· To be standing up in the back of Andrew’s land rover bouncing through the Masai Mara. That feeling of vastness and expanse. That feeling of wind rushing. Seeing herds of wildebeests or gazelles or antelopes or zebras. Every now and then seeing giraffes and elephants. Watching out for warthogs and ostriches. Even finding cheetahs and lions.
To see lions drinking from a stream. To hear Sam shouting out a sighting of long lines of wildebeests migrating. To Rande cry out “Cobra” and actually seeing the darn thing. To hear the clicking of three cameras at once. To watch Brogan trying to draw while the rover is hitting rut after rut after rut. To hear the laughter. “Did you see that?” “Look over there?” “Did you see…?”
· To have a game of pick-up basketball on the playground of the Catholic School in Mukuru. 4 on 4. Kids and grown-ups. Bad shots. Good shots. Bad passes. Good shots. The handshakes at the end? Priceless.
· To wait and listen for baby elephants coming home for supper after a long day playing in the brush. All 3 years old or younger. 24 of them. And almost like clockwork, here they come, meadandering down the path right toward us. Just like typical, neighborhood kids making their way home.
Each had a room of her/his own and each just walked on in for supper. I stood outside each room just watching them. My prayers of blessing were for strength and courage and for each of these one-time orphans, a long and healthy life.
· To watch the boys during this trip. They have been incredible. They’ve been kind and respectful. They been patient beyond words. They haven’t quit ~ even after that awful-long flight late at night from Atlanta to Dubai. They were helpful and engaging. They’d sleep sitting up at a table. And they stayed interested and energized.
Their laughter fills my to overflowing. The memory of their sleeping on top of each other in the back of the rover as we bounced along just makes me want to weep.
What a gaggle we 7 were. Moving from one place to the next. Watching out for one another. Laughing, laughing, laughing. Leaning into one another. Precious time. Fullness of time. Holy time.
· To share this trip with Gamma. She was truly incredible. Every step she took with us. Stride for stride.
It was courage and grit and faith and much, much love that brought her along the way. It was apparent that her love for her family gave her whatever it took to risk all that it might cost. We had no idea what we were getting into, what the conditions would be like when we drove to the Atlanta airport. What we knew was that we would do it together. Three generations.
Gamma’s presence brought with it a fullness of spirit. Our steps were better, broader somehow (and I don’t mean this to sound corny or hokey).
It would not have been the same trip at all if she had chosen not to come. Playing cards and being in awe of Gamma’s playing. All those groups of Aces and Queens and tens…(how DOES she do it?).
Watching the boys pick up her bag, opening doors. Listening to share the stories. “Did you get a picture of that?” “Look, Sam, get a picture of this one.” YES!
· To walk along the moving sidewalk in Dubai under the palm trees (especially during a hot flash. Ahhhh…) Never experienced such a lovely, perfect breeze.
· To hear John and Rande’s laughter. The have the best laughs. And they are funny, funny. Especially during cards, they would carry on – mostly telling stories of playing in NC and how our game differed from theirs J (that’s the nicest way I know of saying that.)
I want to long remember:
· Sam’s picture-taking. Seeing Africa through his eyes…a gift….the flowers and the birds and the trees and cats in Nairobi and all along the way on the safari.
· Brogan’s courageous stomach. This boy ate his way through Africa. Sushi for breakfast most every morning, lamb, duck, more peppers than I’ve eaten in my entire life. “Never had that, I’ll try it,” you gotta love a guy who can say that.
· Linda’s amazing passion for poop. “Of course, it tells you who it is and how long ago they were here.” Of course it does.
· Gamma’s open heart ~ her desire to remember everything.
· Rande’s clicking camera. What a gift. Thank you for bringing so many moments of Africa back home with us.
· John’s love of Kenya and her people. His commitment to having us share first hand in why he goes and what’s happening there with him and because of him. His wanting to have us go-along-with-him on his next trips.
· The sunrises and sets on the Mara
· The vastness and the feeling of being on top of the rover riding all the way around and through it
· The song of the hippo (and having them for next door neighbors for two nights)
· The lavender thread from the palm tree on the patio and that orange-crested bird that listened out for us (E♭ F, E♭ G, E♭ C, C)
Memories for a lifetime. What a gift. Asante sana.
(thanks so much to Rande and John and Sam for our pictures)
Working in Family Experience at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, Lesley is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ. A Candler School of Theology graduate, Lesley has just published her second book, Grief and the Psalms: Companioning the Moon for 29 Days (available on this website). She and her partner, Linda Ellis are raising their two sons, Brogan and Sam in Decatur, GA.