Every year over a million wildebeest make the trek from the Serengeti in Tanzania to the Masai Mara in Kenya. This is one of nature’s most wondrous spectacles and I knew when I was going to be in Kenya for a year that I wanted to witness it. Specifically, I wanted to witness a river crossing (everyone should watch the YouTube video of wildebeest vs. crocodile vs. lion). Even the international airport here puts up a herd of wildebeest statues to commemorate the annual migration. So when my friend of 15 years Kristalee decided she was going to come visit, I told her July so that it would coincide with the migration, as well as overlap with 2 weeks that Hannah’s mom would be visiting.
Not only was it a migration of wildebeest, of which there were so many but also tourists. It’s high season and looking out onto the horizon was impossible to do without spotting a few safari vehicles. So we donned our safari hats and cargo khakis and joined the throngs of people flooding in from all over the world to see the Masai Mara. I’ve been on several safaris before but there is definitely nothing like the Mara. Six lion sightings, a cheetah, one successful and numerous attempts at a river crossing, thousands and thousands of wildebeest and zebra, an elephant charging and 7 ladies aged 19-60+ with our awesome driver Andrew made it an unforgettable weekend. I could at this point upload a million amazing photos of all the animals we saw up close but I am one of the school of thought that you can Google fantastic photos of animals so you don’t necessarily need to see mine. I take them just to prove and remember I saw them in real life but we all know what lions and elephants look like.
Kristalee and I also took a shuttle bus down to Moshi, Tanzania and stayed in a mountain top lodge with an unobstructed view of Mount Kilimanjaro. This part of our holiday was… adventurous to say the least. The van that was meant to take us up to the lodge kept getting stuck in the mud, despite everyone’s best efforts to push us out so we ended up hiking up to the lodge. We hiked out to Mnambe Falls, a 285 feet or 85 meter tall waterfall embedded in the side of this mountain. The mist coming off the falls made the path so muddy that I ended up ditching my sandals and just hiking barefoot. The water was freezing, but the crazy Canadian girl in me decided that this water must be jumped in. Krista, not to be outdone, decided to jump in too and surfaced screaming, “I HATE YOU!” I would just like to disclaim this statement by saying at no point did I tell her to jump in or try to persuade her. Thus her hate is unfounded.
For our journey home we had to catch a 6:30 am shuttle and woke up at 4 am to downpour and darkness. We had to make our way down this windy mountainside road where literally, if you went over the edge you went down the mountain. Our car had no seatbelts and no defroster. One of the guides from the lodge, Jackson, spent the majority of the “drive” (it was more like sliding down mud) wiping the windshield with his toque (or beanie for my readers south of the 49th). At one point we hit a tree, Jackson got out and just pushed the car back onto the road, and we continued sliding. I really, literally thought I was going to die.
Alas, I survived that harrowing journey and was able to return to work. Which is probably a good thing as it’s also high season for the migration of short termers. June/July is the busiest season as college and university students are on summer holidays and choose this time to come out to serve here. We had at one point 30 short term missionaries on the field in Kenya and Tanzania and it’s exciting to see where God is leading and using them. This makes my holiday perhaps, in hindsight, poorly timed but thanks to a little thing called grace, it all worked out. All our STers are alive, not in jail and where they are supposed to be. Some are even thriving and when I see pictures like this one (they’re single *wink wink* even despite the best intentions of Lydia, a Masai Market vendor to set me up with one) that makes all the mundane, unglamourous, day-in, day-out of my job worth it .
The Oxford dictionary defines migration as movement from one part to another. Migration seems to be a theme in my life for July. Hannah and I had our rather teary and painful goodbye last week and she’s moved on to her new life. I’ve moved out of our home with our family to a new flat by myself (it’s super cute)! Kristalee has come and gone after a whirlwind of East Africa. Many of the aforementioned 30 short termers have also returned home or are on their way soon. For me, many of the short termers become my social circle since I’m not here full time (i.e. indefinitely) and that makes this season difficult, especially knowing that some of these people I likely will never see again. But change is an unpredictable and unavoidable aspect of life and especially life on the mission field. I believe every person, every relationship and every experience though plays into who we are and who we become. Hopefully, I’ve learnt something or grown a little with each person I meet and interaction I have and these experiences are molding me into the person and missionary God wants me to be. So bring it on.