It is Thursday afternoon and we have had three incredible days to tell you about, Monday – Wednesday. It is hard to put into words what we saw and experienced.
Monday – we journeyed to the Great Zimbabwe. This is a historical site which was occupied by the Shona people from the 11th century until the 15th. It has some amazing architecture and constructions. It is divided into three parts. The first is atop a huge rock formation. It is series of chambers, each one drawing closer to the king, who occupied this part of the community. One of the neatest parts was where regal and religious events took place. There was a bowl with granite rock which has been carved into roughly the size of our bricks. (The whole complex is so constructed.) High above the assembly area was a grand stone upon which the king sat to pass judgments, meet with lesser kings, and observe religious events. We went up there and looked down. Many were uneasy at the height. Other chambers included where he lived, a fortune-teller place, and several others.
We came down from atop the rock and went to the area of the junior wives’ dwelling area. All that was left was the wall that divided it from other sections. But there was a sample village build in the area where one could see houses, and listen to music and dance from the Shona tradition. There were items to buy. From there we made our way to the First Wife’s chamber.
It was the newest and largest portion of the complex. I had seen pictures of the site before I left the states and this is what I remember seeing. Walls were 6 meters thick at the bottom and 3 at the top. At some points the wall was like 15 meters tall. There were four entrances, one for the king to visit (via an underground passage), one for junior wives to do their duties, one for young girls to come to learn how to be brides, and one for what I assume was servants and other workers. Below I have a Wikipedia link for more info.
Tuesday and Wednesday we spent at a game reserve, a huge area set aside for the protection of Zimbabwe’s magnificent wildlife. During our time there we saw giraffe, zebra, impala (lots and lots of impalas), elephant, waterbuck, kudu, another smaller antelope, elephants, crocodiles, and hippos. We camp in a tented area with glamourous tented cabins. The word ‘glamping’ is applied. Our camp overlooked the Runde River. There were a number of hippos in the area and one was just below our veranda when we awoke. In the evening we heard hyena and Mark and I actually saw one. He passed maybe within 20 feet of us and was as startled as we were that we were there. Early in the morning, we could hear lions passing near our camp site returning across the river after hunting all night.
Not only were the animals amazing but also the country. This is the dry season but there has been a bit of rain so things were not totally dry yet. Beside the large animals there were many butterflies, and other birds and insects. A few flowers remained. We climbed hills, visited some indescribable viewpoints. We forded a river, not because we needed to, but because it was there and Mark thought I ought to experience driving across. Of course, I have, in Haiti, but it was still a grand experience. At night listening to crickets, other insects, the birds, and hippos and watching the sky makes the evening special. It was a near full moon so the stars were not as abundant as other night skies we have seen, but provided light for river life throughout the night. Love is not a strong enough word to describe the experience. Shelton people will be seeing some of the scenes from there my first Sunday back.
It is hard to put into words exactly what we felt and saw in these two placed. The psalmist said, “A fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’” Just watching the connection between plant and animal, between animal and animal, and to see how poor a job man in general does being stewards of God’s marvelous creation brings me to a moment of worship.
Today, I had more IT work and Sherry and Ne’a painting at the village. We also start packing up the things that return to Washington with us. Tomorrow will be a quick trip back to Chingami, our other Zimbabwe home, to visit with the headmen we met there and then home to finish packing. Saturday it is off to Harare after our goodbyes here. Bitter-sweet those are sure to be. I have morning devotions which will give me opportunity to offer our many thanks and express our love and joy for those who are Hippo Valley Christian Mission. Sunday is souvenir hunting for back home, Covid tests and assuming we all pass, Monday we fly home. Tuesday is arrival day, 5:00 pm.
This will be my final journal entry from Africa. This computer is staying behind, continuing to assist the ministry here. One final entry will be posted on Tuesday or Wednesday. I have enjoyed writing these as they will help me remember important things and keep straight events which are already beginning to blur. There is work to be done at home, so home we come. Thanks to everyone who read these entries and I hope they have given at least a tiny piece of what we experienced here. May God bless this place, this ministry and those we leave behind. We have new friends and brothers and sisters in Christ and in life. We have been truly enriched by our time here.
Check out the Great Zimbabwe – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Zimbabwe