn't waste a minute; she sat down, took the book from the child and began to read out loud. "Once upon a time there was a little girl who . . ."
When she finished the book and looked up, she couldn't believe her eyes. About twenty children were sitting in a half circle, their dark eyes fixed expectantly on her. An incredible sense of peace filled her and she knew that nothing else mattered right now, but this. God had shown her what he wanted her to do and what a blessing it was going to be.
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