October 18, 2004
A Day of Grace
Journals are for recording the good with the bad, and yesterday we had a big dose of both. The day started off poorly. Although our teenaged daughters have adjusted to life here remarkably well, and are doing well in school, making friends and volunteering each week, they still show signs of being spoiled Americans from time to time, and that frustrates us as parents. Saturday night they were doing just that, behaving in what we considered to be a self-centered and impolite manner. (Some of this is to be expected from teenagers, but they were being especially obnoxious.)
When they got up on Sunday morning at 5 a.m. they were really being rude and impatient. Dan lost his temper and threatened to send them home if they didn’t shape up. (This battle of words was going on while we were driving to Domasi.) Heather of course, was crying, while Brooke wouldn’t speak at all. That made Dan even madder. I tried to mediate, and then everyone was mad at me. However, I am happy to report that by the time we reached Domasi (we only had to stop the car twice for intense “conversations”), we had all apologized to each other and promised to change our behavior. I won’t nag as much, Heather will help out more around the house and think of others more, Brooke won’t be a pain in the neck on purpose and Dan will try not to get angry with them as much. We will see how it goes, but I guess that is what forgiveness and repentance and grace are all about.
Anyway, Domasi is a beautiful place nestled on the side of a mountain and overlooks the start of the Great Rift Valley. It was a very clear day, so you could see as far as Lake Chilwa which glimmered in the early morning sun. Dan preached a wonderful sermon to a congregation filled with teenagers from the CCAP Secondary School there. They responded well to his style and his jokes.
After the Celebration of Worship, we took the three American doctors from Pittsburgh who had been doing volunteer medical work at the H. Parker Sharpe clinic at the Domasi Mission on an outing. (It was their only day off in the two weeks they will be here!) We drove northwest to Liwonde National Park, which is a 542 square kilometer game preserve. The animals are hard to see from the road in the Park, and we had been told that the best way to see them was by taking a boat ride up the Shire River.
So we all went to the Hippo View Lodge and had lunch. The Doctors tasted nsima (ground corn) for the first time and sampled the chambo (tasty local fish), rice, vegetables and chicken, which they deemed delicious. The lodge is aptly named, because while we were eating we watched hippos in the river!
Then we got into a small sightseeing boat with our guide/captain, Maxton, and headed up the Shire. The next two and a half hours were amazing. We saw dozens of hippos floating in the water, yawning and swimming. We even saw two walking on land near some warthogs. Then we saw a herd of elephants. About five of them were within ten yards of the boat! We watched them eat. It was remarkable. Their trunks are so agile, and their ears are huge! It was the highlight of the day.
We also spotted dozens of unusual looking and colorful birds. An eagle carrying some kind of prey clutched in it’s talons flew right over our boat. Baobab trees dotted the plains along the river. Legend states that God was angry and uprooted the tree from somewhere and then slammed it into the ground again, leaves first, leaving the roots sticking out in the air. That is why it looks so odd. Legend aside, they are magnificent trees. We also spotted a few crocodiles floating in the water and just enjoyed the warm rays of the sun (while lathered in sunscreen) and the cool African breezes. It was a day that none of us will forget. And I suspect that the Merrys, years from now, will remember the elephants and hippos rather than the arguments. Time does that. Or maybe it is God’s grace.