Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christmas in my heart, as is Africa

I can't believe it's been a year since my last post. I guess that comes with the territory. But I wanted to share something we've done for Christmas.

We had been discussing the holidays a while ago, and thinking maybe rather than traditional gifting to each other, we'd like to do something different. Mom came across an idea - to gift a goat. Through some research (thank you, Alton Brown), we discovered Heifer International, an organization dedicated to ending world hunger through some amazing sustainable methods (like local community involvement, gift animals that can "pass along" to others through offspring, etc.). More research confirmed that this is an outstanding organization (shout out to my friends who helped - you know who you are!).

My correspondence with Heifer was wonderful. A particularly helpful gentleman, Tom, guided us through the process. In short order, we had made our pledge to sponsor the cost of two dairy goats, one for a project in Kenya, and the other in Tanzania (obviously we're drawn to these locations, but there is a need for so much throughout the continent). We just received the gift cards and notes in the mail, and they are awesome. We are so excited to share with friends and loved ones how we are helping a community through a gift that absolutely will keep on giving!

And of course, I think we've made some more friends. I explained to Tom how, particularly at Christmas, are hearts and minds travel back to the Micato safari experience, and how life-changing it was. Mom is drawn to it as much as Betsy and I are, even though she shared the experience not first-hand, but through our stories, pictures, and shared emotions (I've said before, she was with us every day, truly).

Tom was so excited to hear this, he quickly read through my blog and shared it with everyone at at Heifer. And perhaps we'll meet in passing through Serengeti some day, who knows?

So, on this Christmas season, may I recommend anyone looking for something different, check out Heifer International - you can't go wrong. And as always, when you feel the pull of Africa, go with Micato. They remain family to this day, and will be family always.

At Christmas, I find myself thinking what it would be like to wake up that morning to the sounds of the wild - maybe the hippos returning from their nocturnal adventures, or even a hyrax (!) offering an early greeting. I can imagine it, seeing the sun rise off the horizon, the reds and blues and pinks spreading over the grasses, the wind blowing through the trees. Then I realize I can be there every morning, and often I do find myself thinking back at what those mornings were like. I know Mom can close her eyes and she is back in Alaska. I do that, too. When I close my eyes I can see Kilimanjaro as bright and clear as if I were in Amboseli right now. Four years later (?!), it still moves me. I know it was a powersful experience, simply b/c I can't talk about it without getting emotional. It's the only thing that's ever done that to me.

So this Christmas morning, I will take a moment, close my eyes, see Kili, and say thank you, God, for bestowing such a blessing on me, and on us. I thank you for your gifts, and I pray that I can share with others in 2012, and beyond.

And may the spirit of Christmas be with each and every person, (and goat, and leopard, and elle), from North America, to Africa and beyond. Peace be with you.

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