Lessons learned on the Mara

I’ve been mulling over my time in Kenya, thinking about what God taught me while there. As we were driving back to Nairobi from our safari, I was already realizing a few lessons to take to heart. Here’s the first; I will add more in coming days.

Lesson #1: Trust your guide.

One of my all time favorite books is Hinds’ Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard. I have re-read this book countless times because of the lessons learned. In style, it is quite similar to The Pilgrim’s Progress – the main character, Much-Afraid, is walking her journey to the High Places. The Shepherd (a.k.a. Jesus) assigns her two guides. At first, Much-Afraid does not like her guides at all – they seem ominous and gloomy to her. But as her journey continues, she learns to trust them and depend on them. By the end of the story, she realizes just how important they were to the success of her journey.hfohp

That is how I felt about our guide on our safari. At first, I wasn’t too sure about Julius. He didn’t seem to know how to maneuver through Nairobi. It took us two hours longer to get to the Mara than we had anticipated. And just as we left the tarmac (paved) road to begin the long, arduous journey on dirt roads, he got us stuck in a hole.

And I don’t mean just stuck (like rock the car a few times and you’re out), I mean STUCK. We were in the puddle so deep that we couldn’t open the back doors or the muddy water would have flooded the back of the Land Rover. He was spinning our wheels deeper and deeper.

After we offered to get out – silly us, we thought that might help – he continued to sink the truck deeper into the pit. Finally, another safari truck ambled along. Our rescuer pulled right up to our truck and pushed it back and out of the hole. While I was watching from the side, I saw the front left tire spinning in thin air as the rest of the truck was straining to catch firm dirt. Shortly, we were all back in the truck and on our way again.

As I said, at first, I wasn’t too sure about Julius.

But by the time our safari was coming to an end, I came to appreciate his depth of knowledge of the Mara. He learned the guiding trade from his father who had been a guide many years ago. Julius would go out with his father on game drives and learn from him. Then, he went to further schooling to learn more about his trade. Julius could answer every single question we peppered him with – whether it was about the Big Five (hippos, rhinos, elephants, lions, buffalo) or the smallest rodents, whether it was birds or flowers. Julius knew his stuff.DSCN0688DSCN0776

He also knew how to protect us. The Mara seems like such a peaceful place, but the reality is this is the wild. Lions, cheetahs, leopards and hyena are constantly on the hunt for their next meal.  We were within petting distance of lions and cheetahs more than once. I quickly developed a deep trust in Julius that he would keep us safe. He knew that we could be very close to these predators while they were resting, but when our truck was between the lions, he quickly moved us to a safer place.

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This cheetah walked right next to our truck, paused in the road, and then kept going.
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This male lion along with his pride of lionesses and cubs walked right past our truck to continue their mid-day napping.

 

Julius showed us the many wonders of God’s created world. He also treated us lavishly. He knew that his role as our guide was to serve us. On our sunset game drive, he had driven around the rains and then came to a stop. We all wondered what had happened – there were no animals near us to look at. He said we had a flat tire, so being the good farm girls we were, Lynette and I started to look to see which tire needed the help. By the time we had gone all the way around the truck, he had gotten out a picnic basket with a bottle of wine and wine glasses for us to share together. We all got a good laugh out of the flat tire that needed a medium size stone to help fix it!! Julius made our time on the Mara so special.

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Lynette and Julius after his “flat tire” ruse.

 

As I think about how Julius fulfilled his role as our guide, I think of how the Holy Spirit has been called our guide, our counselor. The Holy Spirit, being fully God, is the only One that has full knowledge of who I am, how I am created, and what my purpose is. If I want to ask help or advice from someone, who better than the Holy Spirit? The Holy Spirit, being fully God, has 100% of God’s power available to shield me from evil, to protect me from Satan’s attacks, to rescue me from danger. If I need help in any situation, who better than the Holy Spirit to protect me. The Holy Spirit has the unique role in the Trinity of living within believers. As such, He is there to help us and serve us – not in the sense that I command Him around, but that He shows me the wonders of God’s created world. He also intercedes for me at the throne of God (Romans 8). The Holy Spirit makes my life on earth more special than if I were to live without Him in my life.

Julius, thank you for being our guide on the Mara. You taught me far more than just facts about lions and giraffes. I pray that the same Holy Spirit I learn from in my daily life would be in your life too. You were a great guide for the Mara – the Holy Spirit is the BEST guide for LIFE.

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Micah and I share a photo with Julius as we are leaving the Mara to head back to Nairobi.

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One thought on “Lessons learned on the Mara

  1. Great message Barb. Thanks for sharing so eloquently. I thank God that you had this wonderful experience and that you were kept safe.

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