Tuesday, November 25, 2014

South Luangwa Adventures Sep 2014

We had a fun adventure in September 2014 when we met with all the senior couple missionaries in Chipata for a conference with our mission president, Leif Erickson and his wife, Linda.  After the meetings we all traveled into the South Luangwa Game Preserve to spend the night then spend a day driving on a game drive.  It was so fun to see all of the animals and to spend time with the other couples.

 We all stayed at the Flatdogs Camp and had our choice of a chalet, a deluxe tent, or a regular tent.  We thought the regular tent sounded fun.  We drove to our campsite and unloaded our luggage, then we had to take our vehicles back out to the parking area to keep from being trampled by the elephants.  All food of any kind had to be stored in a secure building because they elephants have a supreme sense of smell and will take anything down to get the goodies.  When it was time to go from the dining room to our tent, we had to be escorted by armed guards with flashlights.  Actually, their flashlights (aka torches) were pretty sorry.  They gave off little light and they really liked my mini maglight.  They were trying to barter me out of my "torch" but I wasn't going to let it go.  We were across the river from the reserve but that didn't stop the animals from visiting!

The tents had two zippers - one for the front door and one going out into the bathroom area.  It was kind of cool with the bamboo fence around the back of the tent and that is where our shower and bathroom was.  The weather is usually nice so open-air is great! 

 Stan shows off the shower.  Very rustic but nice.  We had twin beds with lamps and fresh water in our tent. 

The couples carpooled into the game park to save on fees and it is more fun to go together.  We were riding with President and Sister Erickson.  The guards told us there was a pride of lions who had made a kill and having a feast.  Of course, that is where we went first.  We found the lions and there definitely was a "pecking" order.  A Cape Buffalo was the unfortunate victim and the feast was on.  The lions ate and ate until they could hold no more.


As we stopped and watched the lions feeding on the buffalo, Sister Erickson and I opened our windows and sat on the window ledge to get better pictures.  We didn't even see the lions behind us.  Thankfully they were so full that we weren't even interesting to them.

The vultures just patiently waited for their turn for lunch.  The crocodiles were next in line and there were quite a few waiting but the biggest ones got the first bites, after the lions were full.

The crocodiles are so creepy and just made the hair on my arms stand up.  I wouldn't want to get anywhere close to those monsters.  When the big one got a piece of meat, he slid back into the water and immediately another one grabbed onto the meat.  They rolled and rolled in the water.  Crocs legs are short and they don't have hands to pull it apart so another one has to grab on and they have a tug of war to split the meat up to be able to get it small enough to eat.  It was a pretty exciting experience.  The rangers just let "nature take its course" and don't interfere with the animals and nature.
One of our favorites were the zebra.  They are so fascinating and no two are marked alike.  We loved watching these lovely animals.
The elephants are such amazing animals and we just loved watching them and spent quite a bit of time watching them.
The giraffe are such regal looking animals.  We read that they have high-blood pressure with such a long neck and the blood has to pump so far.  They didn't seem to mind us at all.

We caught this mother and her baby crossing the road and quickly got our cameras snapping. 
The storks are such huge birds and they are much like the vultures and feed on carrion.  They are fun to watch though.

We stopped with Reynolds to take a moment to watch the birds out on the lake.
These little beady eyes look like rocks in the lake but we just kept watching and then we could realize it was a group of hippos trying to keep cool and moist.  They stay immersed most of the time during the day when it is hot, then come out at night to feed on grass.

The hippos are such funny looking animals and they grunt and snort all night long.  They were even walking through our camp during the night and they just sound like big, fat, noisy pigs.  They were fun to watch but we stayed out of their way!

This one was keeping cool by wallowing in a mud hole.  We caught his picture as he came out of the mud bath.

Wart hogs are funny animals.  Actually, they are quite shy and to get a picture one has to be sneaky and quick. 
This little monkey was intimidated by the wart hogs one little bit.
This giraffe was huge but so regal looking.  We loved the giraffes and watching his spots and the varying colors of yellow and orange on his body.

This majestic bird is a fishing eagle and it was a big one.  He was just taking a break and it was a treat for us to watch him.

Doing what comes naturally -- I can reach those tall leaves in the top!

