Angry voices echoed against the rough stone cliffs surrounding the valley as the young people made their way down the mountain path. Tie Li glanced repeatedly out into the desert. The cloud of dust kicked up by the thundering hooves of Pharaoh’s horses continued to move ever closer.
The vast throng of people straining at the water’s edge seemed to create a sea of their own—a troubled sea, tossing waves of fear and frustration from one human shoreline to the next. Each face was a tempest of emotions. Each shout, a roaring wind.
“Moses! You brought us out here. What are you going to do now? Did you take us from our homes to die in the desert? Weren’t there enough graves in Egypt?”
“We were fools to listen to you, Moses. Now we’re paying the price for our stupidity.” Tony stopped at an outcropping overlooking the scene. Simon and Tie Li edged close to him, straining to see what would happen next. They didn’t have long to wait. Above the shouts and cries of the crowd, another voice rang through the valley. Tony pointed toward the shore. There Moses stood on a rock, facing the people. In his hand was a shepherd’s rod.
“Fear not! Fear not! The Lord God has not forsaken us. Watch and see your salvation. Behold, the hand of God!”
Suddenly a thick, dark cloud came down behind the people and separated them from Pharaoh’s army. The Egyptians had to stop, for they could no longer see their prey. Then Moses raised the rod in his hand, and as he did, a sound like a thousand waterfalls filled the air. All voices fell silent. All eyes looked in the direction of the sea.
A violent wind blew across the waters. Children screamed and grabbed their parents in fear. Tie Li fell to her knees as the leading edge of the blast swept past her. Simon struggled to remain on his feet. “LOOK!” he cried, pointing toward the now-writhing sea.
“I don’t believe it. It’s impossible! It’s just impossible!” Tony shouted, his voice lost in the deafening wail of the wind.
The sea was separating, as if a giant hand were pushing the waves aside. Two towering walls of water formed and began moving slowly away from each other, leaving nothing between but dry ground. The liquid embankments boiled and churned inside themselves, their sheer faces turning white with foam.
Tony glanced toward Moses. The leader stood steadfast on his rocky platform, facing the sea, arms outstretched.
As suddenly as it had started, the roar ceased. The wind continued to blow, but with less intensity. Moses climbed down from his rock and walked to the shore. Turning to face the multitude, he lifted his rod high above his head once again. His voice carried on the wind and swept over the people. “Come. Follow a God who knows no enemies; a God who will fight your fights for you!”
A mighty cheer rose from the throng as men, women, children, cows, and sheep spilled like a living tide onto the now-dry sea floor. On each side of the moving river of humanity rose massive walls of water, held in place by unseen hands.
Out in the desert the army stood unmoving, their vision obscured by the thick cloud.
As the time travelers made their way back up the mountain toward Voyager, Simon was silent. Cresting the summit, he turned to face the sea. “You were right, Tony,” he said. “God knew something those people didn’t know. He knew His own power.”
Tony surveyed the scene for a long moment. “Sometimes people forget what God is capable of. I guess that’s fear, forgetting what God can do.”
The three entered Tony’s machine. Soon the mountain sat silent once again in the sun. Far below moved a people who had rediscovered the power of God, a power stronger than the doubt of a nation, and mightier than a Pharaoh’s army.
Over the next few weeks the countryside around the Parkses’ farm lost all remnants of autumn as night after night a cold Arctic wind whistled down from the north and wrapped the world in its frozen embrace. Tie Li, a child of tropical seasons, wore more and more clothes each time she ventured out for school or play. Tony had to laugh every time he saw her.
“You look like a fur ball,” he’d say as they left the house on the way to school.
Tie Li’s response to his friendly jabs was always lost in the layers of cloth separating her mouth from the outside world.
Even Mrs. Parks would chuckle at her little daughter standing by the front door each morning.
“Oh, dear,” she’d say. “Can you move all right, Tie Li?” A gloved hand would rise about waist high. A booted foot would swing heavily from side to side, forming an arc not more than six inches across. But Tie Li would nod her head, indicating that all was well under the bundle of clothes.
One morning as the sun began to peek above the eastern pastures, Tony woke with a start. He lifted himself up on one arm and looked out the window. A broad grin creased his face. He jammed excited feet into a pair of slippers and punched his way into the bathrobe hanging behind the door.
Tiptoeing down the hall, he knocked quietly on Tie Li’s door. Opening it a crack, he whispered in the direction of his sleeping sister. “Tie Li, wake up. I want to show you something.”
The girl turned to face the door, her mouth opening into a wide yawn. “What you show me, Tony?” she asked.
Tony walked toward the window, motioning for Tie Li to follow. “Come, look out on the lawn.”
Tie Li slipped out of bed and joined Tony by the window. She pressed her face against the cool glass for support and opened her eyes. At first she said nothing. Tony waited.
