…about Kondi’s Quest.

I’m delighted to have as my guest today, Sylvia Stewart, whose book, Kondi’s Quest, has just been released by OakTara. Sylvia’s many years in mission work in Africa gave her a heart for the people, which is evident in this poignant story about a young girl of Malawi. Without further ado, we’ll hear from Sylvia:

In 1946, a few days before my sixth birthday, I landed in Stanleyville, The Belgian Congo. I remember the palm trees flying by as our old propeller plane taxied down the dirt runway. We stepped out into muggy heat as we crossed to the terminal.

From that day, Africa has been my second home – as dear to me as my birth home in Oregon, U.S.A. As I grew up, my one desire was to “go back home” to Africa.

Our mother taught me first and second grade. Then I went to Rethy Academy, 350 miles and 10 hours’ drive from my parents. I began to learn to think for myself, to be independent and to rely on my heavenly Father.

I especially remember one moonlit night, lying on my back in my dorm room’s top bunk. Loneliness crushed my heart until I could hardly breathe. I’m alone – all, all alone! Just then a jackal began to howl not far away, and I wanted to howl with him. Tears trickled into my ears and I clapped my pillow over my head to stifle the sobs that shook my slight frame. I didn’t want the other girls in the room to hear me crying, and think I was a baby. In the stuffy darkness under the pillow, with even the moonlight cut off, God spoke to my heart as clearly as if His voice had been audible: “I’m here. You’re not alone – I am here!”

Throughout my life, God has been “here” for me. In the ups and downs, in the thick and thin, in the joys and sorrows, He has been the Solid Rock to which I’ve clung. I learned this lesson early in life because I had to be away from my parents at such a young age. God is WITH me and will help me through any issue that I face.

Kondi lives in Malawi, East Africa. She will show you much about her culture and the African way of life. Kondi is the composite of a number of Malawian girls I knew. She has poignant, tragic and funny experiences. She’s artistic, smart and loving. She’s also afraid.

Will this same promise also hold true for Kondi in Kondi’s Quest? Will God be close to her in all her troubles and her efforts to please God and her earthly father? Will she learn that living for God meant He waswith her – even when He seemed to be distant?

It is my prayer that Kondi’s story will touch the hearts of pre-teens around the world and help them know God loves them and that they will experience His presence when they are most vulnerable and in difficult circumstances.

~Sylvia Stewart

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…about The Blue-Sprigged Dimity Dress.

I think I was eleven years old when my grandmother told me about the first time she wore a long dress.

When she was a girl, back in the late 1800s, women wore long dresses but little girls didn’t. And having her first long dress was a proud milestone on her journey to adulthood.

Her story is a cherished memory. I can still remember how she looked as she told it, can see the brilliance of her blue eyes, the smile crinkles at their corners, and can hear her chuckles.

I always wanted to tell that story, to write it down so it wouldn’t be lost. I tried to do that when I was in my thirties, but it was a pitiful effort. I decided that I didn’t have the talent necessary to write it, so I forgot about it. Until I was in my sixties.

Some things I learned about the history of Scotland demanded to be told. I tried to write a fictionalized account of them, but, as with my grandmother’s story, my efforts were lame. But I’d discovered something during the intervening years: most things can be learned, and if you apply yourself, you can do a passable job of quite a few things.

So I set out to learn how to write.

After I wrote my first novel, High on a Mountain, the next thing I wrote was my grandmother’s coming-of-age story. This time, I was happy with it. But now, after it has rested on my computer the four years since I wrote it, I can see it’s woefully lacking. I want it to be a tribute to my grandmother, so I’ve decided to rewrite “The Blue-sprigged Dimity Dress,” to make it something she would be proud of.

I’m starting the rewrite today.

Ma, this is for you.