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Sunday, November 20, 2011

How Romans 8:28 works In South Carolina to South Africa

How Romans 8:28 WORKS

I have never considered myself lucky. I am blessed. I have been blessed to have born into a good family, to have married into a good family, and to have grown up in the Aynor area. So many blessings I cannot list them all. However, one blessing stands above all the others. Friends.
I have never believed in luck. Probably because I don't believe the creator leaves anything to chance. My favorite verse in the bible is Romans chapter eight verse twenty-eight. " God causes all things to work together for the good of those who love him and are called according to his purpose." I prefer to believe that God is in control and that he has a plan. Somewhere in his infinite wisdom God planned for me to become friends with Bob Cody.
About seven years ago, on one of the worst days of my life, I met Bob. At a jobsite, I got a phone call telling me my wife, Jill, was in the hospital. Additionally the contractor was really pressuring me to finish before I left. As I was packing up to leave, Bob came up and asked for my help with a temporary power pole. I was reluctant, since I needed to get to the hospital right away, but something told me to help him. After helping him for only about 20 minutes, I left for the hospital expecting never to hear from him again. A week later, to my surprise he called me to do some electrical work. Since then, he and I have done many projects together. Besides being one of the best business relationships I have ever made, we have become great friends. He, along with his wife, Mary have treated me like family every since I have known them. This past year as I built my home, Bob helped me every step of the way.
Around Christmas of 2006, while we worked on Tan yer Hide, (Bob and Mary's state of the art tanning salon), he told me I would have to wait on my Christmas present. When Bob called me in January and told me he wanted tell me what my Christmas present was, I had almost forgotten about it. He told me to clear my calendar the first week in February we were going to a hunting and fishing show. I said " Wow what a great gift". He told me that was not the gift. The gift he said was an African Safari. I was beside myself. After going to the Harrisburg , Pa sportsman show, we went to Bob's parents home in Williamsport, Maryland. Again I was welcomed as one of the family. If there is a sweeter than Bob's mother I have never met her. His father and brother are the salt of the earth. Here we meet Chris Bolton of Zungah Safaris. Chris assured me I would have the time of my life in South Africa. Now exited, all I had to do was wait, a year and half. Our trip was set for April 23 through May 9 2008. It would not come quick enough. All I think about was Africa.
On April 23 we had traveled to Dulles International airport, Washington, D.C.
As we boarded the South African Airline jet, I hoped I was prepared for the journey .Bob, Mary, his father, mother, and brother all seemed to be. One comfort was that Bob's father is true outdoors man. He had successfully hunted dangerous game like Brown bear. He had been to South Africa before. My plan was stick close to Bob's dad. It woorked I am still alive. Without being sure of what to expect, I set out on a 14 hour, 9000 mile trip across the Atlantic. It was funny to think as we left at 6.00pm on Wednesday it was already Thursday where we were going. Since South Africa is in the Southern hemisphere, we were leaving spring to go into fall. As the sun came up, I could see the desert below us. What seemed to be a sea of sand went on as far as the eye could see. It almost two hours before we went out over the ocean again. Finally we landed in Johannesburg. The next flight was only one and half hours to Port Elizabeth. Chris Bolton and Arnold Slabbert from Zungah Safaries picked us up. I remember feeling exceedingly fortunate to live in America, as we passed the worst living conditions I have ever seen. Complicating this matter was the fact that gas is better than $6 per gallon. Many businesses and some homes were surrounded by razor wire for fear of thieves. Arnold gave us a brief summary of the history and current events effecting Africa as we headed out of town. I don't think we passes another vehicle for 50 miles. We arrived at the lodge at about 11 pm Thursday night. Secluded would best describe the area we would be hunting.
Friday morning Chris woke us for at about 5 am. His staff had prepared delicious breakfast complete with fresh baked bread. Afterwards, I watched a spectacular sunrise above the mountains. This awesome view of God's beautiful creation overwhelmed me. I did not miss a sunrise or sunset while I was in Africa. Although we were supposed to be hunting, I must admit the view distracted me for the first couple of days. Bob's hunting guide, Noel Ross, repeatedly keep telling me that I was not on a photographic safari.
