29th – 31st August 2013
After an intense few days helping out in the various ministries of Silas and Rahab, it was good to have time to chat things over together while we had a bit of a safari experience in the famous Masai Mara game park.
The journey to the park was another lesson in how varied the Kenya landscape and climate is. We left the lush green fields of Thomson’s Falls very early as the heavy dew lay on the ground and the morning mist still filled the valleys of the rolling country. Within an hour we had plunged down into hot scrubland. Then we were quickly into beautiful parkland where savannah had been transformed into rolling wheat fields picturesquely dotted with acacia trees in a scene I knew my farmer friends back in Suffolk would adore.
But as we repeatedly turned off one small road to an even smaller one we were eventually driving down dusty dirt roads through true savannah, dodging flocks of goats herded by brightly dressed Maasai herdsmen. The prize at the end was our green and shaded guesthouse set, as we have come to expect, incongruously only a few hundred yards from the squalid village of the semi-settled Maasai.
It shows the determination of Silas and Rahab that their long term vision is for trained evangelists from their existing Maasai fellowships to reach out to these more remote cousins in Masai Mara.
That evening and the following day we drove deep into the Maasai Mara reserve. I had hoped to be overwhelmed by close encounters in the wild with the animals we only see in zoos and TV documentaries, and I was. But what I had not been prepared for was the stunning beauty of the arid landscape itself. This combined steep scrub covered hills reminiscent of my many trips to Southern California, with vast areas of wide, Wildebeest and acacia covered grassy plains that gave a taste of what the American prairies must have looked like before it was transformed by man.
Despite enjoying getting face-to-face with animals such as giraffe, zebra, hippo, crocodile, elephant, hyena, lion and leopard, I must admit I came away, if anything, humbled and saddened. Humbled at experiencing this stunning new dimension of God’s creation. Humbled and saddened by the way fallen man always seems to instinctively damage rather than steward the wonders of creation.
Above all I was saddened by the abiding picture burnt in my memory more permanently than any photograph. A picture of a noble solitary silent leopard turning its head to stare straight through my camera lens into my eyes, as it was surrounded by a dozen jostling tourist inhabited vans.
It was one of those moments when you suddenly think: Who is the wild animal here? Who is the prisoner? Who is free?