Thoughts While On The Masai Mara

African Safari Report

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I am still in Kenya. Tomorrow morning I preach at Nakuru Happy Church’s two morning services. Today I attended and spoke at a bishop ordination for James Karanja, at Molo, Kenya, about an hour from Nakuru.  Earlier this week Chauncey, my son-in-law and Josiah, my 12 year old grandson, along with Bishop Joseph Kamau, our host, and Bob Nichols, my co-worker, spent three days in the Masai Mara Game Preserve. It was a good time and I will likely write more about it. For now I am just including the account of one incident with the hyenas. Chauncey, Josiah and Bob are coming home early and should be at Newark by about noon today.

I am enjoying the trip.  I would love to have been with you tomorrow in the morning worship service and again with you for the evening concert for Molly.  However God is with you and I will be with you in spirit.  Just remember God is able to do far beyond what we can ask or imagine. So ask much and imagine big and be amazed at His greatness.

I love you and miss you. My prayers are with you.

Your brother,

E. Daniel

Of all the animals we saw, Josiah’s favorite was the hyena. I asked him why this was so. He said he did not know; he just liked the hyenas.  Each evening at the lodge where we stayed, the hyenas were fed scraps of meat while tourists nervously watched from a balcony. At 10 pm sharp a lodge employee would walk resolutely to  an open location part way down a hillside toward a surrounding woods. He held onto a bag of meat scraps thrown  over one shoulder while carrying a stout stick with his other hand. A bright light illuminated the area where the meat was deposited  casting eerie shadows into the surrounding woods. After emptying the bag onto a metal grate, the man struck the grate several times  with his stick apparently signaling to the animals it was time for dinner.  Then he turned and  walked slowly away from the scene.

At this point first one and then another hyena would advance toward the meat. They would advance and then retreat; advance and then retreat and finally make a mad dash for the meat, grab a piece and then retreat back into the shadows. Then more hyenas appeared; up to six or eight repeating the same advance-retreat-advance scenario. Then one or two jackals appeared. The jackals actually were more goal directed and persistent and even though smaller than the hyenas managed to effectively get a share of the meat. However a large bush pig suddenly appeared and dominated the scene as the hyenas retreated with deference while he made his choice of the scraps and then lumbered away. The hyenas and jackals then returned to scavenge till all the scraps were gone. In the surrounding shadows one could see eyes reflecting the light suggesting there were many more animals that did not dare come too close to humans or who were possibly planning to wrestle the scraps from their weaker but bolder or more desperate comrades.

On the second evening as we stood on the balcony in the dark tropical night, again nervously awaiting the unknown responses of the ferocious animals, I said to Josiah, “Would you like to go with the man who takes the scraps out to the hyenas. He vigorously nodded his ascent. I checked with his father, Chauncey, who agreed and asked the man assigned to carry the meat if he would take Josiah along and he agreed. This man introduced himself as ‘David’.  He instructed Josiah to stay close by his side and agreed that Josiah could carry his camera and video record the experience.   Promptly at 10 pm David began walking to the grate with the bag of meat on his shoulders and Josiah by his side. The small light of Josiah’s video camera was visible throughout the episode. One of the Chinese tourists  whispered loudly as the pair walked down the hill, “Oh, look! There is a boy with the man.”

The scene this second night was very similar to the first night except that the large bush pig did not appear and a mongoose appeared instead and managed to grab a piece of meat and disappear into the dark.

The main difference tonight for us was our focus on what was happening to Josiah. After emptying his bag of scraps, David hesitated a minute, giving Josiah more time to record the incident. Then he and Josiah walked slowly back up the hill unscathed and probably unnoticed by the hyenas.   Later Chauncey gave David a handsome tip for allowing Josiah to have this experience.

David then said to Josiah, ” I want you to stay here with me. Tell your father and grandfather to go on home and I will take good care of you. I will teach you all about animals and I will show you how to kill a lion. Will you stay?”

Josiah thanked him but said he would stay with his father. We all smiled, aware that the boy was becoming a young man but not too fast. He was growing in confidence but not growing away from his father.

As I reflected on this experience I thought “The fear of the unknown is not as great as the fear of being separated from the ones you love.” Josiah could boldly face his fear of the wild animals because he knew that on the balcony nearby was a father and grandfather who loved him dearly and would not have allowed this experience unless they knew  he would be able to survive it without serious harm. At the same time they were affirming and supportive of his taking on the challenge and risk of facing the unknown.

The Heavenly Father is looking down with pleasure as we face the hyenas and wolves in our lives. He will not allow us to face anything that we cannot handle but he will always make a way through it. At the same time he delights when we take the risk of faith and proceed into the scary unknown, confident that we will be victorious in the strength He provides us.  As we  come through our dark nights of terror and we turn to Him in gratitude, He also smiles that we are growing up in faith but we are not growing away from Him.

–E. Daniel

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