Beth sat on the porch steps, her elbows on her knees and her head cupped in her little hands. Large tear drops coursed down her pink cheeks. The superb beauty of the African sunset had no effect on her sorrow. Beth was grieving for her pet guinea fowl, Mrs. Jenny.
Beth was five years old, the only child of Rev. and Mrs. Cunningham, who were missionaries stationed in a small village near Lusaka, Zambia. They lived in a little white house with a large yard. Janice, Mrs. Cunningham had a vegetable garden and a chicken coop in the yard. The coop contained some hens and a couple of brightly colored cocks. Beth loved to care for the poultry.
One day a local farmer presented them with a pair of Guinea fowls. They were unique and pretty, with black and white dotted coats, a red crown and a white face. Guinea fowls had curved backs and slender necks like a crane and short legs like a hen. Their voices were high pitched and shrill. During the day, they foraged for worms and insects in the yard and pecked at grains like fowls, but at night they roosted on tree tops or roofs. They were good watchmen at night sounding the alarm when strangers approached. Beth instantly fell in love with them. She named them Mr. Jefferson and Mrs. Jenny. The birds made good pets responding to her call and following her around.
All went well for a couple of months. Then one day, Mrs. Jenny disappeared. Beth was heartbroken. The whole household and the villagers searched for the bird. But it was nowhere. Weeks passed with no sign of Mrs. Jenny. Beth was inconsolable. Finally it was decided that Jenny had been killed by any one of the predators- mongoose, jackal, or even a python. It was strange that there were no traces of blood or feathers and the only explanation could be that she had been snatched by a giant vulture and carried away into the cliffs. Whatever it may be there was no hope that Jenny would be alive. Every night, Beth knelt by her bed and prayed for Jenny’s safe return.
Janice tried to cheer her daughter by hatching a new set of chicks. Although Beth liked the baby fluffy chicks, they could not replace Jenny. Her father promised to get her another guinea fowl. Beth still longed for Jenny and prayed for her return.
Summer gradually started to fade into fall. The sunflowers and marigolds were in full bloom, the beans were ripening on the fence. And the yams and squash were ready for harvest. Beth gloomily surveyed the yard, still longing for Jenny. Suddenly she spied Jefferson, flapping his wings and screaming as he ran towards the far end of the yard. Beth cautiously followed him, wondering if he was chasing a mongoose or a snake. And then she saw the reason for the commotion. It was her beloved Jenny! She yelled with joy as running towards Jenny, she called out,
“Mommy, Mommy, come here quickly, it is Jenny. She is home.”
Then she stopped and stood in amazement, for following Jenny were five little ones, her babies. Jenny had brought home her family. A proud Mr. Jefferson led his family to the chicken coop!
Janice came running to watch the wonder of Jenny’s return and joy in her daughter’s face.
“See Mom, I told you Jesus will bring back Jenny. He not only brought Jenny but He also brought us five babies.”
Janice nodded her head as tears filled her eyes. Silently she prayed that God would forgive her lack of faith. She had believed that Jenny was dead and there was no use praying about it. Beth was making much ado about nothing. But God had proved that she was wrong by rewarding Beth’s relentless hope.
Later that evening, Beth followed Jenny as she led her brood to her nest, a hole in the ground under the thorn bushes that surrounded the roots of the big Acacia tree. It was a safe and secure place where the wise bird had raised her little ones!
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