Thursday, July 13, 2017

An African Safari

Due to where the Akagera Game Park is located, and with all the traveling we did to see Joel's church plants, we actually did our safari middle of the trip instead of at the very end since we were on that side of the country and didn't want to have to make that trek across again.  After leaving one of the churches, while headed to the Park, we came across a horrible car accident.  Joel, John and Adam jumped out of the truck and van to see what they could do to help.  We ended up putting the unconscience man and three other bloodied men in the back of Joel's truck and flying down the road to the nearest medical facility.  This whole experience gave us a birds eye view of the unfortunate problems that exist in that country, the need for experienced medical staff.  Upon arriving to the facility, Adam was able to use some of his combat medical experience (from his Army days) and hopped out to talk with the hospital staff.  Adam informed them that the man appeared to have flown through his vans window and landed on the ground.  The man was unconscience and laid in a contorted side-ways heap in the back of Joel's truck bed.  When Adam asked them if they had a spine board or neck stabilizer, they said "no", if they had access to x-ray machines they said "no".  Literally all they had was an IV and some basic bandages.  Adam spoke to the Lab Tech who met them upon their arrival and spoke to him about the possibility of major internal bleeding or severe spinal injuries that the man may have and the Tech informed Adam that they would be calling an ambulance to transfer the patient as quickly as possible to a better facility in Kigali, the capital city which was about two hours away.  We have no idea what later happened to this man who we helped along the road that day, but we have a greater understanding of the countries need for experienced physicians and medical staff to come and invest in the people there.  They have medical facilities in each province (basically like our counties) but lack the people with experience and know how to treat the sick and injured people who enter through their doors.

This is a picture of the men loaded in the back of Joel's truck as we tried to weave our way around the accident.
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Our van driver graciously parked some distance from the hospital so that our kids would not be disturbed or panicked by the scene that was unfolding.
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Each morning we had tried to do devotions with the kids before starting our journey for the day.  This particular morning was pretty amazing because Carol had chosen to talk about the story of the Good Samaritan, and we as a group, got the opportunity to be the Good Samaritan to four men we did not know, who we came upon and saw in desperate distress.   It was not only a real life example for our kids to see but for us to live out as well.   And because of our eventful afternoon we were later then expected when arriving to the Game Park.   The gates to the Park close each night at six o'clock sharp and thanks be to God, we arrived with just twenty minutes to spare!  As we flew down the clay colored dirt road to the Game Park, this is what it looked like every which way you could see. There was so much dirt flying that we had to keep the windows shut and every thing along the road was covered in a blanket of dust.
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Once we came to a stop, this is what the trees along the road looked like.
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Upon our arrival, this is what we saw, beautiful rolling hills and shadows of hills for miles and miles.
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We saw fossils of animals that are found within the Game Park and Emerson wanted his picture with the largest crocodile bones they have yet to find.
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While baby girl was quick to find a flower to give me.
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It took us quite a while to get checked into the Game Park and then into the hotel.  I'll be honest with you, of all the travel and all the fatigue from the trip, this by far was the most stressful moments for me.  Picture this, all eighteen of us (Spensts, Sengoga's and Head's) converged at one time into the lobby of the Game Lodge and we were quite a scene no doubt.  We'd been telling the kids that we would swim in the pool once we got to the hotel but upon our check-in we were notified that the pool promptly closes at 7:00pm.  So literally John started opening their suitcases in the lobby, gathering swimsuits and hurrying to change their children while I stood there trying to determine if the 45 minutes we had to swim was really worth all the rush.  Of course my kids were begging to change and swim too, so I took our suitcases to the edge of the lobby and proceeded to find their swimsuits.  After changing all the kids in a matter of moments a stampede of children went running down the sidewalk toward the quiet pool area where vacationers were lounging.  It literally took only .5 seconds for our twelve children to completely clear out the pool of any other guests (insert monkey emoji with his eyes covered up!!)  I was stressed by the events of the day, mortified by the herd of children who swarmed the pool and on the brink of a melt down for sure.  The kids hopped into the pool and immediately started whining about how freezing cold the water was, to which I had no words of comfort except, "well, here's a warm towel."  This momma was toasty toast...pretty well spent by this 7:00 hour.  (I managed to snap very few pics!)
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We decided that we would all go back and change clothes then meet in the restaurant for a late dinner. This was by far the WORST meal we had on our entire trip simply because it was a five course meal, of which we had no reserve of energy for such a lengthy affair.  Our children were exhausted and were in no mood for the one shrimp a piece appetizer that was set before them; they were starving! We decided to go out onto the patio for a while to get the loud children out of the quiet dinning room, which unfortunately was our only option for dinner that evening.  Joel and Annie answered some of our questions about their country and culture then Joel shared some stories to help us pass the time while outside.  Finally our meal began to be served and literally it took two hours or so for us to complete said meal...it was difficult to say the least!
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We finally made it to the end of dinner and the dad's stayed for the check while the mom's took their four children a piece back to their rooms and set to tucking all the children comfy cozy into their beds with malaria nets securely stretched around them.   After which I took the opportunity to run hot water (that I'd not had since leaving the States) in the bathtub and soaked for a few moments before sinking into the bed for the night.

After a goodnights rest, we awoke early to this scene.  It was spectacular to take in for sure.
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We ate a quick breakfast before heading out for our early morning safari!  We loaded up and headed out.  Can you tell we were excited!?
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The first animals we saw were these beautiful zebras, and there were so many of them!
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Next we saw this water buffalo who didn't really want to be observed and promptly took off running into the bushes.
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As we drove around looking for animals, I was reminded that this is NOT Disney's Animal Kingdom where animals are placed in certain areas and you are assured to see them.  This was a real life safari and it required a little hunting to find the animals, but we did in fact find some and we were thrilled!
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We stopped for a little potty break and got to see a few hippos from afar.
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This was the best picture I could get of the hippo unfortunately its his rump!
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It was a thrill to get to go on this safari!  What a memorable experience to get to do it with my sweet family and dear friends!  This entire trip was thoroughly enjoyable, one I am so tremendously glad we were able to go on.  With memories to last a lifetime and experiences that I will hold dear for years to come, it certainly will be a treasure to look back on and smile!
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