I had a restless night with a lot of emotions to work though but today was our last day in Zomba and with the people in Chuluchosema. I was time to say goodbye to George and Christopher who have cooked, cleaned and cared for us during our stay at Hope guest house. The cost of our stay was only $15 per day per person which included Georges wages. Christopher was hired additionally and a generous wage for him was 3000 kwacha per day or about $4...we didn't feel that was enough so we up it a reasonable amount but still it's not enough.
I also thought it was time to show you the van that Xander drives us in each day. I don't think the speedometer has ever worked and there are no shocks.
This is my usual seat, Xander likes me as his co-pilot!
Bryan and I didn't ride in the van today but instead rode with Silas in his Landrover to be part of the tradition of throwing the sweets to the kids. It is a step up from the van but still it's a 1998...almost 20yrs old. Apparently there was an offer to buy him a brand new one for the celebration of his jubilee year but he turned it down. This one still runs, it's easy to fix and all the police and officials knows it as his vehicle so it makes his traveling easier. That is why I felt good about supporting this ministry. This is a man who knows when and how to use resources wisely.
As we arrived at church, the women's choir filed out to welcome us with song and dance.I am working on how to upload the videos to the blog.
Inside, the church was decked out for worship and people were already singing.
As visitors we were called to the front to introduce ourselves to the congregation. Bryan and I didn't really need to be introduced as after 3 days of eye clinics, we were given VIP treatment throughout the service. More about that in a moment.
We were honoured to present the church congregation a banner that had been hand made by a lady from our church so that they could always remember our visit.
Then the team acted out the story of the Good Samaritan for the children's story.
Silas then called forward all the parents with babies for blessings. Afterward he told me, he does this not just to bless them but to check on their health and nutrition. If he sees signs that there may be a problem he will go to them after the service and direct them to services to help. He cares for the people of the villages so much and knows that early care is the best.
Now how did I know all of this was going on? Well, as the service began special interpreters were seated with Bryan and myself so that we were aware of everything in the service. One gentleman came up during the announcement time with a special message. He was from another congregation and had been sent to thank us for giving the eyeglasses and exams not just to one church but to everyone who had come....no matter where they came from.
Also Silas called us up to give us special recognition to the congregation for the work we had done, the glasses we had brought and that we had done this all at our own expense. As much as it was an honour to receive the gratitude of the congregation, it was also very humbling and heartbreaking. As 2 of us stood there, there were 4 other lovely people sitting in the pews who were just as important as us adn doing great work with the children, helping us during the clinics by finding glasses and cleaning up, who we wouldn't be there without their hard work and organization. There should have been 6 people standing up there. Also although Bryan and I are the faces they see, there are so many generous face that gave us everything we need to do such a good job serving these communities. From donated auto-refractors, tools, frames, lenses, money and just encouragement and support...from opticians all across Canada. We didn't do this alone. SO the gratitude that was given to day is share...many times over.
After the children's story, Cathy and Sara, handed out hand crocheted dolls made over the last year by ladies at the church. Yes, while we were making glasses, they were making dolls. Both brought much joy to the receiver.
After church, we paired off and we honoured to be hosted by a local family in their home. Cathy and I visited with Stevenson. He is a teacher at the local school and his wife is a tailor. All along the walk to the house, I had to run interference between Cathy and the chickens that roam free. Cathy has an irrational fear of live chickens....like some people do to spiders or bugs but she can't step and squash them. It's ridiculous and hilarious and we have given he quite the hard time about it.
Steveson welcomed us to his home. It is quite up scale because of his position of being a teacher.
And his wife has her own sewing machine.
They were quite curious about life in Canada and I was able to show them pictures of me in the snow. Which amazed them! They said it didn't even look like me and how far could I walk dressed like that!
Cathy enjoyed talking to them about the education system as she was a teacher for many years.
We said goodbye to our new friends with good wishes and open arms to come back any time. Stevenson said I was even welcome to come back and teach!
Our next adventure was to Liwonde National Park where there was a game reserve and we would be staying for the evening. It was a lovely drive with the Zomba Plateau rising up beside us.
We were rushing to make it for an evening safari and sure enough we were ehld up by one of maybe 2 possible trains that might pass through in a week. This one is carrying coal
We also has a very close call with a bicycle on the road. Xander was coming up behind him and honked to let him know to move over. Instead he swerved towards us forcing us into the other lane and into the path of another truck. It was Xander's excellent driving that maneuovered us just between the bicycle and the truck saving a crash on either side. But it was so close that I actually felt the shirt of the cyclist on my elbow that I was resting on the window!
It was just after 4 when we arrived at the park and it was Cathy's goal to see an elephant
I reminded Bryan that there was a strict No Hunting policy.
Our first spotting was guinea fowl and a few monkeys
Then a Water Bok
The horns were incredible
Then we saw Pumba's family. Xander thought it was hilarious that we referred to the warthogs as Pumba so he started pointing to all the animals and refering to them as their Lion King names.
A whole herd of hooded buffalo
And Kubus(spelling?) They have REALLY big ears.
The sun was starting to set and we got the news that the elephants were 25kms away. We decided to go back to the camp and wait until the morning.
The Camp we are staying at seems beautiful but it is too dark to take photos tonight. We had a delicious dinner of grilled chicken, beef stew, potatos, rice and coleslaw. We also got dessert that was banana and strawberries in what I think was tapioca or that other root that is like it. We dined by candle light with the starry African sky above us.
Most have turned in for the evening. But I am here, in the outdoor patio, listening to the sounds of the wild with the wind in the trees. It is almost completely dark except the light of my screen. I thought I was alone but there is one staff member here. He is just sitting quietly letting me enjoy the evening. But he is here to protect me from the animals. I apologised and said that I could stop but he said no, this is his job to ensure that I enjoy Africa but protected from the wild.
We are not alone in this world. We are watched over by a protector who cares for us.