Well.....after two weeks of planning to plan and anticipating.... We are here!!! Norway! The flight was amazing! We each got our own row and there were awesome TVs with tons of movies. So true to form I slept two hours and mostly binged on free movies! I kind of love the captive airplane time. Can't go anywhere... Just have to chill. So we landed in Oslo. Flying over green hills and changing fall colors and we went directly to catch our flight to Bergen. And now we're here!!! We took a 10 minute taxi ride ( worth $64- this place is crazy expensive! ) to our Airbnb place. Stashed our gear and headed out for some dinner and groceries. I love going to the grocery store in other countries! True to European style. It smelled like a yummy bakery and had tons of great chocolate :) It rained pretty hard as we walked home and we were walking up hill so we arrived wet and sweaty. I was for sure having mission flash backs. So a little about the group. I'm here with bestie Christi Costello and Kelly McBride... The Irish Canadian. Its a great group! So anyway, we are here and looking forward to a great adventure tomorrow exploring the fjords!
Friday, May 23, 2014
MooI'm almost always a person who likes going new places over familiar ones....but when it comes to London I always want to come back. We've spent the last 2 days in my favorite city!
It was of course a whirlwind.... But one of my favorite things to do there is wander anyway... So I was very happy. Plus I got to see some of my favorite people! Charlie and her husband James came to down and I saw Lauren and Loren and Charlie met up with us for dinner.... So many of my favorite things! Charlie has never done anything in London so we walked around and saw some of the classic sites and I think my favorite part of the day was that night when we all met up for dinner in a pub on the south bank. It was just so fun to sit and catch up with old friends. Since I've never spent a summer there I forgot that London is pretty far north so we left the pub at about 9pm and it was still twilight. It was totally magical to walk along the south bank at that time of day.
Then today Veda and I did our own girlie shopping on oxford street day. Which means we spent several hours in primark... Haha. We had a blast. We also got to go see Selfridge's. Actually yesterday as we were walking through leister square we saw the redhead man who plays in the show Mr Selfridge's.... Lauren is the best at celebrity spotting! We bounced around the city to a couple other city highlights before heading back to the airport for our flight to Iceland. Mostly it was just really fun to spend so much time with Veda. We had a great day!! Can't wait to come back here!!
Wednesday, May 21, 2014
Today we went to Victoria falls which as I understand it is the largest volume waterfall in the world. It was totally awe inspiring. Made me feel "how great Thou art". The crazy thing is that the waterfall is on one side of q narrow gorge so the path you walk to see it is probably 100 yards from the falls..... Only thing is that all that spray then comes shooting back up in huge clouds. So as we walked down the path we were basically in this intense down up downpour! Someone else described it as a river backwash downpour. I got 100% drenched. It was the craziest " rainstorm " ever. Since its the wet season and the water is high we couldn't actually see most of it. Still totally stunning.
We also walked into Zambia over this huge bridge over the gorge. We watched some people bungee jumping. I could have done it for free actually.... But I just really have no desire to do it. It was fun to just spend a little time with the rest of the group too as we had to say goodbye to them this afternoon. I've met a lot of really amazing people that have enriched my life. Especially the Africans. Sam and Midia and brother Godi were so amazing.
Just saw a jackyl
There is the list from this evenings excursion. We all hopped in a big open safari truck and packed our braai stuff which included steaks , sausages, garlic bread and tin foil veggies. We headed out into a safari park and set up a campfire and started cooking our food.... Well corn cooked and we watched in awe. We arrived before the moon rose so we saw a billion stars. We had all almost finished our meal when all of a sudden we heard very close this loud braying sound. We didn't know what it was but Corn just said calmly.... Everyone get in the truck.... Man, we were obedient! We all scurried into the truck and Corn got her spot light and shone it on a large female elephant. She just kept shining the light on her and saying easy now and move on now. She kind of did a mock charge a couple times. And then this whole herd of elephants appeared in the background and there were two elephants braying at each other. After about 5 minutes they got their pack together and moved on. Corn said that it was a pack with lots of young elephants so the matriarch was very protective. She said that the wind was blowing away from us so they probably couldn't hear us and then when she did she was threatened. So....my heart was beating pretty fast.... But it was so amazing to see them up close and hear them braying!!! What an incredible experience! After we packed up and drove off we watched the orange moon rise through the trees and over a herd of giraffes.... Wow this place is amazing!!!
Last night we stayed in Victoria falls. You could hear the roar of the falls from our room. We took off early in the morning to cross the boarder into Botswana. We met Cornelia there who is Rachel's cousin. To get us through faster Rachel told them about how we were trying to hurry to church. So Rachel told them which church and they asked us to sing for them....so we sang I am a child of God and God be with you til we meet again. It was a really lovely thing to feel the spirit strongly in a border crossing office. We got to church about 30 minutes late. It is held in a small rented house. There were probably 20 people in the room.... Mostly children. I love church in other countries. It was wonderful to sing with the saints there and hear all our voices fill that small space. My favorite meeting was relief society. We talked about a past conference talk about trials. Nothing is more universal. We didn't talk about anything revolutionary.... We live, pass through trials, trials are for our own good and we must keep our eye on the goal which is heaven.... But the spirit there was fantastic. The kind you find so prevalently on the forefront of the church where having a strong testimony is all these people have. Cornelia was teaching and she shared her conversion story. She is the cousin of Dean who is Rachel's husband and he gave her a book of Mormon one time before she left to go back to Botswana. She read it and gained a testimony and so she called Rachel's dad and said she wanted to be baptized! Since there wasn't a church within a thousand miles she flew to Harare and received the discussions and was baptized all in the course of a few days and then she moved back to Botswana. For 5 years she was the whole church. She would fly yo Harare three or four times a year to attend church. Then two couples who were members moved to her town and she met them by some random "coincidence". They decided that they needed to work on getting more members and so she started with her maid and her children. They would go out door to door. She took the call even without a badge!!! And 5 years later they have a rented building and a group. Not quite a branch yet. Anyway it was amazing to learn from a real latter day pioneer. I cannot imagine how hard that must be. Such a pleasure to have met her and learn from her. Such a pleasure to go to church here!
