Tuesday, September 23, 2014

I know that all of you have been waiting for pictures, and I finally have taken so many and have a little bit of time that I thought I'd bring at least the travelogue up to date.

Sister Reynolds has just celebrated her most celebrated birthday, and I don't know if Elder Reynolds will ever be able to top this one.

We were invited to join all the rest of the senior mission couples in Chipata, Zambia for a two-day leadership conference.  It was wonderful to see all of us together.  Many of the couples we met for the first time, since the mission covers both Zambia and Malawi, and our area assignments do not allow time to go visiting.  We were instructed by both President Erickson and Sister Erickson, and then we spent several hours in round-table discussions regarding how each of us was fulfilling our calling in our area of responsibility.  Then we compared notes on what we could take away from each other, as far as experience and goals.  It was a wonderful time.

We left Chipata and drove up to South Luangwa National Park to stay at Flatdogs Camp.  We were booked for only a single night, but we decided to extend, so we bought a package that allowed us to go on safari into the park, both on a night drive and on a morning drive.  The camp is really well done.  We stayed in a chalet, but some of our group stayed in tent enclosures, all facing the river, which was spectacular.  We could hear the hippos all night long, as well as the baboons and hyenas and elephants.

The first day we drove into the park in our own truck and just sort of explored on our own for about six houors.  We saw the lionesses with a freshly killed cape buffalo, lots of crocodiles, a herd of about 15 elephant, lots of zebras, 100+ buffalo in a herd, and more impala, waterbuck, kudu, baboons, and monkeys than we could count.

 A cape buffalo had gotten mired in a mudhole, and the crocodiles had managed to kill it.  The lionesses came down to the waterhole and took the buffalo away from the crocs.  After they had eaten their fill, the all moved back to sleep off the meal, and the crocs moved back in, the big ones first and then the smaller ones.  By the next day, their was no trace of the carcass, not even the skull and horns.

The next day we relaxed and enjoyed the animals which wander through camp.  We were told not to move around camp without a guard, which was good advice, since the animals pay little attention to the people.  They walked us out to our chalet, especially at night, since the hippos are dangerous in the dark.  We even saw fresh crocodile tracks about 10 meters from our front porch.  Here is a picture from the pathway leading to our chalet.  Guests had to leave their tables in the restaurant and take their meals inside because the elephants were cutting through between the pool and the courtyard.

That evening we joined a night drive, which lasts about 4 hours and were driven by our guide in an open safari car.  During the daylight hours we saw giraffes multiple times, many different kinds of antelope, and finally stopped for a snack.  After the sun set, his assistant manned the spotlight, and we saw our first leopard, which was really exciting.  We also saw a hyena, civet, gennet, and other small animals, which was lots of fun.

 The guide showed us the largest Boabab tree in that section of the park.  They estimate it is around 5000 years old.

We got back to the camp in time to have dinner, fall into bed, and then be up early the next day to do the morning drive.  We saw another leopard,
several hyenas, tons of different kinds of birds, including some Maribou storks which stand almost 5 feet high, and phalanxes of pelicans fishing in large groups by herding the fish into shallow water and dipping them up.

What a wondrous world we live in!  The Lord has given us so many beautiful things to see and enjoy.  We left the next morning and drove back in to Lilongwe, Malawi, then left early again and drove across to Lake Malawi in order to deliver a Bible I had promised to one of the gardeners while we were at District Girls' Camp the month before.  Lunch overlooking the lake was absolutely spectacular.  It was just clear enough to see the other side of the lake from our table.  We have been their three times, and this was the first time we could see all the way across the lake.

So here are the promised pictures.  Enjoy!

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