The Malawi Preteens time in Malawi is coming to an end. It is hard to believe that our time here is almost over. The last three days have been very different. On Friday, we went to Senga Bay where we did our souvenir shopping. Many of our kids were quite good at bartering and got some good deals. Most of the kids bought African drums. We had to stop them from playing them when we rode back to the base, but we promised them a drum concert that night if no one succumbed to the temptation! Some of the leaders were hoping that they would forget, but no such luck! Semaj remembered and asked when we were going to do it, so for 15-20 minutes the drums were active. Some were good at drumming and others not so much. After the first few minutes of just drums, they decided to sing and drum to the song. One of my favorites was Annabelle Lane who was sitting so prim and proper, like the southern girl that she is, beating on a drum. Since we were celebrating Christmas in July, they started with a Christmas carol. After the first few songs, Spicer Wadman began walking around in the center of the drum circle like he was leading the singing. We tried taking pictures, but unfortunately it was dark so the pictures are pretty grainy.
The next two days were spent going to and from Liwonde National Park for our safari. We left fairly early on Saturday and headed south. We even got to see the President of Malawi, or at least his escort and all the vehicles that travelled with him, at one point. Fortunately, we did not have to stop for very long and could continue our journey. Once we arrived at Bushman Baobab’s, our safari camp, we ate the lunch we brought with us. Then it was on to the park. We headed to the southern end of the park toward the Shire River so that we could be heading back to our lodging when more animals would be moving. Each of the kids had their favorite animals— we saw antelope of different kinds, a small herd of elephants, warthogs, monkeys, baboons, a few crocodiles and water buffalo in the distance and hippopotamus —mostly their heads poking out in the river, but a few were out on the bank. It’s amazing how fast those large animals can move when they want to. Then it was back to Bushman Baobab’s for dinner. They served us a nice dinner, after which we had our evening devotions led by Miss Kristen. The kids were happy to sleep on the beds in the dorm rooms at the camp and get showers after many days of sleeping in a tent on the ground and taking bucket baths! The next morning, after eating the breakfast prepared for us, we got back in the truck and headed back to the Malawi base, our home away from home.
Most of the team did their verse review (all 19 verses) in the truck on the way back. After a quick lunch, the rest worked on their verse review. We are happy to announce that all of our team members have learned their verses. Some of them need to work on them some more, but they’ve managed to get them learned enough to say at least once! King James can be quite challenging to them, so we try to make sure that they understand the meaning of the verse, also. Then it was on to practicing for our video presentation that we will do at Debrief. And of course, we went to the Melissa Foster Rescue Unit to play with the kids. After our evening vespers, everyone was glad to go to bed.
Today (Monday) is our last work day. We are planting trees at the nearby Rescue Unit—we hope to get at least 30 trees in. The number will be dependent on how many holes can be dug. The ground is quite hard in the dry season, so it is quite a bit of work to get the holes dug in order to plant the mango trees. Tonight is our field banquet—the kids don’t know it, but they are having cheeseburgers—maybe not up to McDonald’s standards, but close enough! Today is also the last laundry day, so all of the team will be washing their travel clothes (which we wore on safari) and other items, so they will be dry when we begin packing out on Tuesday. Duffels will need to be packed and tents taken down so we can move from “Cambodia” where we have been staying to the main base. We would appreciate your prayers as we help the kids with their packing and the decisions of what to leave here and what to put in their carryon bags. We also covet your prayers for all our travel as we begin our journey back to the States after a breakfast of cinnamon rolls, hard-boiled eggs and cold juice.