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Safe Amid Snakes and Semi-Trucks
10/30/2019 3:00:00 AM by: Becky Cerling Powers

Our baby Erik was 20 months old when my husband Dennis had to spend six months in Kenya on a geological-paleontological expedition, gathering data for his Ph.D. thesis. He and his team were working in a remote part of northwest Kenya, in the desert near the Ugandan border. There were too many scientists in the field for me and Erik to come along the first three months, but there was going to be space for us the last three months. Did we want to go along?

Should we take our baby to Africa?

On the one hand, this looked like the travel opportunity of a lifetime. And six months seemed too long for the family to be apart. On the other hand, the African desert could be a dangerous place for our baby. There is a deadly snake in that part of Kenya called the ecces, or sand viper. It is aggressive and goes out of its way to attack.

The scientists on the expedition carried a powerful anti-venom with them everywhere in the field because the sand viper’s venom is so potent. If you don't get the antidote within an hour after being bitten, you die. We worried that our curious explorer would tangle with one, and if he did, there would be no hope for his life. He was so small that the strength of the antidote would kill him instead of saving him.

It seemed so risky

Furthermore, the team ran into two or three sand vipers during their first couple months in the field. One even came into their camp and settled under a table.

So I didn't think we should take Erik into the field. We did decide to use all the money in our savings account, though, so that Erik and I could fly to Kenya for the two-week break between field camps.

But America was risky, too

After Dennis left for Kenya in June, I drove from our apartment in Princeton, New Jersey to Iowa and South Dakota to visit my parents and Dennis' parents. It was scary driving by myself with a 20-month-old baby. Huge semi-trucks kept speeding past us in the lanes on both sides of our little car.

I started to realize how dangerous it could be for me and Erik in the United States! And I also became increasingly aware of how much the Lord was protecting us on our long drive.

Re-thinking risk

These experiences made me reconsider the Africa question in a new light. Instead of asking "Is it too dangerous?" I just asked, "Does God want our family together for those three months?"

In the end, Erik and I stayed in Africa all three months with Dennis.

It was a wonderful adventure – certainly dangerous, but the Lord was with us in Africa, just as He had been in the U.S. And even though we were out in the remote desert during the rainy season, when sand vipers are normally more in evidence, we never saw one while we had Erik with us. (Our African helpers did kill a small spitting cobra outside the camp, but Erik wasn't involved.)

What the songwriter wrote

One of the songs in the Bible says,I will say of the LORD, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I trust.’ Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence” (Psalm 91:2-3).

Today’s prayer

Oh Lord, open my eyes to see Your protection in my life so that my faith can grow and I can give You the praise You deserve. Amen.”

Resource

To read more from Becky Cerling Powers, visit the Bookstore to see her books: Laura’s Children: the hidden story of a Chinese orphanage and My Roots Go Back to Loving and other stories from Year of the Family

© Becky Cerling Powers 2018


Previous Posts

Music Enriches the Family
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