Today we spent the day in the village of Binca. Unfortunately because of some village politics we were unable to do any medical or dental work :( thank goodness for Rachel who is around to negotiate all of that. So I guess in the past there had been some nervousness within their village about Rachel's humanitarian group and Satanism... She said that last time she came they had thrown everything away! Anyway, she wanted to make sure we really emphasized that we were a group associated with Christ. So we all gathered together.... There were several hundred of them.... Mostly school kids and they sang us this beautiful native song. ( they don't speak shona here but a lesser known native tongue called Tonga.) And then we sang God be with you til we meet again for them and prayed with them and then did a massive distribution. We were in the school house and I was just in charge of sorting out the clothes. It was really hot and kind of mindless manual labor and it felt good to work hard. I was glad I was not the one handing things out though..... That was stressful the other day. We probably handed out clothing, blankets and school supplies for about 2 hours once we got organized and when we were done we all met again outside and they thanked us for coming and this time their leader prayed for us in return. After the prayer we just got rushed with all these people that wanted to shake our hands and say thank you and God bless you. Closest I will ever come to bring a celebrity. It was really nice to connect with them individually for just a minute and to look into their eyes and just smile at each other. I still don't really like the idea of hand outs but these people do seem to be legitimately grateful. So thus ends our humanitarian work... Tonight we head on to Victoria falls and Botswana for a little tourism time. I don't feel like I helped much but I guess something is better than nothing. Still to early to process all this and how it will affect me in the long run. I'll get to that later..... For now it's time to enjoy all the beauties of Africa!
Wow....its 2am. I would say that we had an epic road trip today. We left gachi gachi this morning at 10 am and arrived here back on lake Karibba at midnight. All day long we drove/4wheeled over dirt roads and stopped each time we would see someone and give out wither clothes or school supplies or little toys to the kids. We stopped at one little group of huts and encountered a few kids. We gave them each a few items of clothing which they were grateful for. As we were getting ready to leave the oldest boy came out pushing his disabled brother in a wheelchair. He told us that he cared for his 3 disabled siblings. Being disabled in America is tough.... But it has got to be so much harder here! We left him with clothes for his siblings and atmit ( fortified flour for malnutrition) ams they took down his information so they could help him in the future. The take away from the day is that these are happy people. They have very little but are very quick to smile and to laugh. Just like what you always hear. Africa is turning out to be exactly like what people tell me. I really loved seeing all those happy faces today! Tonight we are staying on a house boat on the lake in preparation for a clinic tomorrow. So excited to sleep!!! We pulled in at midnight ( our poor driver Sam) had dinner ( the first real meal of the day) at one and now off to bed!
So this morning we got up at 4 am and packed up and got on the road. I realize now why we couldn't do this drive at night.... We have basically been 4 wheeling for the last 3 hours! Very fun! In our car we have been jamming to all my lion king music so its been a fun ride. We just got to this village on lake Karibe and are getting ready to set up the clinic. Luckily we are staying here for the night....so hopefully I'll get a little more sleep.... Only got about 4 hours last night.
So...fast forward 12 hours. I've just eaten a freshly caught fish and chips dinner and am in my room at the Eco lodge under the mosquito net with my citronella candle burning. Super excited to sleep! Clinic today was pretty busy. It was held in a local health clinic in a fishing village on the lake. There were tons of people there so it was pretty chaotic. I did a little medical work and mostly spent the afternoon helping Angie with a distribution. We had two big "bales" of clothing and we handed it out to people. At first it felt pretty organized but as it wore on they got more unorganized and bunched up....first time around we tried to give them something that would fit them and then towards the end when the line was coming back around again we were just giving them any item. Angie says they all trade things around anyway. By the time we finished that people were pretty rowdy and crowding.... It was interesting though, the whole time we were handing things out, people were kind of pushing and demanding and then just as soon as we finished they all stood in a circle and sang and danced and were very pleasant. Not sure if that seems to me the best way to help people but it was certainly a good experience. It took us a long time to clean up and get ready to come back so in the dusk of the African sun we had a mini dance party outside the car....loved it !
We spent the morning doing a dental clinic. I handed out pills and watched a little. Tooth extraction is gross! I actually got woozy at one point and had to sit down for a while. Funny that something like teeth extraction would get to me...eeewww. Anyway, while we were holding the clinic in a little school room we saw a bunch of baboons running around outside. Mischevious little bugger's....at one point we left some car windows open while we were standing by them to leave and one jumped from the clinic roof into an open car window and stole some oranges.... Funny that no matter where you see them.... Monkies have the same personality :) By 2 we were on the road again driving through the national park on to our next destination. As we drove we saw lots of impalas, some storks and even a huge African elephant!!! So amazing!!
So we got on the road later than expected and the gorge we have to pass to be to our next destination is not safe to drive at night so Rachel called in a favor and we are at a safari resort home on lake Carribe right now! Just took a dip in the pool, had some amazing fire grilled steaks for dinner and now I'm headed to bed under a mosquito net on a real bed!! Loving it!