Happy New Year! We find it very hard to believe that it is 2012. The past 6-8 weeks have been a blur for us and we are left wondering where the time has gone. The office is closed, the day centers are closed, and we spent much of last week on safari. So, needless to say, we did not get much done as far as work goes. We did, however, have a wonderful safari with John’s family. For most of this update we will show you our experience on safari over Christmas.

In the “Through Their Eyes” section we will write about Upendo, a child who attends the day center at Karanga 1. In the “Inspirational Tid-Bits” section we will write about a wonderful gesture from an individual whom lives in our compound.

Below is a picture of John’s family at the Ngorongoro Crater, where we spent Christmas Day. We spent the month of December with his parents, John and Nancy. His sister Grete came a week before Christmas. As part of their trip they wanted to go on safari. We decided that it would be great to go on safari over Christmas. Our safari driver friend, Jesse, (check out his new website at www.naendasafaris.com) was gracious enough to leave his family during Christmas and give us a fabulous tour of Tanzania. Along with the Ngorongoro Crater, we also visited the Serengeti National Park and Tarangire National Park.

It’s very difficult to see rhinos in Tanzania. Due to poaching, about 30 rhinos remain in Tanzania. We were lucky enough to see 6 rhinos (although they were far away!) in the Ngorongoro Crater on Christmas Day!

It had been raining a lot before we started safari. Jesse, our safari friend and guide for all of our safaris, said that many of the lions decided to hang out in trees to stay away from the bugs and the wet grass!

We saw so many giraffes on this safari!

When most people go on safari they want to see lions, cheetahs, leopards, or other animals that are difficult to see; John’s dad wanted to see one wildebeest! Needless to say, he saw thousands – perhaps millions – of wildebeest. The photo below is of the wildebeest migrating. This is the season for the wildebeest to migrate to the crater and have their babies. They sure can run!

We saw a lot of hippos on this safari as well! We caught some in action this time. We learned that hippos are very territorial. In fact, if a hippo from outside of their pod comes into their territory they often kill the outsider.

The highlight of the safari was when we saw a leopard playing in the tree! Most of the time leopards sleep during the day because they hunt at night. It was raining this particular day and the leopard was awake and very active. He was playing with a sausage fruit from the sausage tree that he was in. We think we watched him play for at least 30 minutes! It was like watching a house cat or dog play with a toy! Leopards are vicious animals so this was fun to see! He was also very close to the road. We estimate that he was no further than 20 yards away from our vehicle!

Overall, it was a phenomenal safari. We returned to Moshi and John’s family flew home New Year’s Eve. It was wonderful to have them for the month of December. We feel so blessed that we have families that are interested in our projects and willing to sacrifice to visit us. We returned home after dropping John’s family off at the airport to an empty home for the first time in nearly 6 weeks. It is quiet in the house now, but it is nice to have some time to catch up on sleep and get ready for Rich and Barb’s arrival!

We hope everyone had a happy holiday season!


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