We loved the elephants but they can be so destructive.  This tree right in front of our tent had been knocked down and eaten by the elephants.  The elephants were all around our tent but they didn't bother us.
These two decided to make a run right through the parking lot.  A couple of our vehicles narrowly missed damage as those big guys didn't care what was in their way, they just went anyway!

The top looks better to me!  This old boy was really reaching for the top.
This mother monkey was carrying her baby on her back but then she stopped when she saw us.  The baby got scared and slid around to the front of his mother and just hugged her tight.  Made me think of a little child cuddling up to his mother for comfort.  Was pretty cute;.

We never tire of seeing the baobab trees.  They are huge and are hundreds of years old.  The story is that when they were thrown out of the heavens, they landed upside down, hence, the effect that it looks like a carrot upside down.  They trunk is more fibrous than like a regular tree trunk but they are quite a sight.  They are even more majestic when they have their leaves and blossoms on them.
We all stopped for a lunch break.  Everyone just contributed a few snacks and had a nice lunch to hold us until we got back to our camp in the evening.  We have such a fun group of senior couples and it is so much fun to share their friendship and camaraderie.

All too soon our adventure was at the end and we began our drive back to Lusaka.  We had traveled many miles this trip as we had gone to Malawi, then north to the northern province of Malawi to see Lake Malawi then back to Chipata and on to the game park.  While in northern Malawi, we visited two different groups who are meeting together and they want baptism so badly but they are so far from the centers of strength that they will have to wait more years for the church to come there.  Our hearts are saddened because they want baptism so much but we have to trust the wisdom of our church leaders. Weston (in the center with red shirt) found the church  online over ten years ago and knew he was far from the center of the church but he organized the group and they are teaching others.  They have quite a sizable group now and they are meeting but none have been baptized.  That is their greatest desire.  It was such a sweet experience to visit with their group.  In due time the church will come to them.The Lord has promised that we each will have the opportunity to hear and be taught in our own lands and our own language.  We have hopes the time will not be far off for this choice group.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Malawi in September 2014

During our trip in Malawi continued to travel North as we wanted to see Lake Malawi.  We crossed some steep mountains and the baboons were there to greet us.  We snapped this little guy as he was posing for us.  As we topped the mountain, they baboons were just running all over the mountainside and the roadways.  They obviously had been fed before as they were begging for handouts!
 As we topped the mountain, we could see blue through the trees.  Elder Bingham just had to stop and get out his binoculars to see if we were really seeing the Lake.  Seemed we had been driving for a long time so we were very excited to see "Blue Waters!"
 Just a shot of Sister Bingham as we drove up the mountain to get where we could get close to Lake Malawi.
 Elder Bingham couldn't resist throwing a piece of banana to this little baboon.  He didn't waste time with it and knew exactly what he wanted to do with it -- stuff it in his mouth!
 What a beautiful sight as we dropped out of the mountains and Lake Malawi was in view, as well as the native villages.
 Fishing is the main industry in this area.  Fishermen go out in their little dugout canoes to fish. When they bring in their catch, they spread them out on the drying racks in the sun.  Capenta (dried fish) is a real treat to all of the people in Zambia and Malawi.  They mix it with their relish of tomatoes, onions, greens, to be eaten with their nshima.  
 We drove down this little road by the lake and back behind these children is a port where big ships come in to bring fuel.  Quite a contrast where the big ships come in, yet right beside them are the fishermen in their dugout canoes.  We stopped to take some pictures of the drying capenta and the lake and these two children were coming from school.  They came right up to us so I asked if I could take their picture.  They shook their heads "yes" so I was happy to oblige.  After I took the picture, I showed them their picture and they just giggled and laughed.  They turned and ran away giggling all the way.  They were a real delight!
 Just a little pool off from the lake.  Such a peaceful scene.  It was difficult to get right up to the lake as homes were all along the shoreline.  These people make their living by the lake.
 Small little mud houses with thatched roofs dotted the shoreline.  Really gave us the feeling that we were visiting another time and place.  Things have been much the same for probably hundreds of years.
 As we left the Lake, we got into plantations of bluegum trees, rubber trees, and evergreen trees that they log out.  Piles of lumber dryng dot the roadside.
 In the upper left hand corner you can see a roughly made tent.  Workers make tents out of whatever they can get their hands on and they stay right on site of the piles of lumber to prevent theft. 
 We stopped in a grove of trees for a picture.  Was a very peaceful spot.  These are evergreen trees and the bed of needles on the ground was very thick.  If there was a fire, it would go up quickly.
 Tree plantation.  These tree plantations are not native to Malawi but the country gives living proof that if trees are planted and taken care of, they will thrive.  So much of the country has been razed of the trees as the people cut them down and make charcoal to burn for their cooking.
We were very impressed at the conservation of the companies who have the tree plantations.  When a field has been harvested, they then go in and replant so the forest will continue. 

