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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Lion and Lamb

In Samburu National Reserve, a Kenyan game sanctuary, the prophecy of Isaiah 11:6 was fulfilled about ten years ago. Jesus' reign is not complete, but in this instance a lioness adopted a young gazelle and raised it. Twice. What better place to spend a day or two before Christmas? But I get ahead of my story. What better way to really experience the anticipation of ADVENT than waiting an extra two hours for Luke to make his way off a late flight, last in line at customs from row 63 on the plane, and then talking his way through customs with a refurbished guitar in a box stuffed full of donated beanie babies? Here he is moments after arrival Monday morning: From there it was a couple of hours through snarled, agonizing, choking Nairobi traffic until we hit the open road and drove north to Samburu. All of our parents gave us generous gifts this Christmas, and this was how we spent some of it: 48 hours together, away from the rest of life, re-bonding and refreshing. Unlike our usual rough-it camping experience, we splurged on a tented camp recommended by our friends Anand and Sophia. We knew this was not a normal Myhre vacation when . . . We were following the rough trek to our camp, pausing to watch a group of elephants cross the shallow river, and around the bend we came upon a welcoming committee. Chairs, cool towels to wipe off the dust, cold drinks, all set up on the river bank where we could stop and watch the sunset before proceeding to the camp. Luke surprised us with a new safari accompaniment: the spotting scope. Binoculars on steroids. Luke can look at a distant horizon and pick out an animal, but the rest of us mere mortals need him to focus the scope to see much detail. It was a great gift! Here Julia tries it out on the veranda of the tent in the afternoon. Meanwhile Jack is cooling off in the heat of the day in a small dipping pool of COLD water. We went on the chilly early morning and late afternoon/evening drive, but mid day the temperatures soared. So each tent comes with it's on opposite-of-a-hot-tub. And our family all had good books to delve into in the heat of the afternoon. Lovely. Our final meal, breakfast this morning, on the river bank again. Any time you have four teens at a buffet you feel like you're getting your money's worth. We did actually see some beautiful views and animals, but those photos have to come from Scott. I only snapped phone shots at meals. A parting shot: Luke shows me that I can get in my own photos. We were only in the park a little over 36 hours, so we debated hiring a guide for game driving since our explore time was limited. But I realized that's not really our style. We aren't really out there to tally up the sightings. We're out there for the experience of wilderness and beauty. For the wind blowing in our faces as we ride out on top of the roof rack. For the way the sun lights up the post-rain grasses. For the spring of the spindly-legged gerenuk and the stately gaze of the oryx. For the family memories, the banter, the meals, the suspended time of being away and together. For all this I'm grateful. Tomorrow morning starts a stretch where we are "on" almost continuously 3 of the next 4 days, including 2 calls, one of which is Christmas. So this trip was a precious gift.

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