Search This Blog


Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Farewell Pilanesberg

This was my last trip into Pilanesberg. After 19 years since my last visit this visit was full of wonderful surprises. Alas, I did not see leopard, buffalo or sable, but the lion kill, kudu and elephant sparring, rhinos, picnics, and so many other wonderful sites brought me incredible joy and worship to God.

On this particular morning I was greeted right out my tent door with another beautiful African sunrise. Off into the park I ventured. I swung by my favorite watering hole in hopes of seeing the lions but the only patron there was this frog catcher perched in the tree. Back on the main road, up ahead was a stopped safari jeep . Grateful for the tip off I pulled up and off on the hillside were a pair of jackals eating who knows what.

I turned up an old favorite road from my trip here 19 years ago and I was not disappointed. Soon there was yet another herd of elephant in the bush. In the pictures you can get a sense of how well they are camouflaged. I found this fellow by looking behind me. As I drove forward he was hidden by the bushes but when I looked back there he was!

Further ahead I finally found some kudu. A juvenile, female, and a couple males with grand antlers. The two males tussled a bit, but nothing too aggressive. Still, it was exciting to see. My morning voyage was all too short and soon it was time to get to breakfast and head to Jo'burg for meetings.

My car was filthy from the dirt roads of Pilanesberg so I paid way too much for a car wash at the safari camp while I strolled through the aviary. All in all it was an amazing time but bitter sweet. I truly missed my wife and kids. One of my sons loves animals and even dreams of owning/designing/working at zoos. He would have loved this. They all would have loved it. God willing we will again return as a family.

Thank you for joining me on this virtual safari.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Back Into Pilanesberg: Third Time is a Charm

My third trip into Pilanesberg was amazing. I went on the northeast loop and was treated to giraffe on my left and a massive bull elephant right in the middle of the road. I learned my lesson and kept my distance. I followed him  for a mile or so as he strolled along eating tree limbs. Off to my right I heard other elephants trumpeting and I figured all were headed to the watering hole up ahead.

At the watering hole observation blind (accessed by a short walk to the weighted chain link security door) were two older couples from Scotland. When the bull I followed showed up he started bathing and splashing around on the far side of the watering hole, probably 1/4 mile away. The bull moved on and so did the couples.

Almost immediately the herd of elephant began to arrive. The two zebras drinking at the watering hole retreated to the bush as the elephants took over the watering hole. Only a few hundred yards away this time, I knew I was in for a treat.

I ran out of the blind to tell the couples that more elephants arrived and the couples joined me in the blind along with a family that just showed up. For the next two hours the elephants drank, swam!, fought, took mud baths, and rolled around in the watering hole. It was an amazing spectacle. I felt so blessed to see such a unique display.

I drove around the back of the park and up a mountain in search of the elusive leopards.

While driving up a long straight paved road I noticed cars and safari vehicles parked on the side of the road where I hoped to turn. I looked left and right to try to see what was so intresting. No one in the cars pointed in any direction, nor did they try to advise me as I slowly approached. Suddenly, on my left and about ten feet in front of me stood an adolescent bull elephant. He was as surprised as I was.

I stopped immediately and sheepishly shrugged at the people in the cars who had offered no help. I slowly backed away from the elephant who now had me locked in his gaze. I was about 20 feet away when he started towards me. I made sure the road behind me was clear and began backing down the road. As I backed up the elephant began to run after me! I am glad the road was straight because I was going about 20 mph in reverse while this elephant chased me. He was not going full speed so I hoped he would loose interest quickly. After about a quarter mile he stopped and turned his attention back to food. Ikept backing up and stayed quite a ways back. He eventually cleared the road and allowed me to continue on my leopard search.

Alas, there were no leopards to be found, but I did see the hippos out at the other watering hole. After watching the hippo adult chastise the babies I headed out of the park and drove right over a puff adder! Fortuantely the snake didn't move as I straddled it with my car. I backed up and was able to grab a few shots. At the time I didn't know what type of snake it was, only that it could kill me!

The last image is the front porch of my safari tent. The Impala were frequent guests and at night they woke me up as they ran by my tent, hooves thundering before the snorting and grunting of a very "enthusiastic" male Impala.

