Real Time Web Analytics

August 17, 2017

In recent days Wanda and I, Ida and Fanny have found ourselves ‘out’ again which means we lack a permanent home. It is not a pleasant place to be but it is what God has given us. The other day 'Mia', a much beloved sister in Christ, sent us a story about a fire and a baboon. The story touched me deeply for it was a clear parable from the Lord about our situation. I asked our dear friend if we could reproduce it and she has graciously agreed. As you read please keep in mind that our family can readily and completely relate to the old baboon in her story.

I am sharing a wonderful story of an old baboon that came to live with us after the devastating fire of June 7, 2017.

On Wednesday, June 7, a devastating fire hit the Knysna and Plettenberg Bay area. I have been living here 14 years and never before in my life have I experienced something like this. It started in Knysna and spread very quickly to Plettenberg Bay. This was one of the dryest years we have ever experienced. To make things worse a gale-force wind was blowing and made it impossible for the fire fighters to either control or stop the fast moving fire. Many houses were destroyed here and all the vegetation was burned leaving just black soot and black skeletons which used to be beautiful trees. The area is well known for the Fynbos and they were all destroyed.

On our property, 10 hectares, we have two cottages and my sister’s house. The one cottage has a small flatlet adjacent to it. Before the fire no other homes were visible due to the dense vegetation. We had lots of bird life and the beautiful Knysna Loeries frequently sat on the lawn to feed on some growth at a certain time of the year. We also had wild pigs, some deer and porcupines.

When the fire reached us we had to evacuate. Some trees here were up to 50 metres high and they burned so fast. It looked like big fire waves rolling towards us. When we came back the next morning we were so grateful as both cottages and my sister’s house were still standing. I lost the front and back doors as well as the balustrade around the small verandah, all the floor tiles on the verandah, as well as the pipes from the bathroom that melted away. All the surrounding vegetation around here was destroyed. The Saturday after this a gale-force wind (98 km/h) started blowing and another big window was ripped out. We lost about 100 roof tiles between the two cottages. As the fire was still smoldering it picked up again and many houses in this area burned right down to the ground. It was devastating and traumatic to see it all happening again. We were safe though as there was nothing left to burn. Not even a piece of grass. Neither my sister's house burned down except for her water tank and gutters that melted.

We are still busy fixing up. God in His kindness has provided and slowly but surely it is being fixed. The green grass is also shooting up and some trees are sprouting from the bottom. Absolutely awesome and makes me so thankful to see.

On the next Tuesday after the gale I noticed a single baboon outside. The dogs were chasing him and he tried to get to safer ground. I calmed the dogs, took them indoors and put some fruit outside for the baboon. When he felt safe he took it and ate it. We realized there was no food left for him. He was a loner and I could see from his walk that he was very old. We noticed that he kept hanging around our area.

A few days after this my grandson called me and said, "Granny come look, he is on the verandah and trying to stroke the dogs." Now, the one thing the dogs hated was the baboons. They always went mad and chased them off. Needless to say they had to get stitches a few times from previous fights. I was amazed at his behavior. This was only about 3 days after Mr. Baboon arrived here. I kept calming the dogs and said, "Peace to you all." I told the dogs the baboon was old, hungry and they must not hurt him. I also said to the baboon, "Peace to you and we won't kill you." Most people here fire shots at the baboons and also shoot them.

Mr. Baboon was more scared of the humans than the dogs. We watched him and saw that he moved in downstairs where stuff was stored. The windows are always left open so he could come and go as he pleased. He actually slept there at night and we made it more comfortable by putting down some bags for him to sleep on. He also stayed in when the rain started falling. Every day we fed him potatoes, fruit, sweet potatoes and other vegetables. One day he came indoors and took an orange from the table. He sat on the table eating it and when we entered he went and sat under the table. I went to the Cape Nature Conservation Center and told them what was happening. They said if Mr. Baboon is a loner he must have been a prominent male. They won't accept him back into the troop because he was kicked out. Mr. Baboon would visit daily between the cottages eating whatever we put out for him. We saw the dogs passing in his midst many days. Sometimes the dogs would bark but he just ignored them and kept eating quietly. He was not aggressive at all and eventually the dogs let him be.

One day I came back and he was on the verandah. He must have realized we wouldn't harm him as he stopped hiding and running away from us. I walked outside and told ‘Friday’, the Rhodesian Ridgeback, to stay calm. She put her tail between her legs and came to me. I was about 12 inches from the two of them. Mr. Baboon slowly climbed down and sat downstairs. He used to sit in the sun every day in the window sill. Just enjoying the sun and eating whatever was served up. Sometimes he wandered around but he always came back. The dogs would sit upstairs peeping down many times a day just staring at him. That was incredible. They seemed very startled at him living here.

Then one morning I saw how he stared across the blackness. Sometimes we heard him calling. My heart was moved as I noticed his loneliness and I was sure he missed his beautiful playground. I noticed also that it seemed he was suffering from something like arthritis as he could never run fast and had a bit of a limp. I always checked if he was ok. The neighbors told us we were unwise and should have him shot as he is dangerous. We were always concerned that someone would shoot him as I sometimes heard shots around here. I figured these people let fear drive them instead of love.

One evening after he had lived here for about 5 weeks I asked if I could pray over our supper. Without any thought of Mr. Baboon or even discussing it the following words fell out of my mouth. "Dear Father, (huge long sigh), please take Mr. Baboon home to you. He is so lonely and I can see he is hurting emotionally and physically." I then thanked Him for our supper.

I forgot all about this. The next morning, I peeped over and I saw him sitting, just staring again over the black surroundings. He folded his one arm around his waist and put his long, thin hand on a cactus that had fallen over from the fire. I felt so sorry for him. I greeted him and he turned around, staring at me. He took one bite off a carrot I put out and threw it aside. I went indoors to fetch 2 slices of brown bread and later put out fruit and potatoes. He ate the bread and went back indoors. He stayed indoors all day. Late that afternoon I asked Daniel to please check if he is there as he is very quiet. Daniel found him stretched out on his stomach on his bed. Mr. Baboon was dead.

I wept so much until Daniel reminded me “Mia, did you forget you prayed last night that he must be taken to God?" I then remembered, though I still miss him and tears still stream from my eyes. We buried him close to the house in the field.

And I am glad he felt safe here and spent his last days here. I will see him again, I know. We all miss him though. And it meant so much to me that he chose to come here even though there are big dogs around.

Mia’s story touched us all deeply for we have felt very much like old Mr. Baboon. With no home to go to we just drift around. Many people we met wanted to drive us off or kill us. I agree with Mia that these people were moving out of fear of what they do not understand. Unfortunately, those without homes and the poor are often treated this way, along with the animals. I am glad to see that there are those in the world, however, that show humility, empathy and sacrifice for His creation, both animal and human. It is a rare thing to see. I thank Mia for sharing her beautiful and touching story with all of us. May we take this parable from His hand and embed it deep into our hearts.