Thursday, July 2, 2009

God's Animals

We were blessed with a trip to see animals on July 1, 2009, in the Serengeti National Park.  For eleven years, in southern California in the 1970's and '80's, I took my class to the L.A. zoo.  I knew just what to do.  I would tell the kids to hurry when we entered the zoo and follow the signs to Africa.  If we did not rush, we would not make it to the African animals.  We did the best fast-walk-without-running to the last and best exhibit of animals...AFRICA!

Now that I live in Tanzania, I love the African animals because it seems as if everything is the same as they have been from the beginning of time.  When the environment is the same and the animals are free and doing the same things as they have done for thousands of years, one feels as if one is experiencing something wonderful on this planet.

It was unusual this trip in the Serengeti in that the animals were all so close to the roads.  A group of giraffes came up to the car and then crossed in front of the car.  They were my favorite in the zoo. Now I just don't have favorites.  It is the whole that is my favorite.

At one point my view was just spellbound. No need for binoculars. It was right in front of my eyes.  It was as if all the animals got the memo to meet at this one old tree and act naturally.  In the huge old tree, cleaning himself like a little house cat, was a leopard.  Around the base of the tree were families of elephants of all different ages eating grass and scratching their backs on that old tree.  Baby elephants were gently patting their moms with their trunks as if to ask if it were time to nurse now.  Old female elephants were helping direct the babies.  All of this was right next to us, just a few meters away.  In the near background, behind the tree, were zebras showing their blur of stripes for interest all across the close horizon.  Just had to soak this up, and feel I experienced the whole of the marvels here. 

The drama occurred at the hippo pool at noon.  When we arrived we saw a herd of

zebras mulling around. Some were lined up.  Some were eating the sparse grass.  Some were just skittishing around.  Some were just resting their heads on the backs of others.  I said to myself how unique it is that their fingerprint is all over their body.

A select group of twenty zebras were standing at the edge of a small  hippo pool.  One caller zebra was watching the hippos that were around the corner of the "L" shaped pond sound asleep.  He would call out very loudly somewhat like a mad horse.  At that time the chosen twenty zebra's ran splashing in and as they drank, they kept running in place to stir up the water.  This sounded like our old generator. I kept looking around for what was making that noise.  The drinking continued for almost three minutes until the caller zebra sounded again at which time all twenty turned around and ran up the slow slanting beach for safety.  Not long out of the water, the caller sounded again and all the choice zebras went back in.  This happened many times until a few just stopped believing that worry-wart of a caller and kept drinking. 

This was repeated so many times that it made me want to stay right there watching this all day.  This excitement was happening in the middle of the Serengeti not far from the Visitors Center.  I so wanted to see if some of the other zebras got a chance to play this game.  I so wanted to see if the sleepy hippos got tired of all the water churning and just ate one.  But we live in Bunda and all our money goes to our running our mission.  We can have a safari once every four years. We only take a day for the safari. We drive twenty minutes to the Ndabaka Gate on the west side of the Serengeti, look at the animals, and drive back out before six o'clock at night. This time we took our son Keith from the U.S. and our son John who works here with our mission. 

What a joy it was to observe all these things together in just one day.   Many of the animals were right on the road.  We saw the end of the wildebeest migration, thousands of zebras, five families of wart hogs. six herds of elephants, thirty giraffes, many Tompson Gazelles, Topi, Impalas and much, much more. I especially liked the old elephants with all their wrinkles showing the many experiences they have had.  Do you think God showed me that with an understanding that I can might better accept the aging of my own skin? 

How blessed we have been to experience this holy place. How sad we will be if we ever lose it because of not taking care of our planet. 

Hakuna Matatizo!  Hakuna Vita!  Hakuna Haraka!

(no worries, no war, and no hurry)

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