Greetings to all!
What a crazy couple of days it has been, but it has been a blast! We have definitely all been able to see God working in each of our lives along the way!
On Saturday morning, our team started our journey to the Serengeti desert for our African safari! It was a long drive that was only supposed to take around five and a half hours, but it ended up taking close to eight. Along the way, we were able to take in the breathtaking view of the Great Rift Valley, which was amazing! We were all in complete awe! Also along the way, we had several van complications that caused us to have to pull over a couple times along the way. By the time we got to the lodge where we stayed, we were all exhausted but were eager to go check out the wildlife preserve where we were going for the safari. Since we got there later than we expected, we were only able to drive around for an hour before the park closed. It was absolutely amazing, but I’ll get into more details in a bit.
When we got back to the place we were staying, we ate dinner and then headed for bed. The place we stayed was very nice. Most of us stayed in cute cabins with three to four people, while others stayed with only one other person in safari tents.
The next morning on Sunday, we woke up bright and early to be able to go on safari. We were hoping to see some animals catching their morning breakfast on their hunt, but had no such luck. Throughout the day, though, we were able to take in some spectacular sights. We saw gazelles, wildebeests, buffalo, elephants, hippos, cheetahs, leopards, and even lions! We all felt like we were right in National Geographic or The Lion King. As we looked around, all of us were completely memorized by how gorgeous it was and what a completely miraculous God we serve who surrounds us with such beauty. It was awesome to say the least.
As amazing as the experience was, it didn’t come without a couple bumps along the way. While in the park, we came across a big dip in the road that was covered with water. There were elephants right on the other side, so we all wanted to get across to go see them. It was a nice idea in theory, but didn’t quite work out the way we intended. The first van went across and made it, but the rest of our vans got stuck. We ended up having to get out of our vans as our drivers hooked up chains to help pull each van out of the water and allow the next van to have the same fate. Thankfully, none of us got eaten by any lions while we were standing outside. It was actually a gorgeous backdrop to be standing in and be a part of. While the majority of our group was going through the fiasco of being stuck, one of the vans decided to go a longer route and go around. In the van were Lisa, Tim, Garett, Kaelan, and Patrick. We ended up getting separated from them for the whole day, because their driver got lost in the park. Our drivers kept trying to keep communicating with him and find out where he was, but there was no such luck in finding them. The drivers finally decided to take us back to our lodge right as the park closed and then go back in to try and find them. By this time it was getting dark and we were worried for our friends. We all banded together and prayed for our lost teammates. About an hour later, they were found and brought back. They had quite the stories to tell of their day lost on safari, and we were all thankful they were safe! In fact, they even got to see even cooler things than we did as they got face to face with giraffes and saw a lion family with baby lion cubs. The rest of us were definitely jealous of that!
On Monday morning, we went back into the park for two hours to try and catch a morning hunt, but we had no such luck. We headed back to our lodge to pack up our things. While doing that, we got to check out the cute little howler monkeys that lived in the trees outside our cabins. Many of us took pictures and videos. One of our teammates, Michael, was in the middle of taking a video on his iPhone when one of the monkeys started growling at him. He backed away from the monkey, but it ended up following him with every step he took. Eventually, he started to try and run away as the monkey came after him, causing him to fall, break his iPhone, and slam his shoulder against the ground. He now has a huge bruise on his arm all from an attack of a foot tall monkey! We couldn’t help but give him a hard time about it! The best part is that he got it all on video, since he was taking video at the time that it happened. It is hilarious to watch as we see him filming the cute monkeys, dashing off in a sprint through the trees like Blair Witch Project, and then falling to the ground. It is great, although I’m not sure if Michael would agree!
After we packed up, we were able to go check out the Masai Village. The Masai is a large African tribe that lives in Kenya. Many still hold true to their native traditions and clothing. We got to walk to the Masai Village with some of the members and learn some about their culture. They did a welcome dance for us in which they had a jumping contest for us to show how manly they were. In their culture, the higher you can jump means you are quite a catch as a man. You are greatly praised in the tribe and don’t have to pay as many cows as the rest of the guys in order to get a wife. Some of the guys from our team even joined in and showed off their jumping skills. All of us were extremely impressed with Patrick’s jumping abilities. If he were a Masai, he wouldn’t have had to pay any cows for a wife! Ha! After the contest, we headed over to where the men taught us how to start a fire from nothing but sticks and a sword. Ronnie and Garrett tried their hand at it, too, and were successful in getting it started. We then headed to check out the inside of the village. We got to see their huts, which the women make for their husbands out of manure. The huts are very small and dark inside with very little room to move around or even stand up. The Masai practice polygamy, so many men have multiple wives. Each wife has their own home and they rotate from house to house each night. They are also herders, so as we walked through the village, we had to try to avoid stepping in piles of manure all around. Their village is in a circle, because they bring their cows in each night and they house the animals in the middle at night to keep out predators. If one comes their way, they use spears and clubs to kill them, no matter how dangerous the animal. In fact, in order to even be considered a man in their community, you have to kill a lion. There were so many interesting discoveries we learned about the Masai people! It was a great experience, but afterwards, we were ready to get on the road and head back to Haruma! Unfortunately, we had two vans break down along the way resulting in us to, once again, arrive later than expected. We’ve learned that schedules go out the window in Kenya as we have experienced many unplanned events during our journey. When we got back, our power was out and it was pouring down rain. That made it difficult to plan for the start of VBS Tuesday morning. Instead, we put our bags in our rooms and went to bed, ready to wake up early in the morning to get everything in gear.
That brings us to today (a lot of info, I know!) Today was the start to our three day long Vacation Bible School we are putting on for the children. The high school students will be participating in a high school camp during the August team’s visit, so this was specifically designed for the younger kids. The title is “Branded” and it is based on the life of David. Today’s lesson was on David being chosen by God to be the new king, even though no one thought he looked the part. Our Bible verse for the week is 1 Samuel 16:7, which talks about how we judge people based on their appearance, but God looks at the heart. The kids sang songs, made crafts and snacks, played games, and heart the Bible story. It was a fun day and we’re excited to see how God blesses the lives of both the children and us through this experience!
We know God is going to do some amazing things through this trip and are already seeing Him working. However, we have also noticed the Devil fighting some spiritual warfare on us as well. We know He’s not happy with the work we are doing here. Many people are suffering with sickness, myself included, and are having a hard time participating and spending time with the kids, while feeling like junk. Please continue to pray for us each day! We can definitely feel your prayers!
Love and miss you all! 🙂