A travelog of Zimbabwe

Journal entry by Loretta Beyer — Feb. 23, 2021

Come with me on a mini travelog of Zimbabwe.

Many years ago, the Italians, through an incredible feat of engineering, built a massive dam across the Zambezi River, creating the largest manmade lake in the world.

As we approach that wonder of the world, we are able to drive on top of the dam wall, it is so wide and strong.

Later, we will take a sundowner cruise along the Zambezi River, comfortably ensconced in an open, flat boat, sipping and snacking, watching the wildlife that appears as we meander downstream. Watch out for “bumps” in the water line, as they could be crocodiles or hippos, in for their evening dinner. Especially do not startle or anger the latter, lest they attack and try to overturn your craft, which has been known to happen.

Near Victoria Falls, we are privileged to view a crocodile farm, where we can hold baby crocodiles if we are brave enough. Crocodile farms are part of conservation efforts to control the crocodile population, although, lately, it has grown totally out of hand. They go out into the wild and cull a certain amount of eggs along the riverbank, keep them incubated at the same temperature as the soil from which they pluck them and then hatch them, returning 50% to the wild, and turning the rest into meat for restaurants or to wildlife parks, or harvesting their hides to turn into bags, belts and shoes. The one we are visiting today has several older crocodiles in various pens, and my favorite warning sign says, “Anyone throwing rubbish inside this enclosure will be asked to go and retrieve it.”

Next, we will visit a wildlife game park in South Africa, where they breed exotic animals for sale to other game reserves or parks, for either photographic or hunting safaris. They raise such animals as lions, white tiger, black impala, giraffe, sable, kudu, and more. The farms are comprised of many acres, with wide open spaces where the animals are free to roam.

In Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe, is a snake park, which is breathtaking to observe. Down in the pit is a huge assortment of deadly snakes, such as the boom slang, python, green mamba, puff adders, and more. During a showing, some brave soul goes down there with a long pole and lifts each one up for viewing, and, to get them to bite into a glass in order to “milk” them — a hazardous occupation indeed! Of course, in Africa, we consider all snakes to be deadly poisonous.

The wildlife sanctuary of Mana Pools is a favorite place to visit. No firearms are allowed, and you camp in the wild among the natural wildlife there.

Several years ago, my sister-in-law, Susan, was sitting high up on the riverbank, working on her computer, and my brother had come up from fishing at the river. When he neared his truck, a procession of elephant cows and babies were close by. A rogue male elephant felt threatened by him and started to charge, opening his ears and trumpeting loudly. John rebuked him in Jesus’ name and commanded him to leave, at which point he went over to Susan and put his tusks on either side of her head. Susan instinctively froze into a little ball and prayed. Another man ran up with a flare in order to try and scare it away. Eventually, the elephant miraculously withdrew carefully, not even touching Susan — although she thought perhaps that was the end of her life — and left her. Only a week prior, an elephant had gored another lady there!

The final stop for today will be to attend an evangelistic meeting where my dad was preaching to a crowd on the ground under a tree. A sound system would be set upon his truck, with a generator for power. My dad holds his Shona Bible and boldly proclaims the good news from it.

You can see for yourself how charismatic and gifted an evangelist he was, especially with the teenage youth, always using African parables to best relate to them and explain nuggets of truth from His word.

He tells the story of the trap they would set to keep the baboons and monkeys out of their corn fields. They would hollow out a pumpkin, insert a handful of seeds through an opening just large enough for the monkey to insert its hand, but only if it was empty. When it had its fist around those seeds, it could no longer withdraw it, the application being, “would you forfeit a few crumbs from this world to save your life?”

What a beautiful country — oh, the precious memories. What a rich tapestry.

This column is published posthumously with permission from the family. Missionary kid Loretta Beyer grew up in Zimbabwe. After graduating college in the U.S. with a degree in music and psychology, she joined her parents in Alpena, because of terrorist warfare in her African home. Over the last 40 years, she has made Alpena her place of ministry.


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