When we headed to Africa for a family safari, I had no idea what to really expect.
Usually YPO International Events get rave reviews or is it just people defending their elaborate purchases? After a nearly 20-hour flight from Louisville, Ky. (the idea capital of the world) to Johannesburg, South Africa, then another flight to the Kruger Bush on a small plane into a rural airport, and then a dusty and bumpy drive to our safari lodge with four kids and your wife, you start second-guessing your biggest, most ambitious vacation idea ever.
On the first evening, on our very first “game drive” near dusk, we were informed by radio that there was a large lion kill where they fought against a tough buffalo for nearly a day before the buffalo finally succumbed to the repeat attacks that left it immobile as the four male lions took its life.
As our Land Rover raced to the site with our family, fellow passengers, and our rangers and spotters, my heart raced thinking what this could be. As we turned down winding, disheveled roads and cleared a large hill cutting through the bush, there it was…
Four male lions were surrounding this massive beast (a 1,200-lb. buffalo) with two biting out huge chunks of flesh, organs and cartilage in single bites. The other male was biting into the flesh so hard that as he rose up, the entire buffalo’s body would lift off the ground. Our vehicle pulled up within 20 yards to sit quietly and witness the ‘King of the Jungle,’ the ‘Pride of the Serengeti,’ gorge themselves until two were laying stretched out with protruding stomachs and falling asleep while we watched the other two tear through a large animal, which could feed my family for a year.
Here we were, all my young children watching the raw power of natural law, Darwin’s ’Survival of the Fittest,’ feeling the power of God’s creation from the beginning of time right here in Africa; I started to ponder. How did humanity survive in the first place, in this brutal area where we had to hide in caves, fight the elements, guard our children with a 50/50 chance they would even see adulthood because of constant attacks by jaguars, lions, wildebeests, hyenas, etc.?
It is amazing to sit this close and watch the beauty and brutality of nature, and the food chain we learn about in parochial schools, but how much do we owe our ancestors and their ability to persevere, innovate and just evolve over time to be the temporary winners of civilization just like God planned?
As the jeeps rode off into the sunset and I looked back, I thought about the Bible’s Creation Story and the study of evolution, knowing they were both somehow true!
We cheered, prayed, and cried often over the past years, but learned three great lessons from Stephen that we all cherish today.