But ask the animals, and they will teach you…that the hand of the Lord has done this?
In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind. Job 12:7, 9, 10
Today I came across a picture of Josephine. It evoked nostalgia and reminded me of my adventure with her and the bond we formed in months of working in the capital of Uganda, Kampala. Being away from home so long, I was missing Albert and Victoria and the companionship that came with their unconditional love.
The night was rainy, one of those times when the skies seemed to be falling and the rain drops stung when they hit you. It was impossible to sleep. In the middle of that thunderous monsoon, I heard a sound of desperate crying coming from somewhere near. I wanted to pretend I hadn’t heard that piercing sound and tried to go back to sleep. But the moans wouldn’t stop.
Finally, I put on my robe, picked up my umbrella and my torch (flashlight), and headed out the door to locate the source of the cries. Louder and louder they came as I approached the huge rubbish pit in the banana trees just below my terrace. I shined my light all around the bottom of the hole, and about fourteen feet down, I saw a terrified dog who had fallen in during her nightly quest for food. I called to her, but there was nothing I could do until the household woke up, and I could get a ladder.
Several hours later, the house lights came on, so I knocked on the back door and explained the dilemma and need for help. Gilbert and Jackson put on their rain slickers, got a ladder, and followed me. The three of us were eventually able to subdue and get the frightened animal out of the hole. As soon as she reached the top, she sped to a place near the back of the compound where we discovered she had four newborn babies. (Later, in the morning we discovered two more babies who had fallen into the nearby latrine and needed rescuing.)
Josephine (so named because we had pulled her out of the pit) became my constant companion anytime I left my apartment on the compound. We gave the babies biblical names (Joseph, Daniel, Jeremiah, etc.) referring to those who had also had “pit” experiences. The house boys helped with feeding Josephine—the neighboring guest house saved us all their scraps—Josephine didn’t like commercial dog food. And various neighbors eventually adopted all the babies.
Whenever I needed a little reminder of home, Josephine was there. She and the babies ran to greet me anytime I was within viewing distance of their little makeshift home. She changed the entire culture of the compound in a place that wasn’t accustomed to having animals as pets. And she shared that same unconditional love with all our visitors.
The day came for me to pack up and begin my twenty-seven hour trip home. I couldn’t bear to tell Josephine I was leaving, but somehow she knew and came up to my apartment to haunt the doorway all day long. Then she disappeared. When my driver appeared to take me to the airport that night, I saw a movement in the bushes. It was Josephine. She had come out to say goodbye. And then she was gone.
In all my later visits back to my temporary home in Kampala, Josephine remembered me and was always as happy to see me as I her. The boys kept their promise and watched over and loved her. This past year I got a message that Josephine was sick, and the vet was called (an amazing occurrence). Josephine was loved and buried within the compound.
Am I romanticizing to think that God sent her just to bring me companionship at a lonely time? That she stayed to demonstrate unconditional love to the other family members in the compound? And that Josephine changed a tiny piece of culture?
Father, I am so grateful for all those demonstrations of love you shower on us. Thank you especially for Albert and Victoria, for Edward and Frances, and for sweet Josephine. They have been wonderful blessings from you who created all things. AMEN.