The explosion, though expected, was stultifying to the senses when it came. The fireball cannoned high into the night sky, a dervish swirling in the wind. The extraordinary beauty of the highway of bright orange ashes that was laid, against the terror of what else might ignite somehow fitted the tragedy of the fire that razed my house to the ground that windy November evening.
This is my tribute to the heroes of that night. The list is long, and I pray comprehensive. I would ask that you be inspired by their generosity of spirit, their humanity and their compassion without which I would not have survived the pain of loss as I have.
Maggie and Barbs, you were first on the scene, you brought a fire extinguisher, you made the calls, and then you stood by me, and held me up. As if that was not enough, you then wrapped me in love and care and took me home and looked after me as if I was your own.
Shane, you came running, and you did not stop until you were certain every house was safe. You braved the heat to make sure any remains would be safe, and helped me find some of what I thought was lost.
Carlos, what a star you were, taking control, quietly and efficiently sorting out all the technical problems to ensure the damage was limited. You tried to lead me away, to leave the ruins and move forward. May that be your portion, too.
Rio, you blessed my heart so much with your concern, your love and your consideration! I wore your socks today….and wondered how one so young could be so aware of a simple need of mine: that of proper walking shoes!
Monika, your voice of encouragement and certainty that this was not the end has come back again and again to reassure me. You are a tower of strength and support.
Jacques, my one “young ‘un”, bless you man of God for the comfort of your arms around me, your wanting to shield me from the sight, offering to “look” for me. To Sonia, my other “young ‘un” for your prayers and words of encouragement, your gifts of much-needed items that helped keep things normal
Peet, your quiet strength, the power of the words you spoke to me on the dune that night touched the inner core of my being with hope. You reminded me that no matter what is going on around us, we can stand secure, no matter how broken we are there is hope, for no reason other than we know our God! The prayers you have prayed, the bread we broke, the strength you imparted, thank you and may God continue to use you as His own.
Erma who, in the midst of leaving Chizavane for a much-needed break, thought to leave clothes for me, and unhesitatingly parted with new items that I needed so badly.
Tomaz, for your foresight in dismantling the stairway so the fire had no route to spread, for your ongoing, reticent concern that I am coping – I will yet eat of your crayfish!
Jaime and Alda, you are such faithful workers. Jaime, you have never once mentioned all that you lost in that fire, or asked for compensation. You worked like the Duracell Man that you are in the hot sun to clear the wreckage so the scar could heal. Alda, you too, never complained about your loss. You have adapted to our new circumstances, and just got on with what needs to be done.
My neighbours, Kevin and Cathrien, Ronnie and Sandrine, Louis and Frederica, and Mayke, how do I thank you all for the supplies you bought, and Kevin took the time to deliver from Maputo. The thoughtfulness of each little detail, down to making sure I had the tea I like, the toiletries, the journal, broke my heart while making it rejoice! Zara, your gift for Snatch has touched many people.
John and Jane for tears together, for clothes, for thinking of and providing the cash I needed to get my emergency passport and to get back to Swaziland when I couldn’t think for myself.
Mathe for making sure I could get papers, Senhor Cou for being so patient with one who tries you, Gloria for your support and prayers, the residents of Chizavane who stopped for a minute to pray for us, thank you.
Before I leave Mocambique for Swaziland I am sure there are those of you wondering: what of Scott? He is so huge that I cannot include him here, he has to stand alone. He is the only person who hears the cry of my heart before the words are formed in my mouth, and the gratitude I feel is deeper than words can say.
A full week after the fire I had all the documents I needed to travel to Swaziland. It was an exhausting week, and I only realised how drained of energy I was when I couldn’t keep the car on the road. So I rested for two days, and then made the heartsore journey to the land of my birth.
More love and support awaited me. The calls had not stopped coming since the news of the fire got out and now it was time for the hugs, telling the story over and over, loving and being loved by those who have ever been friends.
Barry and Viki, as always, first on the phone, offering cash as they were too far away to do anything else, to do whatever I needed doing if it was in their power to do it. Then the books, the offering you collected, the notebooks, pens, soaps that I love, thank you.
Martie, you offered refuge, you offered help, I just had to let you know what I needed.
Helen Ward and Potter’s Wheel your donation was more than generous and will play an important role in getting me on track with writing again.
Carlie, you and Jim opened your home, your friendship is boundless, and you went into overdrive to make me fashionable again! You made my Christmas Pud, but most of all you listened, even if you did get a bit bored and dump me in the pineapple fields at the last!
Dottie, you gave me the best gift – that pamper session was what I needed to get fully back on my feet again.
Wendy, my face and I thank you for your gift of the tools of our former trade.
Caroline, your case of clothes produced an outfit that made me belle of the Thanksgiving ball at the beach, your thoughtfulness in giving me a devotional that I so needed, the towels, soaps, you are a treasure.
Estelle, you and Hannes went the extra mile as you always do – my first new book and such a clever one at that! I will use your love gift to replace my bible and concordance.
Joan, Jean, Margaret and Berdien, you have no idea how much your calls and your support meant, how good it was to hear from you.
Dick and Jenny, Susan for your gift, which helped, replace much-needed supplies.
Mathew, thank you for thinking to ask if I was unhurt, Bev for your prayers and words of encouragement, Kirsty for keeping tabs on the progress down here.
And then to my sons, Dwayne and Mark, to Vanessa, who are my support team, my advisors, my reasons for carrying on.
To each one of you, may the God of my sufficiency bless you abundantly according to His riches in Christ Jesus.