An extract from my second book, soon to be printed, “Sword, Fire and Oil”.
The vegetation began to change. Mopani tree forests blended into the massive acacia trees, and we were walking in permanent shade. We began to cross many small streams as we wound our way on foot paths up and down small hills. Again that night we slept out in the open.
Distant calls of Hyena’s could be heard. The clear fluted sound of a night-jar’s echoed through the woods. These birds are nocturnal and only call when there is peace in the air. Any disturbance and they suddenly go quiet.
At first light we set off again, our third and final day. By now we were more accepted by the soldiers and were able to have an odd chat with them. They were Christians. I remember asking the one soldier, “So how far is it still to the camp?” His answer was, “Over the next hill”. “OK thanks, not far”. When we had gone over two hills I asked the same question, only to get the same answer. That settled that.
Three days walking and we ended up at a village – or so it seemed, and shown our different places to stay in. Mine was a rudely thatched hut with walls of grass 4 feet high all around and a roof. Inside was a ‘bed’ made of thin poles from young saplings from the bush. It was hard to see the ‘hut’ next to mine as the bush was not flattened, it remained to cover or camouflage the existence of the camp. There was absolute silence, men talked in very low tones. Not wood being chopped, no singing, no yelling to get each others attention.
I knew instinctively what this meant and what this base was. A military training camp. When my pack arrived, I stripped it of all that was inside it and placed it out on the poles. Bible, USMC K-Bar Knife, water bottle (always full) Survival kit: (fishing-line, hooks, small magnifying glass, strong para-cord, suture kit, stainless steel mirror, compass, painkillers and anointing oil). My second smaller knife I kept permanently in my boot.
I repacked it as if for an instant departure, (hot-extraction). I so appreciated the seven years Special Forces experience I had. It had become so useful for missions.
That evening we met the rest of the team. We were there to train 2000 pastors, for 4 days in a war-zone deep in the bush.