Every mission trip to Care Village has included a trip to see the country. Gerrie insists upon showing his gratitude for our work with the children by showing us another piece of his beautiful country. Not only does it give us an opportunity to recharge and gear up for our next round of four full days with the children (national Women’s Day today in South Africa, school holiday tomorrow and the weekend), but it gives us an opportunity to bond as a team and get up to speed with all that has transpired with Gerrie, Maud(Gerrie’s amazing wife), and Ernie since we last visited in March.
We spent two days at the Kruger National Park, the biggest game reserve in South Africa and a day at an animal rehabilitation center, where animals are rescued or cared for who cannot survive in the wild, either temporarily or permanently. The time at Kruger was extraordinary. Our first day included witnessing a lion kill of a zebra. We were fortunate to witness the entire event, from the stalking of the prey to the killing to the ravaging of the carcass by the pride. While it may sound a bit morbid, it was a fascinating witness to the cycle of life and a most rare opportunity. We spoke to several lifelong South Africans, including some of the park rangers at Kruger and none of them had witnessed such an event in the wild. I continually marvel how well connected is Gerrie as God allowed us to witness something reserved for very few. We saw four of the South African “big five” (elephant, lion, leopard, rhinoceros, and water buffalo) in the wild, missing only the rhino.
The animal rehab center was also an amazing experience. We traveled the center in open vehicles where the cheetah, leopard, lion, wild dog, and rhinoceros, among others are held, housed, fed, rehabilitated and eventually returned to the wild, in most cases. Those who are unable to be returned to their natural habitats are humanely lodged indefinitely. We learned a great deal about the animals and observed them in a very natural setting. The center is the largest of its kind in South Africa and holds many distinctions for its work in rescuing animals in distress and returning them to their natural surroundings.
As i sit in the bus on the road back to Care Village, I am thankful for the opportunity to return to South Africa for the third time, renew friendships, establish new, and spend time with the children. We have spent “down time” making plans for these next four full days at Care Village and have more planned than there are hours in the days. No worries as we cherish every minute we get to spend in this amazing country with these amazing people.