A Merry Heart

Merry Heart
June 9, 2017

South Africa Part 1

Recently we, my husband and I had the privilege and opportunity to travel to South Africa and visit dear friends and missionaries.

There is SO much to share about our trip, and there are so many people asking for the details that, rather than showing photos and explaining everything a 100 times to various people, I thought of a better way to convey the blessings, adventures and misadventures of our travels: I will exploit the fact that I write for FAR and could use it for my own nefarious purposes—yeah, not really nefarious. I just like how that sounds: nefarious purposes.

I have no plans to draw this “series” of articles out past…say…40 or so, but I do want to share a couple of the more “interesting” and unusual exploits.   There were many.

When going overseas, it takes a lot of research and planning; we did the next best thing and let everyone else line things up.

Our conversation with our hosts went something like this:

“What do you want to do when you’re here?”

“We’re flexible; you know the area and all the places and activities. You pick!”

“Are you sure? Is there anything you know you don’t want to do?”

“Yes, we’re sure and no, there isn’t anything we aren’t willing to do!

Yeah, I guess that was too broad of a response and evidently they believed me when I said we would do whatever they planned.

Oh, but the day started wonderfully, predictable and relaxing: go to the beach, take some photos, do a little beach combing, have a cup of coffee—btw, coffee is hot, strong, delicious and CHEAP in SA. It soon turned ugly. Like I so foolishly insisted, our dear missionary friends indeed took us at our word and planned a “whatever” activity- “Sand sledding!”  “We’re going sand sledding,” our hosts announced.

My mind tried to sort that out? Okay, bobsledding, snow sledding. Didn’t they involve plummeting down steep hills to your death??? Sand…I simply couldn’t picture any scenario where I didn’t loose all my skin; even if I managed to stay on the sled—YIKES!! You did get to use a sled?? Even if I managed to say on, wouldn’t I get sandblasted by all the sand going down the hill?

The boat ride out to the sand dunes was beautiful, the scenery was stunning, and the weather was perfect! Well…this was good. I was in a better frame of mind, as we floated down the Sunday River. I looked along the shore, and as I snapped a few shots with my camera, I noticed the dunes weren’t very high, and they had nice gradual slopes. The tour guide had called them, “Majestic!” They didn’t look very majestic to me but maybe I was braver than I thought! Maybe I just had a higher tolerance for that kind of thing. Yep! I could do this! My courage burst forth and I started to feel like an, “Extreme Sportsman!” Yep! I can do this!

We rounded a bend, and saw, sticking straight out of the river, the tallest “sand dunes” I had ever seen! These were the instruments of my impending death. Majestic?! NO, they were MOUNTAINS—sand mountains: 300 ft.-high sand mountains…and STEEP!! If they looked that tall from where I was, I could only imagine how tall they were going to look staring straight down from the top, teetering on a little sled. Uh uh- no way- NO HOW!! I didn’t know how I was going to get out of it, but I was NOT going down that slide-to-death!!

If you want to find out if I…

  1. Attempted to go down the dune, but ended up buried up to my ankles, head first;
  2. Started riding the sled but ended by riding in the back of an ambulance;
  3. Fell up the hill—oh yeah, I do that;
  4. Made it safely down the hill and joined an extreme sandboarding gang…

read the August edition of A Merry Heart!