Perkins School of Theology in South Africa 2015

Eleven students from SMU’s Perkins School of Theology with faculty leader Dr. Evelyn L. Parker, associate dean for Academic Affairs and professor of Practical Theology, are participating in a May 17-31 South Africa immersion course through the Perkins Global Theological Education Program (GTE). During their time in South Africa, they will explore ministries of Christian hope “in practice” via engagement with the people of South Africa in Johannesburg, Pretoria, and Cape Town.

Members of the group will share their experiences, including reflections and photographs, here on the SMU Adventure blog during the trip.

The Perkins Global Theological Education Program (GTE) prepares Christian leaders for complex cultural experiences through seminars and significant immersion experiences in other cultures. Students learn to build intercultural relationships, resolve cultural conflicts and guide intercultural ventures.

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Nature, up close and incredible

Pilanesberg National Park

Pilanesberg National Park

Today’s reflection is from Perkins student Sadie Brink, Master of Divinity degree candidate (2017):

After the emotionally and physically exhausting day yesterday, today was a respite. Today is safari day! We all had a relaxing morning that allowed for an extra hour of sleep (very much appreciated!).

Over breakfast Glen, Charles, Kantrice, Matt, Dr. Parker, and I had a great discussion about children and their role in the church and communion, and finding ways to get them involved so that they want to be a part of worship in and outside of the church. I think one of my favorite things about the trip thus far has been the various discussions that we have had around the dinner table. So much fellowship happens when we break bread together.

After some free time that I spent trying to process all that we have encountered and experienced so far, it was time to leave for the safari! This is the fulfillment of a childhood dream for me, and it is safe to say that everyone was really excited about it.

It was a three-hour drive to the Pilanesberg National Park, and on the way we stopped at a huge market. The market was quite the experience. I would say that there were at least 100 different booths, but nobody made it very far in because we were bombarded with sellers trying to get us to buy their stuff. It is definitely an experience I have never had before.

Everything there was up for bartering, and I’m glad America doesn’t do bartering because I do not think I am very good at it. I don’t know if I got the best deals, but it was a fun experience … although it got a bit overwhelming after a while because the sellers were so persistent, even when I told them no. Despite that, I enjoyed the experience overall.

At Pilanesberg National Park

Touring Pilanesberg National Park

Then we got to the game reserve for the safari! It was almost surreal. I had to keep reminding myself that I was actually in South Africa on a safari. We saw zebras, rhinos, elephants, impalas, kudu, springbok, jackals, giraffes, wildebeest, baboons, hippos, and an owl.

3imageOne of the highlights (animal sighting-wise) was when a parent elephant and its baby were right on the side of the road. They were so close and so beautiful. It was a wonderful moment.

We went around dusk, so we got to witness the sunset, and there were colors I have never seen in the sky. I’ll never forget it. After dark, the animals were more scarce, but it was beautiful to see the cooperation between animals. The wildebeest, impala, and zebra come together to protect themselves from predators. Nature works in incredible ways.

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We may not have seen as many animals, but the land came alive at night. We watched the stars pop one by one into the sky, and heard the insects make their appearance in the trees. Every time the vehicle would pass a tree, you could hear the sound of hundreds of tiny insects. It sounded like a rain stick was being played. It felt as though the trees were talking to us. The whole evening was magical.

Today was a wonderful way to end our time in this area before we leave for Cape Town tomorrow. I will never forget it.

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