This was not a bait and ambush style hunt. The hunting was very exciting. It was nothing if not physically challenging. Windy conditions, treacherous terrain, and incredible cover all made stalking these animals a challenge. Coupled with their extraordinary senses and intelligence stacked the odds definitely in the animals favor. It was four days before I would take my first trophy, an impala. The first of three trophies I would take, the impala had broken the ice. I was the last person would had not made a kill. With the pressure finally off, I was able to concentrate on the hunt from this point on. The next two days brought me two nice trophies. The bushbuck, considered the most dangerous antelope of Africa actually charged me after my shot. I was mighty happy to see it fall. The cape kudu, one the most sought after trophies in Africa, proved to be the hardest animal. Finally, I took the animal nicked named "the gray ghost", on the most adventurous hunt a man could ask for.
At the lodge Chris's staff prepare a feast from the game we had killed. The food was to die for. At night, I enjoyed sitting around the fire and listening to the hunting guides. They told the most amazing stories. Noel told of how he once had tracked a leopard for three days. In order to explain my commitment to a hunt, I told how I had tracked Jill for eight years. We laughed alot, shared stories, and made memories that will no doubt last a lifetime.
The night sky was utterly magnificent. Being far from all artificial light sources, gives one an added appreciation for the stars. I could see much more depth into the galaxy. It was my first opportunity see the Southern Cross and Centarus ( not visible in the Northern Hemisphere) . I remembered that Psalm 19 said," the heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handiwork. The nights were incredible.
After hunting both the cape and coastal plains of South Africa, we toured the country. Our first stop was Addo National Elephant Park. We saw many wild animals in their natural habitat. Next we visited an ostrich farm. Where Bob, Mary and myself all tried our hand at riding an ostrich. Bob, by far, was the best rider. However, we all equally enjoyed the ostrich steak. Along our 1000 mile trek across the country we passed many waterfalls. We also visited many of wineries South Africa is so famous for. We enjoyed sampling the wine. Many of the wineries were surrounded by beautiful gardens. Each night we stayed in a different bed and breakfast. My favorite was at Lands End, were the Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet. The surf came about fourteen feet from my window. It was the best nights sleep I have ever experienced. The views were nothing short of spectacular. The food was remarkable. I felt as if I was on the lifestyles of the rich and famous.
Bob, feeling the need to be adventurous, decided to book us on some more exciting activities. "You only live once," he said. So we visited the dunes on the coast of Capetown where we went sand boarding. We all took turns down mountains of sand. Despite all our mishaps we made it without injury. Due to the weather, our plans to skydive over Cape Town was cancelled. Disappointing as it was, I was determined to find another exciting memory to create. I suggested we go shark cage diving. Bob and Mary answered the challenge but there was only room for one. Since they knew I really wanted to go they let me have the spot. I left for Seal Island in South Africa's False Bay long before the sun came up. Seven miles from the shore in an area dubbed as the " ring of death" , I watched the great whites breach in aerial acrobatics attacking cape fur seals. Then after the crew lured them closer to the boat, I entered the 47 degree water into a cage for an up close viewing. The largest sharks was 18 feet and came within arms reach of the cage. The shark cage was the absolute highlight of my trip. A memory I will always treasure.
We boarded the plane to return home, I was anxious to see Jill, and my girls. I wanted to tell them of the beauty and splendor I had seen. That night I looked out the window of the jet. I could see the ocean briefly below me, only when the distant the lightning flashed. I was still searching for a tid bit of the excitement and beauty I was leaving behind. I watched the sun rise above the clouds from my window. I knew it was a final spectacle for a once in a lifetime adventure but I would always have memories of Africa in my heart . I thought how fortunate I was. how blessed I had been, and how differently I would look on life now. I wondered how different things might have been if I had not taken the time to help Bob seven years ago. I thought about how happy I am God leaves nothing to chance.
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