Just among friends
Wednesday, October 3, 2012 1:00 AM
Listening to Roberta Byars deliver her inspirational acceptance speech at the 59th annual Community Development Partnership banquet, upon being recognized as the Outstanding Citizen for 2012, I was reminded of an amazingly adult revelation our 12-year-old grandson, Charles Harold Evans, shared with me at the Fair this year.
"Life is a challenge to be savored; it's not an obstacle to be avoided."
Roberta has taken all the "bad pitches" life has thrown at her and with her determination and God's grace, is living a life to be savored and admired by all of us.
Max Loper and his sister, Jeannine Loper Hughes of Byram, returned this past weekend to the farm from whence they came for a family reunion.
Tom Loper and his wife, Myrtle Johnson Loper, raised their children on a farm about three miles from Walnut Grove, south toward Forest on Highway 35.
Max and Jeannine attended school at Harperville.
The family has grown to include Max and Betty Loper's family, Dana and Lane Moseley of Greenwood, La. (near Shreveport), Todd and Tiffany Loper, Kara and Alain Kabore and Abby and Ryan Jenkins, all of Philadelphia and their families.
Jeannine and Bill Hughes' children, Sally Shaw, Teresa Lowe and Tommy Hughes and their families added to the family happy gathering "back on the farm."
The Neshoba County Fair's "Longhorn Lodge" made a statement at the recent gridiron meeting of the University of Mississippi and the University of Texas on the Ole Miss campus.
Along with some friends, Bill and Leigh Stubbs of Houston, Texas, hosted a tent in the Grove, "An experience like none other," quoting Leigh.
"Maybe a little like the Fair," said Andrea and Carroll Sunseri of Galveston, who attended the Fair 15 years straight as guests of Bill's parents, Steve and Ann Stubbs.
The Stubbs cabin on Sunset Strip "turned orange" and adopted its Texas logo while Ann and Steve were living in Galveston and their children, Bill, Stephanie and Leanne and now their grandson, Matthew, attended the University of Texas.
Andrea and Carroll came for an "in-town" visit with Ann and Steve en route to the ballgame.
Quoting Dr. Bill Molpus, "Three trips to Africa in a period of four months is a bit much for anyone my age!"
At last, he is talking like an ordinary human being!
And then he continues, "But for me it was exhilarating!"
I will admit that the non-stop, 16-hour flight from Atlanta to Johannesburg is tough and especially for me since I cannot sleep on the plane.
Clem picks me up at the airport and takes me to the hotel.
The next day I leave for my week's safari in Krugen National Park in South Africa.
August in South Africa is cold as it is their winter time.
A week before I arrived in Jo-burg, it had snowed.
The first time in fifty years.
Oh well, I am here and I will enjoy the cold.
That first morning at 6 a.m. as we begin that first game drive in the open safari vehicle, my joy abruptly came to an end. I was freezing!
Is it worth this to see animals in the wild?
I could just an easily see them in a zoo! (Another sign of human normalcy).
There were seven of us in the vehicle, plus our guide/driver.
A family of six from France, plus myself.
My stereo typical idea of the French was quickly eliminated as we became friends.
Their good-natured conversation set the stage for an enjoyable week.
This affluent family had three teens who were a joy to be with.
They were bright, respectful and excited to see wild animals.
My Millsaps French failed me completely, but their excellent English saved the day.
Dinner was outside in a semi-enclosed space around a huge fire.
Every night I sat at a table with two young Italian couples and we had a ball.
My Italian miraculously rose up from the past.
Words that I have not used in years appeared in my broken sentences.
These families travel together every August and have been to the USA several times.
August is vacation time for the Italians and much of the country closes down, except, of course, for those involved in the tourist industry.
The conversation was always centered around the events of the day.
What did you see today?
Obviously, the purpose of these safaris is to see as many of the Big Five as you can see.
A successful safari is seeing "all" of the Big Five.
The Big Five includes the elephant, lion, cape buffalo, leopard and rhinoceros.
Luckily, for us, our first game drive on the night we arrived at the lodge yielded a most unusual scene of six rhinoceros, two of which were fighting.
Looks like this safari is off to a good start.
And indeed it proved to be extremely successful.
Not only did we see all the Big Five, but we saw a pride of cheetahs and a pack of painted dogs.
Sightings of the painted dogs are extremely rare and that, of course, added to the success of our safari.
After hugs and kisses to the French and Italians, I leave for the journey to Johannesburg.
Overnight there and then to the airport to meet the team of Hands For Hope and from there, fly to New London, South Africa.
And there we will meet Dr. Bill Molpus next week, the dedicated dental missionary who firmly believes it necessary to stop and enjoy
God's wonders along life's way.