"Live a good life, and in the end, it’s not the years in the life, it’s the life in the years."

‘That one day in   Africa changed my life’

By on December 28, 2016 in Uncategorized with 0 Comments

African school girls share their smiles.

By Connie Morris

For me, 2016 was full of amazing experiences.

I travelled to two continents, celebrated a monumental birthday with girlfriends, saw the world from tops of mountains and served as a delegate representing my community.

However, there is one day that stands out among the many days of extraordinary experiences.

My year of travel began with a long weekend in May in Las Vegas with girlfriends celebrating a 60th birthday. This was my first “girls only” trip and it did not disappoint. Truly, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.

In July I travelled to North Carolina to see family and spent a week in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

The heat and humidity of the day left me drenched in sweat, but in the cool evenings I was serenaded by a cacophony of sounds from the woods. The jungle-like music was enchanting.

In August, I hiked 21 miles through the Enchantments to leave my father in his final resting place.

A native of Leavenworth, my father knew every inch of those woods. It was powerful to walk in his steps and see our world from the heights of Aasgard Pass and Snow Lakes.

Two days later I left for Japan as a member of the Misawa delegation. I learned so much about Japanese culture and our valley’s connection to the people of Misawa. The flight of Miss Veedol was monumental and has bound our communities together forever.

In September I travelled to Africa to go on safari and climb Mount Kilimanjaro.

We left base camp for our final ascent up Kilimanjaro at midnight. It was a cloudless morning and the stars overhead were the brightest I have ever seen. Sometimes it was difficult to differentiate the stars from the headlamps of other climbers.

Our safari guide took us to the Masai Mara where he knew all the right places to view and photograph the animals of Kenya. Many times we were within feet of them. It was breathtaking to watch them in their natural habitat.

With all of these experiences, I have yet to come to my best day of 2016.

That day was the day I spent in the villages of the Masai Mara.

The day started with a crystal clear sunrise. We rode by Land Rover to a small village whose inhabitants live in dung huts. The dwellings have no light except for a small front door. We were here to deliver and install solar light kits to 10 lucky families.

All of my previous community service work did not prepare me for the outpouring of gratitude from these families. They were so happy for the simple gift of light that it left all of us in tears.

We then visited a school in the Mara. Many of the students lined up to greet us. With their shy smiles and brilliantly white teeth, they made us feel honored to be in their presence.

I was lucky enough to have one of them hand me a school book written in English and they asked me to read to them. Their giddy response left me with sights and sounds that I will never forget.

Finally, we travelled to a traditional Masai camp and were treated to a tour by the King’s son. He enlightened us to their traditions and way of life. A humbling experience to say the least.

If that wasn’t enough, our day finished with a lion prowling our camp.

My experience on that one day in Africa changed my life.

Among other things, I have a renewed appreciation for the many blessings we have in our beautiful valley.

Connie Field Morris is a community service volunteer and has worked in dentistry for 33 years. She is a wife, mother and grandmother who enjoys hiking, travelling and designing costumes for local productions.

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