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Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas with the Missionaries in Zambia

Senior Sister's made the treats!

       I wish I could give an accurate picture of Christmas in Zambia.  I have visited several homes and asked people about their traditions here.  Most have told me they have a special dinner where they invite family or friends.  Many who can afford it, set off fireworks on Christmas Eve and in the evening on Christmas Day.  There are few if any decorations in the homes.  Few if any presents and Santa doesn't come here....maybe because it's too warm!   Many people do have the love of Christ in their hearts though, and they are kind and good.  We celebrated with our blending of American and many African countries customs with the missionaries on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

Elder Cook is an excellent piano player, he accompanied the Missionary Choir in our "Musical Celebration of Christmas"  Program, a few days before Christmas.   There were many piano students who played and some other good musicians who sang and acted out the Nativity.  Many loved the program and said they had not had anything like that for years and years.

The Missionaries practice for the program.  They sang a medley of "O Holy Night" and "Silent Night."

Sister Makau practices for her piano solo.
Christmas Eve, President Padovich has just carved the turkey and announces it is time to eat!

No No......Elder Okumu!  Not yet!

The Christmas Eve buffet....turkey, dressing, rolls....the works!

White Elephant gift exchange, Elder Katomb makes his choice....but will he be able to keep it?
So much food, so little time!
Sister and President Padovich with Elder Fly enjoying Christmas day in more relaxed attire.

After the gift exchange, there is still a little exchanging goin on!
Our only mission game "The Great Dalmoody" gives some fun between activities.
Christmas Day!  More food and more singing carols, more sharing of fun and love....and then a chance for everyone to call or skype, and talk to their loved ones at home.  What a wonderful day!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Road to Luanshya

We stayed at Lowden Lodge again last weekend.  I had forgotten how peaceful it is out in the country with the beautiful flowers and trees around.  Lowden Lodge is located off the road to Luanshya which is not a very busy road so things are pretty quiet there.  At the Lodge there is a framed history of the road to Luanshya.  This incident happened in the 1920's when motor vehicles were new and there were lots more wild animals roaming the area.   

An Englishman was driving to Luanshya and going quite fast in his new automobile when he hit a leopard!  He stopped and noticed the leopard wasn't moving and wondered if it were dead.   Finally he decided to go out and check and sure enough....the body was still.  He started to think how nice the leopard pelt would look in his den.  So little by little, he managed to drag and pull and push the large animal into the back seat of his auto.  Finally, with his prize pelt on the backseat and floor, he took off again for Luanshya thinking of how proud he was of his trophy.  He glanced back for a look at the pelt and noticed it was sitting up on the seat!  It looked a little dazed but was a live leopard after all!  He immediately stopped the car and got out.  Fortunately the leopard soon remembered an appointment he had and sauntered off into the trees.   

Now there are only a few guinea hens left of the wild animals in the area and those even appeared to be quite domesticated.  I didn't realize guinea hens made such a noise but they are sort of like peacocks....they can disrupt the peace a little.  Still they are my favorite bird here.

First a video to show the rain....lots of impressive to us.  We are used to the desert and 9 inches of rain a we get about 57 inches of rain, all during the 4 months of the rainy season!  I expected cloudy days all during the rainy season but there are rains, beautiful clouds, and sunshine!  Big rains bring beautiful flowers.  See the weather and the flowers of December!
A more exotic version of the Hibiscus.
Janet, the owner of Lowden Lodge, says they call these the Candlestick Flower.

Cosmos and other flowers in the bed.

Mums, of course, are part of the display.

Two really well fed guinea hens....with good vocal cords!  They sound a little like a rusty gate or plumbing gone wrong....but they are so cute!

Hydrangea...reminded me of Bev and Paul's wedding reception in Portland, Oregon.

These looked like Indian Paintbrush Flowers to me.

A flower from the Plumeria tree.

These flowers grow on the edge of the pond...just gorgeous!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Pilanesberg National Park, South Africa

In connection with some training in South Africa, we were able to visit Pilanesburg National Park.  We thought we had already seen enough African animals to satisfy, but this experience was incredible!
Right at the beginning of our first trip a leopard was spotted!  Bruce got a shot with our new camera just before it wandered too far away!  Shortly after that we realized our new camera's battery had not been sufficiently charged so we had to make do with our regular Kodak with nothing in the way of a telephoto lens. 

No telephoto lens needed for this elephant who crossed the road right in front of the jeep.  I thought he was smiling, Bruce said he was probably thinking about picking up his paycheck on the other side.

Zebra's were everywhere in large herds.

I can't remember the name of the animal on top of the rock.  You can just make out the rectangular shape on top. 

If you look closely, you can see the Servil between the bushes.  Our guide said it was very unusual to see one as they blend so well with the surroundings.  It was a little easier to see in real life as it was moving.

Beautiful sunset over the savannah....kind of reminded me of home.

We kept spotting things even after dark.  This chameleon was just a light spot in the tree....he was one of our guides favorite things to see and show.
Morning again!  Balloon riding over the park.

After all the big and exciting animals, my favorites are still the guinea hens!

Lots of blue wildebeest around.

Why did the warthog cross the road?  Were there really paychecks on the other side?

Tortoise in the road had to be rescued...guess they like the warmth of the pavement.

Our first good sighting of a Rhino family.

Loved the giraffe!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Munda Wanga

This is the beginning of a tour of Munda Wanga Botanical gardens.  One of the best kept secrets in Zambia.  There weren't many people there on this Thursday afternoon, the park was quiet and peaceful with one beautiful view after another.
Munda Wanga has botanical gardens as well as an animal park.   We just had a few hours to give a tour to Alice MacKay who was visiting from London.  We had all seen animals recently so we went to the botanical garden section.  It was wonderful!  The bird fountain is a Water Eagle.  The national bird of Zambia.

It was one of the first rainy days of the beginning of the rainy season, just a drizzle off and on.   Alice and I shared an umbrella.  Alice was part of a medical team who came from London to do back surgeries here as a humanitarian effort.  They were able to help many people who otherwise would have to live with deformities.    Alice was the only member of the Church on the team.  When the Doctor's went to do the tourist thing, Alice opted to visit the mission and spent one day doing missionary work with the sisters and one day with us.  We really enjoyed getting to know her.

A beautiful pool in the gardens.

These hedges made up a little maze.  I guess like an English garden.  Notice the hose.  They have had to water lately since we are just ending the dry season and it has also been hot this month.

This was the succulent section of the garden.
The grayish green leaves on the bushes next to the path were very soft.  They reminded me of Rabbit's Ear plants at home.

Inviting paths and bridges everywhere!

Bridge over a stream filled with water lilies....gorgeous!

Elder Louthan in front of a stand of bamboo.  Everything looks pretty green even at the end of the dry season.

I don't know the names of these trees.  I will have to get a book for identification.  There are so many flowering trees all over town  and I would love to know their beautiful!

Bird nests in the palm tree.  See the little yellow bird at the bottom of one of the nests.  He is hanging upside down.  They go into their nests from the bottom.....amazing!

Alice showing how big this tree is.....the roots went way out and the limbs on top were massive.  We just saw a small section of the park...we will definitely go back!