First of all, almost all of our pictures from our vacation are up! Just follow the link at the top of our blog and check them out.
We had a WONDERFUL time with my parents. I know I should have been writing things down as we went along, but I was too busy just trying to enjoy each moment. I am going to try to think back now and touch on some of the highlights of our time together.
Our trip to Blyde River Canyon, which I already wrote about, was a definite highlight. We are so thankful that we could see another part of this amazing country and it was a blessing to be able to share the adventure with my parents. After we got back from that trip, we took some time to just live our “normal” life and include my parents in this life as much as possible. That meant many visits across the road to Tshepo Ya Bana to hold babies and watch the kids swim, a few trips out to Mama Cathrine, grocery shopping, and sitting out in the sun. We tried to do some home schooling, but it was hard to get into a routine when there were presents to be opened and games of Skip-Bo to be played.
We did go on a lot of game drives with my parents. We’d either head out around 6:30 or 7 in the morning or around 5:30 at night. We saw so many amazing things; 3 rhino less than 60 feet away, huge kudu with their twirly horns, giraffe, ostrich, eland and more. We also saw lots of baby animals; little jackals peeking out of their den, baby giraffe, young ostrich, little warthogs running with their tails up in the air and more. Towards the end of my parents’ trip, we were going on a game drive every day. We are so glad we were able to share with them the beauty that is all around us.
The Monday after we got back from Blyde River, we headed to Bela Bela. More specifically we went to the Forever Resorts, where we enjoyed swimming in the heated pools and zooming down the waterslides. Darin and I had taken the kids to Bela Bela in 2008 and it was the one thing they both continued to talk about when we returned to the states, even years later. My mom and I took time for a massage, my dad spent lots of time checking out the birds, and the kids loved watching the Discovery Channel in our chalet. Mythbusters, Man vs Wild and more! Bela Bela was just as fun as we had remembered and someday we will go back!
You’d think that I’d have gobs and gobs more to write about the time with my parents, but there were times where we weren’t even doing anything and it was still fun. It was just so wonderful to be with people who know us and love us. The kids LOVED having their Papa and Gram here. They did a little home school program for them, read with them, played doctor and dentist, caught bugs, chased down butterflies for Papa, cuddled and more. My mom hung laundry, made Dutch meatball soup, baked s’more bars, washed windows and more. My dad planted a garden, swept and mopped, made applesauce, climbed trees and taught my kids to enjoy the little things that surround us.
The time we spent together was such a blessing. I knew it would be hard to say goodbye, but I didn’t realize that it would throw me into such a funk! Having my parents here reminded me of what we have given up in coming to live in South Africa, which is close relationships with people who know us and have walked with us for a good chunk of our lives. Being with my parents for three weeks was such a blessing, and even knowing how hard the goodbye has been, I wouldn’t have given up any of the time we spent together. Now that the sharp pain of goodbye has worn off a bit, I am able to look at pictures or think back to certain moments and be reminded of the love that we share with them, and also the love that we share with others who are far from us. I know this post might make it seem like we spent a lot of time not doing anything, but I don’t really know how to put all the things we shared that made the visit so special into words. The hugs, laughter, smiles, tears, seeing grandparents love on grandchildren and grandchildren bask in the attention from their grandparents. While the big things we shared together, like hiking to waterfalls, jumping into canyons, venturing into dark caves, zooming down waterslides, seeing rhino and giraffe, were a wonderful part of the three weeks we had together, it’s the little things that are harder to put into words that have stuck with me more.
Papa and Gram, we miss you!! Thank you for making the long journey to see us. We pray that you will be able to come again soon!