Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Sawubona! (Hi; Hello; a basic greeting.)

The journey from Round Rock to Swaziland was long but we (my long time best friend Laura and I) arrived safely. After arriving in Johannesburg Thursday night (8/2) we spent the day on Friday resting from the trip and took the opportunity to go to the Rotary International Book Repository in Johannesburg to pick out some books for Swaziland and then made a visit to Khanysilie Child Development Center where we had spent time working with the children in June of 2006. On Saturday we made the 4 ½ hour drive from Johannesburg to Manzini. The countryside varied between coal mines and power plants in South Africa to pine tree farms (for lumber), eucalyptus tree farms (for paper pulp) and lumber mills closer to Swaziland. Once in Swaziland, the countryside is very hilly. Manzini is about 45 minutes from the Swazi border. The major highway in Swaziland runs between Mbabane the administrative capital of Swaziland about 10 minutes from the border to Manzini. The road is a fairly steep decline in elevation to Manzini. Cars and trucks travel very fast on the highway, not particularly staying in their lanes and drivers must also be very watchful for pedestrians and live stock walking along the edge of the road.

Once arriving at St Paul's Methodist Church in Manzini, my new home, we were graciously met by Rev. Sikhumbuzo Ngema who is the circuit superintendent, his wife and a few key members of the church. We were served a delicious meal and I was delivered to my new home, one of the teacher's cottages on the grounds of the St Paul's Methodist schools.

The teacher's cottages are next to the soccer field between the primary school and high school. My "cottage" is on the end of a building that has 4 "cottages" in it, all side by side. It is basically a one level cinder block building. They painted the inside walls a gold-yellow with burnt orange-brownish doors. It looks very nice. They put up nice drapes in the living room and bedroom. It took me a bit to realize that I can't hang much on the walls because they are all cement block. I'm working on getting some bookshelves or something to put things on or in as well as other basic furniture. I have a bed, so I'm set for the time being! The windows open out but all close as tight as can be expected which is a big improvement over Epworth Childrens Home where I stayed on the last two mission trips! There are no screens on the doors or windows and all have bars on them for security and of course there is no heat or air conditioning. The water pressure is very low because we are on a well. When water usage is high, the water barely trickles out, but at least I have water and I have hot water! It puts water conservation into a whole different light! Once I can get a few basic pieces of furniture for the cottage, I know it will be very adequate, and I am very grateful to have it.

Sunday morning we attended both the 8:00 and 10:00 service where we were introduced. The 8:00 service is quite small and is conducted in Xhosa (a derivative of the Zulu language which is spoken in South Africa) and English. The 10:00 service is more widely attended and is conducted solely in Siswati (the Swaziland language which is also a derivative of Zulu.)". An interesting note about the services: One: those who tithe come up to the front of the sanctuary where a steward is sitting at a desk to record their tithe. There is an option for people to put their tithe into an envelope and put it into the collection plate, but most prefer to hand deliver it to the steward and get their payment book stamped. Two: Every three months the stewards are required to report to the congregation details of the financial status, income and expenditures of the church. Financial statements were handed out, explained and questions answered.

A wonderful afternoon was spent getting to know people, the area, and one of the care point sights where a school will be built. The country side is beautiful and very rural complete with dirt roads which have as many cows and goats on them as people or cars. It was a long, but wonderful day.

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