When I was a little girl about ten years old in the fifth grade, we studied the great world explorations. I remember reading about the Portuguese explorer Bartolomeu Diaz who sailed around the southernmost tip of South Africa and called it the Cape of Good Hope. There was something about the Cape of Good Hope that sounded so exotic and exciting to my 10-year-old self I wanted to go there. It was my dream place for at least that year when I was in fifth grade. Today I would not call myself a world explorer or even really adventurous. But when I was ten years old, I wanted to go to the southernmost part of Africa. My preoccupation with my travel plans soon gave way to the realities of life as I progressed through my primary school years, high school, boys, parties, college, work, marriage, and motherhood. It seemed in a short while; my travels were limited to summer vacations with my two children and husband at one of our favorite beaches here in America. No Cape of Good Hope for me. My childhood hope was forgotten.
Now fast forward to fifty-two years later. My 24-year-old daughter graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with plans to go to the Peace Corp. Her requested destination was Costa Rica. She did not get her requested destination but was assigned to Mozambique on the southeast coast of Africa to teach Chemistry to middle school girls. She was disappointed not to have been given her first choice. But I encouraged her to take the assignment in Mozambique and go anyway. I thought of the opportunity she would have to influence these young girls’ lives. I also thought of the opportunity these girls would have to interact with a young Black American woman. I was excited by the possibilities. Eventually, my daughter grew in excitement and understanding of the challenges of such a task. She was willing to go but made me promise to visit her there. So, of course, the promise was made.
About one year into her service commitment, I researched Mozambique and realized how close it was to South Africa. I visited a travel agent and began planning my trip. I decided to spend some time in South Africa to visit Nelson Mandela’s famous Johannesburg and Cape Town places. My itinerary was finally finished. I would be spending one week in South Africa in Johannesburg and Cape Town and one week in Maputo, the capital of Mozambique. In deciding which places to visit and tours to take, I discovered Cape Town was close to the Cape of Good Hope, my secret childhood adventure. Immediately my eyes were filled with tears as I remembered my secret childhood dream of going to the Cape Of Good Hope. I became overwhelmed, thinking that God had turned this secret desire I had forgotten about into a prayer He was now answering over 50 years later.
My life has had its share of sorrows and disappointments that often left me feeling alienated. My mother died suddenly when I was 23 years old. She died one week before my last semester in college was to begin. I thought, how could I ever make it through this. But I did. Two years later, I had a stillbirth son, and a few years after that, my father died. Before I was thirty years old, I had buried my mother, a child, and my Dad. In a few short years into my thirties, I was to bury my brother closest to me in age and relationship. My marriage was a difficult one that ended in divorce after 22 years. In my young adult life, I often felt alone and isolated, holding onto only the promises of God that He would never leave me nor forsake me. I held on, or should I say He held onto me. Getting the opportunity to visit the Cape of Good Hope was a confirmation that God had never left me. Through all my loneliness, isolation, and grief, God was with me. He heard my cries! Truly He is Emanual! Here I was planning a trip to my secret place that only God knew.
The time finally came for me to go on my adventure. I had not seen my daughter for 15 months. We talked and shared pictures over the internet, but you need to lay your eyes on your children to look at them as mothers. I was over the top excited to see my daughter and nervous about the fifteen-hour flight to Johannesburg. My daughter and I met in Johannesburg. When we saw each other, we cried and hugged for some time. She looked beautiful to me. She had matured and looked radiant, probably from the African sun. We flew together to Cape Town, and on our second day there, we began our tour of the southernmost part of Africa. South Africa was more beautiful than I could imagine. As I stood there with the wind blowing on my face, I thought of myself as a 10-year-old child whispering in my heart to God, hoping that he was listening. But not knowing this was in the plan for my daughter and me, that was not yet formed. When we call on Him, He will answer. I remembered the scripture:
Delight thyself also in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4