Slowly she began to realize that something was very different outside. Everything seemed to be just one color—white. The lawn, the driveway, the fields, everything was covered with a pure white blanket.”Snow!” Tie Li whirled to face Tony, then pressed her nose against the window again. “Snow came! Tony, snow came!”
With a happy squeal the girl raced out into the hall, down the stairs, through the living room, opened the front door, and dashed out into the yard. Only then did she realize that in her rush she’d forgotten to dress for the occasion.
Tony was doubled over with laughter as his sister hurried back into the house and danced around on the living room rug, trying to get warm. The boy grabbed the blanket draped over a nearby chair and chased Tie Li around the room. “Come here,you silly kid,” he laughed, trying to catch the shivering girl. “Didn’t you know snow was cold?”
?Now you tell me!” she chided, rolling herself up in a ball inside the blanket.
Mr. and Mrs. Parks stumbled down the stairs to find out what the noise was all about.
“What happened to Tie Li?” Mother asked, entering the room.
“Oh, nothing,” Tony said between chuckles. “She just tried to walk barefoot in a snowbank.”
A voice spoke from inside the blanket. “Not very good idea. Snow cold!”
All day long large fluffy flakes drifted down around the house, dressing the car and tractor in white woolen coats, pulling soft, lacy sleeves over each branch and bush, filling the pastures with the plush folds of nature’s own winter comforter.
The radio reported that because of the snow, area schools would be closed all day long. Tie Li couldn’t take her face from the window. To her it was like discovering a whole new world.
By early afternoon the sun had broken through the clouds, illuminating the world with a brilliant light. Tony and Tie Li were ready.
At first with slow, timid steps, then with total abandonment, Tie Li plowed through the drifts, reveling in the mystical world that just a day before had not even existed.
Tony showed her how to make a snow angel, build a fortress, slide down the hill by the barn, and enjoy the cold, frosty taste of snow on the tongue.
They walked through the woods beyond the south pasture, stopping to watch squirrels jump from tree to tree, sending showers of snowy powder drifting through the branches.
“There’s Bentley’s Pond.” Tony pointed in the direction of a clearing by a stand of tall trees. The snow, driven by the wind, had drifted over parts of the frozen water. Where there was no snow, a clear sheet of ice glistened invitingly in the bright sunlight.
“Watch this,” Tony said, breaking into a run. At the edge of the pond he planted his feet, one in front of the other, and slid across the ice, arms outstretched for balance. Tie Li jumped up and down, clapping her mittens together in muffled glee.
“You try it, Tie Li,” Tony called from the far bank.
Tie Li ran stumbling to the edge of the ice and immediately fell flat on her well-padded seat; she slid about 20 feet before plowing into a drift.
“Hey, this fun!” she called excitedly. “Now I do better.”
Walking back off the pond, she gave herself plenty of running room. This time she managed to slide out to the very center of the ice. Standing up, she waved to Tony. “How I do?”
“I like to slide on ice. I go fast. Maybe God should have made Red Sea like Bentley’s Pond. Then everybody just slide across.”
Tony smiled. He enjoyed seeing his sister having a good time. It made him feel like he was taking proper care of her, like a big brother should.
The boy sat down on the snow-covered bank to watch Tie Li slide across the ice. Sometimes she even managed to stay on her feet.
Absentmindedly Tony shuffled his boots back and forth on the ice by the bank. He glanced over at the tracks he’d made earlier as he walked across the pond. His breath caught in his throat. Each footprint in the snow was filling with water.
“Tie Li—” His throat tightened, not allowing any sound to escape. He tried to stand on legs gone numb. “Tie Li!”
His sister had just completed a long slide and was standing to her feet far from the bank, at the very center of the pond. Brushing snow from her pants, she smiled and waved at Tony.
“Tie Li . . .” the words barely sounded in the cold air.
The pond was jolted by a deep cracking sound, like a large plank of wood breaking lengthwise. Tie Li stopped brushing and looked around. The ice pack was beginning to tilt ever so slightly. She glanced at her brother. One look confirmed that something was very wrong.
“Tie Li, don’t move!” Tony forced the words past his trembling lips.
A long, black crevice began to open along one bank. Smaller cracks spread outward toward the middle of the pond, like fingers reaching through the snow, growing, changing directions. Water sprayed up in fine mists here and there as the cracks enlarged, snapping apart with sharp, tearing sounds.
The ice under Tie Li’s feet shifted. She lost her balance and fell hard on the ice. Water was seeping into her gloves and boots. She could hear Tony screaming in the distance, “Don’t move! Tie Li. Please, whatever you do, don’t move!
1. Whom did the people blame for their dilemma at the Red Sea?
2. What should the people have done when they saw they were trapped by the mountains and the sea?
3. Simon said, “God knew something those people didn’t know. He knew His own power.” What did he mean?
4. What did Tony say human fear is?
5. When you are faced with situations that seem impossible, what should you do?