Orphaned Grace (Part 5)

Earlier posts of Orphaned Grace: Part 1  Part 2  Part 3  Part 4

The next morning I wake up to an urgent hiss. Next to me Neema is asleep; Uncle Rob and the ranger’s anxious faces are pressed against the fence.

“Anna! Get out of there now!”

I have the sense that, despite his many stern words, Uncle Rob is actually a little proud of me. He allows me back into the enclosure almost immediately with a bottle of the formula. Neema’s attempt at drinking is clumsy and most of it spills onto the floor, but Uncle Rob and I agree that we’ve made good progress. Continue reading

Orphaned Grace (Part 4)

Earlier posts of Orphaned Grace: Part 1  Part 2  Part 3

Throughout that afternoon, Neema continues her destructive behaviour. Nobody can get near her to try and feed her and Uncle Rob is adamant that Jabu and I stay out of the enclosure, reminding us constantly just how heavy she is. By nightfall Jabu and I are forced to go home, no closer to giving Neema the formula.

But I know what I need to do. That night I lie awake listening to the house falling silent. When I am sure that even Uncle Rob is asleep, I pad to the door in my slippers and gown, and slip into the cool night. There is almost no moon, and the Milky Way ribbons across the sky in all its splendour. I remember my father’s words. Seeing an African night sky is like touching the face of God. I look for the two distant galaxies he once showed me, for the super-nova and the Southern Cross. I trace their shape with my fingers and marvel at the silent vastness, feeling my own smallness as never before. Is this what it feels like to touch God’s face? Continue reading

Orphaned Grace (Part 3)

Earlier posts of Orphaned Grace: Part 1,  Part 2

We find the elephant pressed back against her mother’s side and Uncle Rob brings her down with a single dart. That’s the easy part. Next Samuel brings a thick piece of canvas; it takes six rangers to roll her onto it. The material strains under the weight as they half lift, half drag her back to the camp. Every twenty steps or so the men are forced to stop and new carriers take their place. Once inside the camp, a crowd of people push around to take a look at the elephant and the progress becomes even slower, until my uncle shouts for a path to be cleared to the enclosure. Continue reading

Orphaned Grace (Part 2)

Earlier posts of Orphaned Grace: Part 1

That night my sleep is restless. Elephants charge through my dreams, catching me in their wild stampede; poachers’ guns maim my uncle and cousins; and a small elephant is surrounded by a pack of hyenas, moving in closer…closer. I wake with a start, my breathing laboured. The image of the hyenas crouching down for the jump still burns behind my eyes, but I am relieved to find it’s just a bad dream. There’s no baby elephant, no hyenas. Continue reading

Orphaned Grace (Part 1)

This is the first part of a 7-part story set in the African bush.


Neema came into my life one dark, brooding September day. I remember how the promise of rain after the long dry season had brought a lightness throughout the Ngwenya bush camp. It was the first day of mid-term break, and—unlike all the other boarders—I was not happy to be home.

Home—the place of memories, the place where I could never forget. Continue reading

7-Part Story starts Monday!

I’m excited to announce something new on my blog. From Monday, you’ll be able to read a very special short story that I’ve written. It will run as a 7-part series for two weeks on a Monday, Wednesday and Friday.  “Neema” is the Swahili word for ‘grace’ and it’s the name of the young elephant in my story, who I hope will touch your hearts. Continue reading

Speaking to Teachers about your Child’s Asperger’s Syndrome

At the beginning of each school year I am always faced with the decision of how much to share with the new group of teachers regarding my daughter’s Asperger’s Syndrome. This question crops up any time we start a new after-school activity too. On the one hand, teachers need to understand the reason behind some of the behaviours they may encounter, but on the other I don’t want them to start treating Ashlyn as ‘different’ or lowering their expectations of what she can achieve. Continue reading

Simeon’s Awe & Anna’s Praise

Christmas Devotion 2

Our Christmases are busy, bustling times. It’s surprisingly easy to lose sight of the miracle we celebrate: God coming into our midst. Even two thousand years ago in Israel—where people debated and discussed the Promised Messiah—there were few who truly recognised him. But step back into time with me and take a look at two who did.

My fingers graze against the rough walls as I climb the temple steps. I pause at the top to catch my breath, and look back over the sprawl of Jerusalem. In my youth I would have bounded up those steps two at a time, so keen was I to enter Yahweh’s courts. I’m still keen, Lord, just a little slower. The gate ahead of me leads to the broad Court of the Gentiles. Continue reading