ROY AND BETTY’S DIAMOND (60th) ANNIVERSARY SAFARI
What better way to celebrate 60 years of marriage than to revisit the wonderful people and places which have brought sparkle to our life. So far-flung were these dear friendships that we ended up circling the globe. And in 150 travel days we spent only two nights in hotels. Our friends abound in hospitality!
START in UK
Our first stop was in an ultra- peaceful nook of Wales, visiting old Kenya friends the Sales on their deer farm. Then a stay with Oldfields (niece) and visit with more old Kenya friends in Oxford.
RVA CENTENNIAL CELEBRATION
– This was a central facet in our “diamond”.
– RVA (Rift Valley Academy) was founded in 1906 and had its corner stone laid by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1909. Roy attended there in the ‘30s, we taught there in the ‘50s and sent three kids there for High School.
– About 150 former-students came from many countries for four days to reminisce and to celebrate the institution’s unusual history with its distinctively Christian perspective.
– A highlight was the annual Varsity vs. “Old Boys” rugby match.
– For many of us the celebration was extended as we toured four parks: Mt Kenya,
Lake Nakuru, Masai Mara and Jadini Beach.
We enjoyed the especially helpful hospitality of the Meredith family in Karen (on a total of three visits to/through Nairobi).
We visited NBC (Nairobi Baptist Church) where our membership goes back about forty years. The relative vastness of its new sanctuary does not seem to have diminished the family atmosphere we knew of old. This is in part due to the gentle, genial mentoring of Pastor John Gichinga.
OLASITI (Steve and Marilyn’s home on the outskirts of Arusha, Tz.)
Spent upwards of six weeks here while Marilyn was partly on leave from teaching.
Joined the family (including Caleb and Lane and on occasion Serena) in a mixture of recreation and practicality. Recreation included watching motorcycle racing, “breis” (BBQ), rugby tournaments, Simonson clan affairs, walks and just enjoying each other.
Practicalities included making changes in household appearance, maintenance and rehabilitation projects and touching base with Selian hospital.
With Steve and Marilyn and Albuquerque friends Bill and Alice Willis we spent seven nights and eight days reveling in the vast Serengeti and it’s environs. Highlights included:
– Ngorongoro Crater, a geologic/biologic wonder-spot.
– Olduvai pre-history “digs” by Louis and Mary Leakey.
– Ndutu Camp – a charming spot, especially for birders.
– Seronera -. a biologic “Times Square”
– The Migration – lines of thousands of wildebeest galloping on instinct in a set direction.
– Dozens of elephant families along the way doing their own thing, oblivious to us.
– Reunion in Masailand with old time colleague., He was the first African District Commissioner
Masailand, in newly independent Tanganyika (early ‘60s).
– Descent of the western wall of The Great Rift Valley, 2,000’ down to Lake Natron.
– Scramble in/along/up a rocky, narrow, tumbling river to a waterfall off the Rift wall.
– Circumnavigation of Oldoinyo Le’Ngai, a 14,000’ Fuji-like volcanic cone.
– Enjoying families of elephant browsing yards from our tent at Tarangire.Safari Lodge.
– Loafing on the terrace at Tarangire overlooking a “Shangri-La”-like riverine plain with
it’s kaleidescope of animal and birdlife.
Roy with sister Esther and friend Miriam drove around Kilimanjaro into Kenya to Lasit mission site, where we had spent much of our youth. We met a few old timers who recounted warm first-hand memories of Roy and Ruth Shaffer. Still present were the grevilia trees they had planted and the community spring-protection tradition.
Sadly, missing was our mud-and-wattle home and the glacier atop Kilimanjaro.
KCMC (Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Center)
Sited at Moshi, this is a sort of a “Mayo-on-the-Mountain”, being a referral hospital and broad-spectrum training center. We had taught there in the late ‘90s so enjoyed a return visit. Happily, we saw great progress, but expectations always far exceed resources of funding, talent and dedication.
Dr OLE KUNEI
Dr Ole, a Maasai is an AMO (Assistant Medical Officer) with post-graduate training in opthalmology. He is passionately dedicated to his people, so to visit him is to visit his clan. With a background of the setting sun highlighting the peaks of Kili. and Meru we walked with his herds in their return to the kraal to join their lowing calves. It could have been Abraham’s time in Ur of the Chaldees. Ole’s melodious whistled communication with his cattle was rapturous.
We took a special trip from Nairobi via Entebbe to westernmost Uganda to revisit Kagando Hospital where we had worked in the ‘80s. Against many odds the hospital has achieved a remarkable degree of self-reliance. It is a source of hope and motivation to a very large, very rural and very isolated population. We paid special attention to projects providing water supply to surrounding areas and to the aging hydroelectric system. Friends Joe and Liz Bamford are very involved in this. In the 500 land miles from and back to Entebbe airport we were reminded of why Churchill called Uganda the “Pearl” of Africa.
We flew by Emirate airways from Nairobi via Dubai and Bangkok to Sydney. Old Kenya hands gave us a gratifying 30 hours in this very gracious city. Then by bus to Canberra the capital to meet dear friends from Kenya in the1960s, the Etheringtons. We strolled among clustres of kangaroo and acres of floral pageantry (“Floriales”) and looked down from two scenic high spots while reminiscing over our precious common Kenya heritage.
The Etheringtons’ “retirement” is an expanding program in the South Sea Islands. There they are fostering self-reliant development through community-based processing of coconut oil and its use in food and as a biofuel for diesel engines. See www.kokonutpacific.com.au
We were met in Auckland by KCMC colleagues Delight and Wally Rogers. They drove us on a two-day tour of virtual Hobbitland in the North Island. A particular delight was the Driving Creek Railroad, a charming mini-version of the Combres-Toltec type of ride.
Then to Christchurch for the Trans-Alpine Railway (as scenic as the Silverton RR). In Christchurch we stayed at the Victorian restoration Windsor Hotel and reveled in the Botanical Gardens which were in riotous spring (southern hemisphere) bloom. Sadly, in later years Christchurch was devastated by an earthquake.
Back north to Rotorua where Delight and Wally walked us through scenes of recent (1866, 1904) volcanic activity, wool craft and sheep-dog activities and the Maori experience.
We flew from Auckland over the Pacific to LA to Albuquerque where son Dan met us 12:30 AM. We had been gone 90 days, slept in about 30 beds and been on 15 airplanes and stayed in 7 countries. The only “glitches” of the entire trip were two relatively brief departure delays. Every single day produced at least one “special” memory or new encounter,
It was a most fitting celebration of sixty years of
the Lord’s kind hand upon our marriage.
Roy and Betty