The two missionaries that were already here when we arrived had planned a safari to the Serengeti for an overnight stay in the park. It was four Americans and three Africans, Joseph (the Director), Mwita (the Headmaster), and John (the Academic Master). One thing I am learning quickly is that roads in Africa are much different than roads at home. Although the main roads are paved, all of the side roads are unpaved. Because of the intense rains Tanzania gets during the rainy season, the dirt roads are not easily maintained. Therefore, on the ride to the Serengeti, we were tossed about a lot. Imagine one of the Jurassic Park jeep rides in Disney World where dinosaurs pop out at you as you drive as fast as you can through the jungle. On this ride, there are harnesses that securely strap you into seats, and you know that as rough as the ride may be it will end in about five minutes. Well, take that amusement park ride without the dinosaurs, put it in Africa, take away the harnesses and then that would describe the ride we experienced on the way to the Serengeti, through the Serengeti, and on the way home!
Once we arrived in the Serengeti, we discovered that our booking company made a mistake booking our hostel and the only place to stay was at the campground. This would usually have been an enjoyable experience, but this time no one was prepared to camp. The booking company loaned us three, two-men tents, three small foam mattresses, one blanket, and one sheet. Remember there were seven of us! Let’s just say that we were quite uncomfortable and cold all night long. Looking back on it now it is quite funny, but during the moment I was definitely not the happiest camper. Picture this…three girls setting up a tent at dusk, putting on our as many clothes as we can to protect us from the malaria-biting mosquitos, getting in our tent then realizing we set it up on thorns that poked through the tarp, using our book bags as pillows, sharing one mattress to protect our backs from thorns, and then sleeping with British people singing American songs all night as hyenas howled all around us! What an experience!
The next morning, we woke up early to get a head start on seeing the animals. The day was a perfect day in the Serengeti! We saw a den of lionesses, totaling to about fifteen all in one area, three cheetahs, a crocodile, lots of hippos, water buffalo, giraffes, elephants, zebras, and wildebeest. On the way out of the park, however, our jeep broke down. Therefore, after every mile or two we would have to stop and pour water into the engine. We got out of the park around 2:30 p.m. and did not get home until 2:00 a.m.! Never again will I take for granted nicely paved or graveled roads.
Throughout the experience, God could not have been more present. To see the magnificent beauty He has created all around us was breath-taking. The uniqueness of every zebra, the gracefulness of giraffes, the massiveness of elephants; it was all simply amazing! Waking up after camping to watch a giant ball of fire perfectly placed in the sky to keep the Earth functioning rise above the savanna plains was inspiring and uplifting. God has created such a unique world. To look at His creation only furthers my faith. This world has beauty beyond mere human imagination; our world is divinely inspired! Praise God for all He has created and is creating!