Sunday, November 9, 2014

September 2014 Experiences

We took a trip north in Malawi to visit an NGO training center operated by NuSkin from Utah.  These girls were pumping water for household use from the pump installed.
The training school is in Kusungu, Malawi.  The area tribal leaders choose families to participate in the project.  The family moves to the farm/training center for ten months of intensive teaching and training.  Below a participant of the program shows his garden of produce behind his house.  They are small plots but they plant three plots one month apart and after harvesting, they have to plant something else in that plot.  These small plots provide enough even for a small family to have some left over from their use to sell. 

The above is the goat pen.  They lock the goats up at night and the manure drops below.  The manure from the goats and chickens give them the fertilizer for their gardens and fields.
Elder Bingham stops to see what these kids are doing.  The little girl on the right has her baby brother on her back in a chitenge.  Good way to haul a baby around.
We just had to have this picture of the cattle inside their corral.  They don't spend money on expensive fencing but use what they have.
This is their chicken coop.  They also teach fish farmng, maize production, soya beans, etc.  They also teach them how to mill the grains and help the farmers get a start.  They hold classes to teach nutrition, sanitation, cooking healthy meals, and many other things.  They require the men and women to sit together as couples as they attend classes.  This is something the couples don't do here in Africa is to sit with their spouse.  Childcare is provided.  They even have constructed large ovens to teach the women how to make and bake bread and then they sell it to the villagers.  After ten months, they go back to their village and they can keep the produce they grew while in the program to help them begin farming.  A representative from the school will come to the village to visit to make sure the farmers are implementing the information and skills they learned.  This is really making a difference in some families lives.

We passed by these adorable little toddlers and couldn't help but grinning at them.  However, I did notice very runny noses on all three.  I commented later to Stanley about the progressive things we learned but then came upon these little boys with runny noses.  Stanley told me that their families had just come into the training center and hadn't yet been in the classes.  There was a full time hygeinist
to teach proper nutrition and how to prevent diseases and to live cleaner lives.  These classes are so needed in Africa, especially in the villages.

We visited a group who has about thirty attending church there.  Weston (center in red shirt) found the church online about ten years ago and wanted to know more.  He gained a testimony and wants to be baptized as does most of his group.  This group is so far from the center of strength for the church that we can't send missionaries there yet.  These are educated people and their group continues to grow.  They are patiently awaiting the day when missionaries can come and they can be joined to the Saints through the waters of Baptism.  They are such an uplift.  Weston had a small house but the group quickly outgrew his house.  He bought a bigger house to accommodate the group.  There is another group about fifteen miles from here and another group in Msungu, several hours away.  We are praying for the ay these good people can be baptized.

This just shows the rape of the land.  Too many trees have been cut to make charcoal out of and trees weren't replanted.  Some areas aren't this bad but the bigger part of Zambia and Malawi that we have seen have had their trees cut down to be burned in the charcoal cookers.

A few trees are left here but the older trees are very sparse.  We stopped in an area where trees were being logged out.  In the northern part of Malawi, there are plantations of rubber trees and conifer trees.  Where the trees were harvested, thousands have been replanted.  These trees are being managed but these trees are not indigenous to the country.  However, they show that they can be successfully grown and harvested here.

 We stopped for a rest break and while we were stretching our legs, we saw these three women coming.  It was unbelievable the loads they had on their heads.  They would walk for quite a ways then drop the logs to catch their breath, then pick them up again and hoist them onto their heads make their way to their village.  These women didn't dawdle along the way either.  They were moving.  I had to hurry to keep up with them to get their pictures.

 Jotham, on the right, is the leader of a group in Msungu who also want missionaries and to be baptized but they are many hours from the nearest center of the church.  We pray that someday they will get their wish.

Stanley in front of a stand of a tree plantation in northern Malawi.