16 March, 2014

I have been to the Mara...

I have watched the Masai dance, or maybe it's called jumping.....i have been asked to jump along. I declined.

I have seen a mother lion with her two cubs.....

I have watched cheetahs soaking up the sun....

I have seen the hippos snorting in the water....

Giraffes meandering behind our Land Rover.......

 A baby zebra getting his morning "chai".....

I have heard tales of my "warriors" stalking rhinoceros.

Momma Elephant and not so little baby...

I've looked across the African Savannah and felt my heart overwhelmed at a God who created such beauty.

And i've been operated on in a Kenyan hospital.

To think that i used to be afraid i would turn 90 and look back at my life and think "boring."

To think i used to believe the christian life would be an endless stream of babies, sermons, and rules.

From the beginning it was a trip that promised to be interesting. We were headed to the Mara with Marlin's parents, his married sister Loisann, her husband Anthony, and their baby daughter, Eliana.

We were anxious to sink our eyes into the kind of wildlife that we'd only seen at zoos or the National Geographic. But getting there was a bit of an adventure. The roads were National Geographic worthy, with mere paths at some points and rock strewn at others. We passed curious Kenyans and filled the van up with diesel at a village gas station, surrounded by mud houses and smiling people. 

After miles of tortuous bumps, we questioned our sanity and thot perhaps we would experience the wildlife without a guide or a place to sleep. But at long last, after passing various blanket wrapped Masai and their herds of cattle and sheep, we arrived at Fairmont Safari Club. 

It was beautiful, everything we'd hoped for. The lodge was gorgeous, and the chai delicious. Our beds were soft, the linens spotless white and the rooms impeccably decorated. Chai, coffee, and hot chocolate were brought to our door every morning before the safari drive, 
and hot water bottles were gently placed in each bed. 
While we were out adventuring, our beds were made and every meal was a culinary delight. 

Ahh, let the pampering begin with some wildlife scenery on the side...

I should've known better.

We headed out that first morning at 6:30 in the early chill, wrapped in our own Masai blankets, and oohed and ahhed over giraffes, cheetahs, cape buffalo, lions, and all kinds of antelope.

It was a grand adventure and i thought often at how amazing my life is that i'm in Africa,
seeing things that most people only dream of.

We headed back to the club at around 8:30 for a breakfast buffet 
and some glorious swimming in the pool. 

Unfortunately mid morning our privacy was shattered as several bus loads of people arrived and decided to soak up some sun for themselves. The afternoon drive wasn't til 3:30 so there was plenty of time to just be lazy and dream of seeing leopards and rhinos.

We ate yet more food at lunch but for some reason i wasn't hungry. And i started feeling very grouchy. How strange, i thought, to be grouchy on vacation. We sat for a bit after lunch, waiting for everyone to finish eating when i felt a sharp pain in the right side of my stomach. By the time i got back to our tent i could barely stand up right. While the rest of the family headed out on safaris, snapping pictures of the big five, I lay sweating in our soft bed with it's spotless linens. My personal adventure had begun.

Long story short, i ended up at Tenwek hospital the next afternoon, poked and prodded, and finally wrapped in an operating gown with broken strings. The rest of our crew headed home while the doctors prayed over my woozy self and then relieved me of my appendix. I woke up puking and gagging, and have a faint memory of a row of people saying, "one, two, three," as they lifted me off of the operating table onto a bed. I again woke up with more puking and a hazy view of Marlin hovering over my bed like some kind of very earthly angel. And then the nurse with the blessed anti-nasuea medicine that knocked me out cold. I remember various wakings and an old Masai man with dangling ear lobes in the bed next to me, mumbling through his oxygen mask. I can still hear the nurses chuckling over his begging for chai but i remember more their gentleness and kindness. I also remember the bedpan. I'd rather not relive that part. Some things you just don't plan for.

But God is good, the appendix operation could've have been much more intense, and i'm now left with memories of not only African wildlife, but of what it's like to be a patient in a hospital while surrounded by another culture. Not everyone gets to have rows of people stare in amazement as the white woman hobbles to the toilet while clutching the back of her gown. Neither do they get to see the looks of interest when the same white woman grabs a top sheet off the emergency room bed and uses it to wrap around her aching torso and bare legs in a desparate attempt at modesty. And even in my pain and operating gown embarrassment, i knew that someday i would look back and not trade the experience for anything. My life is rich and full, sometimes to the breaking point, and i really hope and pray that i can stay out of hospitals and away from surgeons with sharp knives, but at the end of the day, i'm glad to be me.

Saved by grace, held in the arms of God. A person in love with Jesus and a heart full of tears and laughter, valleys and mountaintops. Somehow it is all working to make His glory shine brighter and if it can shine through this human mess of inflamed appendixes and scratchy legs, it's worth it all.


  1. Darla, I LOVE your writing! I feel almost like I'm sitting there drinking chai with you and listening to your stories and seeing the love of Jesus shine on your face.

    Thank you for sharing. I send love and hugs your way...

    The Lord bless you and keep you always...

  2. Thanks Marcia...i would love to drink chai with you. :)

  3. I love it! The photos, the descriptions, the humor, the pain, the whole package! You are a fantastic storyteller, weaving the things of dreams into the blanket of daily life. Someday, your book will be on my shelf next to James Harriot!

    Love you!

  4. I'm going to need lots of peace and quiet and much chocolate before i can write that book, Licia, so can i come to your house? O wait, as long as we both have young children there is very little peace and quiet and when they grow up and i come to your house, we'll have plenty of chocolate but still no peace and quiet because we'll be talking too much! Love you!

  5. Wow!! I guess you won't be looking back and saying "My life was boring" ! Hopefully you're feeling a lot better! I always get a little excited when I see you posted again :)
    Praying for your family!
    The Snaders

  6. Oh dearie :( Now you deserved to go back and be pampered for another day.
    I'm glad to hear that you are okay!


Please leave your name (if it is not in your Google ID) so we know who you are. Thanks.