Saturday, July 9, 2016
With our work at Mazimbu completed, we are now tourists for two days. Today we woke before dawn for the 2 hour ride to Mikumi National Park for our safari. As we approached the park, the sun was just rising over the splendor that is Africa.
Everyone that tours Mikumi must do so with a guide, who is an employee of the park and is well trained about the animals, birds and plants that might be encountered. Ibraham hopped aboard our bus and announced that our first stop would be outside the park. Lions had brought down a zebra earlier and were near the road, still feasting on their meal.
We pulled to the side of the road and were amazed to see a pride with two male lions, two very young cubs and 4 females (or juvenile males) about 150 feet from our dala dala. The cameras clicked away as we watched the lions mingle with each other, readjusting their position for their breakfast. Meanwhile, the cubs did what any youngster does—with their bellies full their attention strayed and they began playing and pouncing among the pride.
Ibraham explained that in Africa it is considered good luck to see one lion, even better luck to see a pair, and the best luck of all to see a whole pride with cubs. Later, when we told others what we had seen, they agreed that the sighting really blessed our final day together. We stayed parked by the lions for more than a half an hour, fascinated with the sight.
Entering the park, we slowly bumped over the uneven dirt roads, moving from one area of the park to another. The guides communicate with each other using their cell phones so if animals are spotted in one area, other tours will be able to move for a good view of the animals.
After the lions, we saw giraffe, zebras, cape buffaloes, elands, impalas, wart hogs, hippopotami, crocodiles, baboons, monkeys, mirabou storks, saddle billed stork and so many others. Although we can say we saw elephants, in truth it was just one family group, and from such a far distance we could only see vague humps over the grasses.
Our safari ended with breakfast at the lodge. We sat at an enormous tree-slab planked table overlooking the vast grasslands of Mikumi. As with all of our meals out, it was a very leisurely affair so it was after one pm before our bus began the return back to LJS. Before too long heavy heads began bobbing to make up for our early morning wake-up calls.\
We are sitting now at a lovely restaurant, waiting for our dinner. It is our last time to be together. The Houcks—Pastor Sally, Dr. John and David—head north tomorrow morning to meet family for a safari in Ngorongoro. The rest of the team is off to Dar es Salaam to begin our long trip back to our families and friends. These two weeks have been meaningful beyond words for us as we have worked with, served, and loved our Tanzanian brothers and sisters. We all want to thank our families, our friends, our churches and our prayer partners for your support.
Until next year, we bid this enchanting land kwa heri.
Wednesday, July 6, 2016
Our final week at Mazimbu is normally busier than the first week, a pattern which is repeating this year. The first week is busy with the initial consult with patients. By the second week, lab and other diagnostic tests have been completed on those earlier patients and the available slots for surgery are booked.
Surgeries this year have seemed to swing back and forth between Dr. John and Dr. Swai. Monday’s surgeries were predominantly gynecological procedures, so we were not able to register any new gynecological cases. But Dr. John was in his office all day so many new, non-gynecological patients were registered. The reverse was true for Tuesday and Wednesday. This makes things a bit tricky for Courtney and Pati, who have been manning our registration desk. The team must manage the line of hopeful patients so that we are able to register patients for the doctor that is holding clinic on that day. The others are given numbers and asked to return another day. The number will give them priority to the front of the line.
Tuesday’s schedule was so full, we knew we would be at the hospital late in the day. Dinner at LJS is served promptly at 6 so we opted to eat at a restaurant, the Arc Hotel, where we arrived at 7:30. A table for 19 was set up on the patio, where we enjoyed a wonderful view of the sunset over Mt. Uluguru.
Dinner for a crew of our size takes quite a while so it was after 10 when we arrived back at LJS—way too late for a team meeting. Today, Wednesday, we have five surgeries scheduled so, in anticipation of another long day we are going back to the Arc but this time we have pre-ordered, hoping to shorten the time needed for our evening meal.
Our lunches at the hospital have improved this week. Dora is a woman we met on Friday that brings home-made goodies to Mazimbu for the staff to purchase. She agreed to cook our lunches and bring the food in for our convenience. And she takes requests! Today we asked for the Tanzanian version of fast food—sambosas (fried, meat filled or egg and meat filled pastries), kababu (minced meat balls rolled in bread crumbs and fried), kaukau (vegetable filled pastries), rice, peas, pumpkin greens and bananas. This was so well received the team has asked for the same dishes to be prepared for us for tomorrow’s lunch!
Thursday and Friday are fully booked with four surgeries each day. Our clinic visits will end at noon on Friday to give the team the afternoon to wrap up. We must give an accounting to the hospital of the patients we treated and the medical supplies and medicines we leave as a gift.
We hope to post again after our safari to Mikumi national park on Saturday.