The Big City
They were on the road again! But they weren’t headed home just yet. Fred E. Frog and Fred D. Frog bounced over the back roads with their three missionary friends, who were laughing and chattering.
“Can’t we for once stay on a real highway?” asked Fred D.
“Pretty soon. This was just a shortcut.”
“Penny and her shortcuts!”
“Actually this was Miss Agnes’ shortcut. She’s been around here so long, she knows how to get anywhere.”
This time they were heading for the big city. And sure enough, they were soon flying down the main highway. The old missionary was having the time of her life, hair blowing in the wind, as they whizzed toward the city.
“Thanks for making a detour so I could visit my little adopted niece for her birthday. I told her I probably couldn’t make it, so she’ll be surprised. Of course she’s not really my niece. But I took care of her when she was a baby while her mother was so sick. I feel like she’s mine.”
Penny laughed. “You feel that way with all the kids! And they love you, too. It’s fine. I need to check on my passport anyway, so I can get to America next month on Home Assignment.”
Fred E. laughed. “Penny feels the same way about the kids in her village. She’s taught them, or nursed them, or taken care of all of them in some way!”
“I wonder how Jabir’s sister is doing? I promised him I’d be back in a couple of days,” said Fred D. worriedly.
But they had a fun time in the city.
Well, the first day wasn’t so fun.
Penny spent hours waiting in line at government offices for word of her passport and all the special papers she needed to go overseas, and then come back into the county later. And Sally had to make an emergency visit to the dentist.
But they all had a wonderful time at the birthday party. Miss Agnes had used her time to check out the shops and market place for just the right birthday present. And some treats for the kids back home.
Chioma, who was nine years old, was so excited to see her old missionary friend again.
“Her name means God is great,” explained Fred E.
“She certainly seems to live that way. It’s clear that she feels that He’s a good, great God. She loves Him a lot, ” agreed Fred D.
The girl was telling Miss Agnes all the wonderful things that God had done in the last few years.
They lived in a tiny apartment with several cousins. “Mother has a job in an office building, and I am learning all kinds of things in school. God has given us money for food and school supplies and soon, I will set up a shop in the market place and sell purses that I’ve made.”
She presented each of the missionaries with one of her pretty bags.
“I’ll cherish it,” said Miss Agnes.
Chioma loved her birthday gifts of a red dress and a wonderful new book. Sally gave her a woven bracelet from Ecuador.
Later they took a walk to a nearby section of town.
“I have lots of friends here. This is where we lived when we first came to the city, before mother got training for her job at the mission school. They teach sewing or agriculture or computer skills to the women. I’m in the west wing with the other children, but we go over there to learn special things sometimes.”
Fred E. was sitting on Chioma’s shoulder. He could see rows and rows of small shanties as they turned a corner.
“It’s not very nice during the rainy season. We have lots of mud then,” said one of the cousins.
Suddenly they heard a shout.” Miss Penny?”
They all turned to look. Who would know Penny here in the big city?
But Penny exclaimed, “Aisha? Is it really you?”
The girl ran to hug Penny. “You remember my sister, Kali?”
A small girl, who was very thin and sickly, stared at them, wide eyed.
“Of course, but….”
It was clear that Aisha did not even live in one of those shanties. She seemed to have no more than a blanket on the ground.
“I brought some food,” said Chioma.
“Give it to someone else. We had enough. Some people gave us money, today.”
The frogs certainly didn’t think they looked like they had enough food that day. Fred E. hopped over to greet them. The tiny girl smiled weakly, holding out her hand to him.
“But what are you doing here?” asked Penny. “And where’s your mother?” Penny turned aside to explain to Sally and Miss Agnes. “They ran when their Christian village was attacked by enemies. They escaped through the bush country.”
“It was impossible in the refugee camp, too,” said Aisha. “People were cruel to us because we’re Christians, and there was no food, anyway. We came on to the city, but Mother was so sick that she died. And we never found my brother and my aunt.”
Penny hugged her again, and looked down at little Kali sympathetically. “I’m sorry your mother is gone, but your brother made it back to the village. And your aunt never did leave. She knew she couldn’t make the trip. The people that attacked your village are gone and your brother rebuilt your hut. Come back with us!”
“We can really go home?”
The next day, they were on the way—with two more passengers. Aisha had given Chioma a big hug, for she had often brought food—and now the two refugees were heading home.
She chattered all the way, though her little sister was weak and sick and slept a good part of the way.
“Miss Penny came over to our village and told us Bible stories,” she told Sally and Miss Agnes. “I asked Jesus to be my Savior on Easter Sunday when I heard about how He died on the cross and rose again. Then a little church got started and lots of people followed Jesus.”
They left Miss Agnes in her village in the cliffs, after telling stories to the kids, as promised, and staying overnight.
They gave Kali some good food and medicine and then they were off.
They had to use the extra tire—for the roads were just as bad as always, and Aisha helped Penny and Sally push the new jeep van out of a huge mud puddle a little further along. But soon they arrived safely at Aisha and Kali’s village. Many huts were still in ruins but the people were rebuilding and harvesting their crops.
“Aisha!” An old woman sat in front of her hut and the girl ran to her.
They carried Kali in and knew that she would be all right. In the meantime, Obasi, their brother had seen them and came running in from the field.
“They’ll be all right here,” said the old woman. “A missionary team brought us a goat and we have milk enough for us and the neighbors. And they helped rebuild some houses and the church. God has been good to us! And now our girls are home!”
“Finally!” said Fred E. settling into the mud of his favorite waterhole. ” I like to go on trips, but it’s even better to get home.”
Jabir’s sister had met them on the road. She probably should have still been careful of her arm, but she was insisting on helping all she could.
It was recess at school, and Jabir came running to see Fred D. and the others.
“I’ll be going to school, too,” she had told them. “But I’m starting at the very beginning. Jabir reads to me from the Bible but sometime soon, I’ll read it myself!”
“It’s going to take a lot longer than she thinks to learn to read,” grumbled their old friend, who always thought the worst. “And I thought you were never coming back. Maybe you’d been lost or run over or something….”
The frogs told their friends all about their adventures.
“And sometime you’ll all have to come visit Sally and me in Ecuador,” said Fred D.
They all hooted and laughed. “Can you see all of us on an airplane?” asked the elephant.
“Not me!” shivered their friend.
“I wouldn’t mind,” chattered a monkey, who had been listening in.
Suddenly they heard the shouting and laughing of children.
“Come on, everyone, it’s Bible Club time!” Fred E. shouted— and Fred D. led the way.
By Carol Bennett