Happy Birthday Aphile

The birthday girl scouting for animals out of the top of the Land Rover

The birthday girl scouting for animals out of the top of the Land Rover

Zanele’s daughter Aphile turned 6 a few weeks ago, so we decided to celebrate by taking their whole family to a game park.  Unless they live in the Bush, most black South Africans have never seen African animals… Well, now Zanele, Aphile, and Nana have!!

A family from church loaned us their Land Rover for the day so we could all fit in the same car and go “off road.”  What an experience to drive on dirt trails and come upon these:

Five elephants were right next to our car!

Five elephants were right next to our car!

We caught the lions at nap time

We caught the lions at nap time

The animal Aphile most wanted to see was a zebra...how about a whole field of them?!

The animal Aphile most wanted to see was a zebra...how about a whole field of them?!

Aphile with our binoculars

Aphile with our binoculars

This was incredible - 12 giraffe surrounded our car.  They are HUGE!

This was incredible - 12 giraffe surrounded our car. They are HUGE!

None of us will forget these guys right next to us

None of us will forget these guys right next to us

The best part for me was watching Zanele, Nana, and Aphile’s faces when they caught their first glimpses of these animals.   Nana (age 19) said to me, “we are from here (meaning Africa), but we have never been HERE.”

After we returned from our adventure

After we returned from our adventure

Opening gifts back at their house

Opening gifts back at their house

I had learned from earlier conversations with Zanele that it is difficult for her when the seasons change because she can’t really afford new clothes for Aphile.   After some chocolate cake Aphile opened our presents – a “track suit” (sweat pants and sweat shirt), “trekkies” (sneakers), and play dishes.  Ahe looked beautiful in the pink outfit with matching sneakers (photo above).  She had Zanele help her open the gifts so they could carefully save the wrapping paper to reuse.  After, the girls went into the bedroom to play with the dishes, and with tears in her eyes Zanele said, “Thank you.  I wish my mother was alive to see this.”

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3 Responses to “Happy Birthday Aphile”


  1. 1 Elizabeth Leaton March 14, 2009 at 4:36 pm

    Thank you for sharing. Charles and I enjoyed the amazing animal and ocean photos, and seeing all the children you have met. We will pray for your housing situation and continued safety.

  2. 2 Angela March 14, 2009 at 10:45 pm

    What great pictures! And I’m glad you caught the lions at “naptime.” I hope Aphile had a wonderful birthday. Tell her she has a beautiful smile!

  3. 3 Emily March 16, 2009 at 8:07 pm

    What a beautiful treat for Aphile for her bday, to be able to celebrate doing something entirely new. It seems you are finding ways to bring smiles and make an impact. Keep looking for opportunities!


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