Saturday, November 2, 2013

Swaziland Day 6 - Wild Animals, Wild Playtime

On Thursday of our trip, we spent the morning on safari.  There is always a risk on a safari that we won't see anything really exciting, but it seems each year we have had one type of animal that chooses to really show off and give us a great photo shoot.  There are LOTS of pictures here, but what you need to realize is that I started with 351 to choose from. So, I basically narrowed it down to 23.  
All ready to go in the truck.
 We first saw some rhinos. 

 Surprisingly, we found a lion next.  He laid down pretty quickly and was hard to see.  
When he lays down his head, it is completely impossible to see him in the bush!
 We came back later and got a better view of him.  He even got up, turned around, 
 and sat down facing us so we could get some pics!
 Next we headed to the watering hole. 
 I was so hoping to see a hippo or 2, but no such luck.  We sat there for a few minutes looking at this crocodile and bird(Can you see them?).  I was thinking, "Really?  This is all we are going to see?"  Then, the show began!

We were very excited to see an elephant approach the watering hole.
 What we didn't realize was that he was leader, and he had quite the following.
 Love that you can see the water dripping from his mouth as he drinks.
 Before it was all said and done, we had 9 elephants that were gathering on both sides of the watering hole.  
 Before it was over, they had even gathered around our truck.  
I could literally reach out and touch this one if I wanted to.  
 This one was nice enough to wave and pose for us. 

Eventually, they all walked by us and headed somewhere else.  So, we headed out with our truck and encountered another, not so happy elephant.  He was coming at us showing all the signs of aggression. Our driver decided we should quickly back up and hid our truck behind a bush.  It was a bit scary there for a moment or two.  
 Next, we encountered this giraffe
 He was all alone
 We watched him walk around a while and then he left
 I love the grounds at the game park.  We have several pictures with this background from previous trips.  Now, we have one with Abby!!
 This was the first trip where I didn't have my cowboy hat.  I missed it on the safari!
 Our fabulous team!  We love having Sandile to drive us around.  He has become our friend.  We really enjoyed our time with him throughout the week!
 With Rick
 Just as we were preparing to leave, a class of children got out of a van.  They were so cute looking at the rhinos.  Now that is one field trip I could get on board with!!
 After ANOTHER meal at Nandos, we headed back to the Halfway House bearing gifts.  It was so much fun to deliver food, gifts, diapers, formula and other supplies to them!!
 Little Miss Sunshine smiling it up with Chip!
 This little one was attached to Abby the whole time
 Sweet little Mumford
 Precious little eyes
 These two were playing in the cabinet and were very shy
 Time for bananas!!
 Sweet baby!
 We spent the next couple of hours just playing.  It was nice enough to go outside.  
 Gideon was very happy on this toy
 I loved watching them eat their bananas
 For those of you who have been before, this is Smalley!!  
Can you believe how big she is?  And as beautiful as always!
 We had lots of fun on this seesaw.  
 We brought some bouncy balls for them. 
 (NOTE TO SELF:  Next time, bring about 15 bouncy balls!!)
 The time flew by.  It was so awesome to just see the kids be kids and have fun!
 I cannot get enough of this girl. 
 She really opened up and was laughing and smiling!
 Abby got a workout on the seesaw
 How many kids can we fit on this seesaw?
 Love this pic!!  That little guy is determined and the tree in the back is beautiful!
 Holly with Little Miss Sunshine
 Just the boys hangin' out!
I worked my magic once again and had one of the kids fall asleep on me.  I think when I hold them, I must feel like a pillow because they just drift off!  Our time there was so special.  Just knowing that Isaiah and Laila spent 6 months there connects me to this place and these children.  As the time approached to leave, we could all feel the sadness that our time was over.  You could see the desperation in the eyes of the kids return as their eyes begged us to stay and they would not let go.  We experienced our own set of emotions.  Why does it have to be this way?  These children need families to live in.

Right before we left, we experienced a really special moment with Maureen, the woman in charge.  She came to us and said the she wished that she had something Swazi to give us.  We thanked her and told her how we did not expect that and it was very thoughtful of her.  She then presented me with a piece of fabric with the Swazi flag on it and gave us a piece of fabric for Isaiah and Laila with the King's picture on it.  She said it was for picnics because it had a couple of holes in it.  What amazing gifts!!  She has no idea how much that touched our hearts and it felt like our relationship too a huge step forward in that moment.

That was how this trip felt, like we made huge steps in our relationships with our Swazi friends.  We are experiencing the benefit of seven years of investment.  So many people come, leave, and never return.  Or, they come, make promises, and never fulfill them.  That has been a huge obstacle we have had to overcome and build the trust that says, "We will come back, we will not forget, we are called to this!"

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