Christmas morning we met again and had a ‘breakfast casserole’ and fruit. The elders each received a ‘sock’ with some candy, tie, T-shirt, and a pair of socks. Some who needed it were given a white shirt as well. Some got a parcel from home but some did not. We had a ‘white elephant’ gift exchange but no one wanted to steal as the gifts were all definitely ‘white elephants’!! haha
We then all went to Antelope Park game reserve and resort. The elders were pretty excited to be able to go but were disappointed that they couldn’t go on the elephant ride or the walk with the lions. We did all go on a safari ride on the back of a truck and we had a good guide that talked to us a lot about the animals and the trees and vegetation. They had a good time. Afterwards we headed back to the church and put dinner in the oven (ham, scalloped potatoes, butternut squash, and a roll – o yes, and pumpkin pie). During this time they took turns talking to their parents on the cell phones. It was hard to get connections but I think they all managed to get a chance to talk to their families. We then played a game with some of them and watched another movie. By then it was time to clean and pack up.
We had made a reservation at a lodge that was on the list at the mission office. We paid for our two nights but were rather disappointed in the accommodation. It was old but the worst part was the gross shower. After we checked in we stopped at Pres. Paradzai’s office to drop off an envelope and he mentioned a new place that was nice. We called and they had space for the next night so we told the first place that we had a change in plans and they did give us back our money for the second night. We were glad we did that as the new place “Village Lodge” was really nice and we had a good sleep there. We had arranged to meet up with the Mayfields on Sat. when they were coming back from Bulawayo and we stayed an extra night there. Saturday we went back to Antelope Park and had a nice relaxing day there. We went on a game drive again but this time we went on a mule drawn wagon and were able to get up closer to the animals. We sat in the shade and relaxed while Elder Mayfield waited for his elephant ride – which he loved! After that we all went on the ‘walk with the Lions’.
The Lion Walk took about 1 ½ hrs. and it was great! We each were given a stick and told that if the lions were to look at us with a ‘naughty look’ (he said we would know what that was if it happened) we were to point the stick at the lion and say “NO” without having a shaky voice or shaky knees! - the lions would know if we were scared and they would single us out and pick on us! YIKES! *The naughty look: if the lion were to crouch down and look us in the eye as if he were about to pounce (it never happened). We were instructed to not touch their heads or faces and of course, not confront them at all.
The lions (1 male and 1 female, 15 months old siblings) stopped a couple times to wrestle with each other and at one point the female spotted some impalas in the distance and she walked off towards them and watched them. They must have sensed the lion as they ran off after a little bit. The lion handlers then called her back and she came. The females lions are the ones that do the hunting. The males are kind of lazy guys.
They take the cubs when they are 3 weeks old and work with them. (stage 1). When they are 18 months old they are introduced to hunting for themselves (stage 2) and when they are pretty good at that they are put out to totally take care of themselves with no human interaction (stage 3). Stage 4 is when they are confident that they can survive on their own and will be put into a ‘pride’ where they are needed. Lions are an endangered species as the population has decreased considerably in the past several years. It was an interesting experience that we likely won’t ever do again.
This morning (Sunday) we drove to Kwe Kwe for church (about 40 minutes down the road). We had never been there before. We were impressed with the branch. They even had a grand piano in the chapel – the first one we have ever seen here in a church) and a girl could even play it pretty good. The people were very friendly, as usual.
We had a good weekend but it is good to get back home too. Back to work tomorrow!! Lots to do!
P.S. I was going to tell you – in all the church’s here they have what they call a ‘strong room’ (basically a room with no windows and a heavy metal ‘safe’ door). They keep their library items in there and anything of worth. Anyway, at the church in Gweru they even put the fridge and stove in their when it is not being used. So when we were there the fellow had to come and get them out and put them back about 3 times for us. Luckily the strong room was right across the hall from the kitchen/relief society room. There are no dishes or supplies in the kitchen here as they would just get stolen. Too bad!!
Sunset as we left Antelope Park