Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Life as I Knew It

The Ethiope River
 
I never lived in Eku, Nigeria and only visited once or twice but I still have an incredible memory of the Ethiope River near Eku. On one of the visits my father and another missionary man, whom I can't recall, took me up river so I could swim back down river.

The place we entered was only about a five minute swim from the pier but it seemed to take forever to get there. We drove for something like ten minutes then parked the car and walked a small path for probably another five or ten minutes. At long last, we came to the river. From the bank we could see the other side. Even as an eight or nine year old it did not look too far to swim. My dad put goggles, flippers, and a snorkel on me. The other missionary went in 1st, then me, and my dad last, swimming behind me. What happened next was like a visit to Disney World to me. At the time I had never been to Disney or any place like it but this experience was one of the most amazing experiences of my life.

What appeared to me to be a short, easy swim to the other bank suddenly seemed wild, challenging, exciting, and even scary. I kept my eyes under the water with my mask on and in an instant the ground below me dropped what seemed to be a mile. I don’t really know how deep it was but it was clear to my young eyes that it was deeper than anyplace I'd ever swam before. It felt like I was swimming from the top of one underwater mountain to another as I swam from that shore line to a sand dune a short distance away. The river floor below was alive too! There was grass swaying and fish swimming everywhere. I understood why my dad wanted to be behind me and didn’t want me swimming this part of the river by myself. And I was really glad he was there!

Very soon the three of us were on the sand dune resting. I sat there in utter amazement and wonder at what I had just seen. Then we set out again and swam to the pier which seemed to be just around the corner. The river floor below me in this part was much more shallow, brown in color from the sand, less green and not so alive.