Watching the world go by
Baboon in a very relaxed posture...
As you will have gathered from Elle's blog, we are indeed back in Sydney. In fact, in the 2 weeks we have been back we have volunteered in our church's annual conference, and I have been to Dubbo for work and back. It just keeps getting more exciting eh?
But South Africa... the final stop on our whirlwind trip. It was deja-vu as we exited into Jo'burg for the second time in a week. Another friendly face to meet us, this time a little more familiar. It was Albertus, who organised the Hillsong United tour of South Africa last year. During a casual chat on the tour, he mentioned that he used to organise safaris, and that if I was ever planning to do a safari, I should do one in South Africa and call on him! Well, I took him at his word, and he was true to his. So the credit for pulling our next few days together goes to the big guy with the thick Afrikaans accent!
I wasn't quite sure what the Kruger was going to be like. I had envisaged massive rolling plains, much like those in The Lion King (many references to
After some editing...
this in word and song during our Kruger stay), which would require something big with power going through all 4 wheels to get us around. I was a little bemused when we hopped into his BMW sedan, but when he told us it was paved roads all the way to and through the Kruger, I was very content with the thought of seeing wild animals from an air-conditioned, leather-convered luxury cabin. All we needed was some biltong... bring on South Africa!
We talked about this and that on the way there, and the hours seemed to go by in minutes. What quickly became a theme of conversation, and remained so for the rest of our time in SA, was the work God was doing in this country - stirring hearts of young people, motivating Christian businessmen to do unheard of things with their skills and finances (eg starting mines where all profits would actually go back into the community!). Albertus is absolutely jam-packed full of vision for SA and the African continent, and much of the time we were sitting back hearing him speak, and getting stirred and challenged in our spirits. He especially had a lot to say
Another of the Big 5...
about how impacting the United tour last year was. Our eyes were opened (again!) to the hand of God on our church, and what he might do through it in Africa (from Cape Town!) But greater than that, we were seeing the body of Christ at work all over the world, again!
Owing to our plane being rescheduled from Maputo to Jo'burg, we had a few hours less up our sleeves to get to the Kruger. We didn't think much of it, until Albertus started gunning it down 60km/h streets at speeds of up to 170km/h (yes, really!) to make it to our gate by 5:30pm! The ride remained comfortable, thanks to German engineering and a pair of steady hands, and we literally made it there by about 5:31... with a little sweet talk the guards opened the already closed gates and we were in!
We were there for three days, and stayed in 3 different campsites around the Kruger. Not that we were camping, though. We were staying in bungalows, and to have a reliable, steady stream of hot water was a luxury after a week in Mozambique!
Well, we had a fantastic time at the
Kruger. Being winter school holidays, it was relatively busy with locals, but weather wise it was perfect. Cold at night, but lovely during the days. The landscape at this time of year was pretty dry and rugged, which makes animal sighting somewhat easier. That said, it didn't help me much. Of the three of us, I was by far the worst animal sighter. Albertus pretty much has the eyes of a hawk, and we'd be driving along, then all of a sudden slow down. Albertus would be looking off into the distance, silent, squinting, and say something like "kudu" (a very South African antelope). I'd pause, squint, and squint some more, and see nothing. Good thing we bought a pair of binoculars at the gift shop! With them, and with some help from the other two, yes, I could see the kudu too... Ellie has good eyes, and also what we call an "animal anointing". She sat at the back of the car and asked God to guide certain animals our way, and very often he did...
You'll be glad to know not all of our sightings were of blobs several kilometres away. We saw 4 out of the
A stunning view
Can't remember what it's called...
"Big Five" (no leopards to be seen!), lots of elephants, giraffes, zebra, hippos, monkeys, antelope, and some very cool birds. One of our best sightings was of an elephant, which was walking beside us as we drove along... we literally could have reached out and touched it, if wisdom didn't restrain us. It was the only time Albertus looked slightly nervous, as he made sure there was a reasonable distance between his nice car and the big tusker!
On our way back from the Kruger, we stopped by some stunning scenery in the Drakensberg ranges - truly breathtaking, and almost a completely different world from the dry ruggedness of the Kruger. It was a spectacular drive through the mountains before stopping at a small town for an Albertus ritual - pancakes at a place called Harry's. A friend commented that there was no mention of food in the Mozambique blog, so here you go Pete! These pancakes were the best I have ever had. There's simply no comparison. Sydney's Pancakes on the Rocks - well, we knew they were ordinary before we had these, but now especially so. Wow... I'm getting hungry thinking about it. If you ever go
A bit like the Lion King...
On the way back from Kruger
to SA, make sure you find yourself at a Harry's somewhere.
That night we hung out with Albertus' friends from his "Jire" ministry, which does a whole lot of different things, but basically exists to unify the church in SA and make Jesus known! It was another good meal, and I indulged in a SA specialty called potjie - which they insist is pronounced "poiky" or something like that. Now you know...
The next morning we had a quick tour of Pretoria, a final lunch with A and friends, and then were off to the airport. As we talked with our friends, we realised how much need there is in SA itself - the great divide that still exists between the rich and poor (the overwhelming majority), the hopeless public health care system, the crime... it is truly "developed" conditions for a few compared to very much "developing" conditions for the rest... but an incredible opportunity for the church to rise up and be the difference!
As you'd imagine, it was an odd feeling getting to the airport, and boarding what would be the last of 23 flights. We were so full after Africa, with all God
The end of the road
Just before our historic last flight!
had impressed on our hearts. But we missed home - our family, friends, and our church, and couldn't wait to get back there.
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