Enjoy the virtual safari!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Hate is an Equal Opportunity Employer

Have you seen this? What do you think about it?

It seems to me that more dialogue is beneficial, gracious, and humanizing. When "conservatives" do not engage people of differing ideologies they are labeled as bigots, narrow-minded, and hateful.

Here we have two homosexual men, Reisner and Weiderpass, having a dialogue with a Republican, anti-gay marriage senator, Ted Cruz. Yet the response from the LGBTQ community is a hateful condemnation of the event and a call to boycott the couples' businesses.

It seems to me this is the same sort of bigoted, hateful, narrow-minded thinking the LGBTQ community rails against in "conservatives."

Would it not be more productive to praise both parties for their desire to engage in civil dialogue in search of mutual understanding and common ground? As long as dialogue is seen as "consorting with the enemy" progress across any gulf that separates two ideologies will be hard won. As for me, I will write an email to Reisner and Weiderpass and thank them for hosting the event, encourage them to host more such events, and embolden them to call out the hypocrisy of their friends.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Here are the best shots from my next trip through Pilanesberg Game Park, truly one of my favorite places in the world. Like my other favorite place in the world, Yellowstone National Park, Pilanesberg is a caldera; a volcano crater from an ancient super-eruption. I am not sure if there is something about calderas that appeal to me but it seems there is something special aabout them.

Here are my best shots seen in the order they were taken. In a way it is a virtual safari. What you don't see is all the time spent driving around and seeing nothing! You get to see a couple minutes of highlights from 10 hours in a car in a safari park!

Yellow Horn Bill
my favorite watering hole
Guinea Fowl
in the park there are observation blinds but getting to them can be exciting
Red Hartebeest
Dung Beetle
Weaver nests
Wrestling Elephants
Lions covered in the blood of the wildebeest they just killed
The impala is walking a few hundred yards from the lions/wildebeest kill where the cars are
Ditto the Elephant, notice in the next two elephant shots the rhino and wildebeest on the opposite shore of the lake. I didn't even see them until I looked at my pictures back here in the states!
Baby crocodile
baby Kudu

Friday, April 24, 2015

Back to the "Cradle of Humankind"

Friends, in 1996 my wife and I moved to South Africa with our 3 year old and 10 month old. It was the best 6 months of my life. For us, a highlight was a safari at Pilanesberg Park about 1.5 hrs from our home in Johannesburg. One of my pictures from Africa was my first entry to the Indiana State Fair photography competition. I got an honorable mention! During the critique the judges felt my "choice of matte color could have been better but the image was superb." I made great friends and memories while in South Africa.

After 19 years of pining and praying I finally returned to South Africa and Pilanesberg. The country has changed significantly. The infrastructure is more fragile. Jo'burg is swollen with people and now forms the lower part of a megalopolis that engulfs Pretoria to SoWeTo (South West Township). Yet the beauty of South Africa remains.

I rented a car and drove out to Pilanesberg for a few days to visit one of my favorite places in the world. I have culled my 1000 pictures to four sets of slides; one for each trip into the park. I hope you enjoy the ride.

Pilanesberg Safari Day 1

What a fantstic first day back at Pilanesberg. I drove from Roodeport in the morning and arrived around 11am. En route, I picked up peanut butter, honey, and a loaf of bread. At Pilanesberg's Manyane "Resort" I checked into my tent and immediately headed into the park. I started at this watering hole where the herd of elephant went by me. From there it seemed around every corner I found more of God's great creation.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Back in the Saddle

I will spare you a long story re: my silence and simply say it is good to be back. It is also good to have my camera gear back from the Canon Service Center. So, in celebration and for your edification I give you a collection of pics taken a couple days ago to document the visitors to our bird feeder here in Xenia.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Book Review: The Coach Model

By Keith Webb

“Coaching is not about certificates, it’s about being helpful to others” Keith Webb

Recently, Bob Tiede introduced me to The Coach Model by Keith Webb. Keith is a Professional Certified Coach, consultant, and speaker who specializes in leadership development. I found his book easy to read and very practical. I have already applied some of his techniques in conversations with family members, friends, and new acquaintances. In all honesty I find his approach refreshing and fun, though I do struggle with being patient and letting the conversation evolve at its own pace. Here are some highlights from the book.

Available at Amazon
Coaching is an ongoing intentional conversation that empowers a person or group to fully live out God’s calling. Coaches empower people to think more deeply, discover their own path and experience empowerment to realize that path. Written as an equation Listen+ ask + allow = empower

A good coach and leader begins with this question in mind, “How can I, as a leader who is responsible for others, not teach or remind?” Remember, 1) it is not my responsibility to change others; the Holy Spirit can and will do it on his own–maybe with me but often without me, and 2) it is not my responsibility to correct everything that I think is out of sync with Scripture, company policy, or best practices.

Keith offers “The Coach Model” below to help coaches structure coaching times:

C–connect: connect with the person to build rapport and trust; follow-up on action steps and indulge in some good old-fashioned small talk. Demonstrate, and have a genuine interest in the person you coach.

If this is not the first meeting, this phase is also a good opportunity to follow up on the previous meeting.

Possible questions:
What progress did you make in your action steps?
What? So what? Now what?
What? Designed to raise the coachees awareness of thoughts, emotions, and behaviors
So what? Reinforce learning by extending it into other areas of life. How can you extend the learning? Where else could you apply what you’ve learned? How do you want to do things differently in the future?

O–outcome: outcome is the intended result the coachee would like to achieve.

In this phase of the conversation the coach helps the coachee to reflect more deeply, and draw out how God is guiding. It’s critical to find out what the coachee considers to be the most valuable topic for each coaching conversation.

Example questions:
What would make today’s conversation meaningful for you?
Exploring: What would achieving this do for you?
Clarifying: What would success look like to you?
Focusing: That’s a big topic what would you like to focus on today?
Confirm the outcome: Are we making the progress you hope for in our

A–awareness: awareness is a reflective dialogue intended to produce discoveries, insights, and increased perspective for the coachee.

“You cannot teach a man anything. You can only help him discover it within himself.”–Galileo Galilei

Discoveries are a fundamental part of the coaching experience, and are the ultimate goal of the awareness step. Coachees make discoveries about themselves, their situation, their potential, their actions, their in action, their assumptions, their values. The thrill of discovery produces new thoughts emotions perspectives and determination.

Coaches stimulate or even provoke reflection.
“The most effective way to influence both individual and institutional behavior is to ask questions.”–Lyle Schaller

Open questions are the single sure practice that invites critical thinking and effective learning.”–Jane Vella affirms that adults learn best through dialogue and questions that promote dialogue.

The purposes of a man’s heart are deep waters, but a man of understanding draws the amount. Proverbs 20:5

Forward questions
What would excellent resolution of this look like?
What are possible next steps for the team?
Who might be able to help?
How do you prefer to learn new things?

To expand horizons and possibilities, ask questions from different perspectives: relational, financial, motivational, organizational, spiritual, etc.

Feedback: raise awareness by not giving feedback, draw out their own feedback.
What did you do well?
What could you improve?
How would you do differently next time?

C–course: Put feet to insights and discoveries by helping the coachee create action steps.

Coaches help people create action steps using the conversational skills of active listening and powerful questions. Coaching helps coaches to create action steps that will move them forward toward their goal. Remember, the best action steps are: simple, goal oriented, doable

H–highlights: Highlights focus on reviewing the parts of the conversation that the coachee found most meaningful. This reinforces the coachee’s insights and important points and strengthens his learning. Again, questions are the most powerful way to uncover the highlights. Ask the coachee what he/she felt were the highlights.

Highlights questions:
What do you want to remember from today’s conversation?
What was most useful to you from our conversation?
What are your takeaways from this conversation?

To truly grow an organization, leaders and teams must reach organizational objectives and develop the capacity of the people in the organization. An effective supervisor seeks to accomplish the 2 goals simultaneously, reaching organizational objectives while developing employees. The COACH model offers all leaders and coaches a great framework for achieving those goals.