Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Sod Turning at Lomngeletjane, 9-3-07

Today was another big event. The sod was turned (or as we would say, ground breaking) for the start of the primary school at Lomngeletjane. As you will recall from an earlier post, Lomngeletjane is the site of a carepoint/preschool that is currently being held in the Methodist church. A new primary school teacher was hired in August to start teaching first grade. The carepoint/preschool and grade one class is being held in wooden plank structures that have lots of gaps between the wooden planks. One of these structures is the Lomngeletjane Methodist Church. The chief of Lomngeletjane is a Methodist, and wanted to have a Methodist primary school in the area. Both the Chief and the church wanted a school to support the large numbers of orphans in the area so he donated the land to the Methodist church. With funds raised by Dennis Little, also from Central Texas Conference, a bore-hole has been dug, two new eco stoves are almost complete, and now construction will be started to build four classrooms as the start for the primary school. The classrooms are to be completed by January when the new school year starts.

The initial ceremony was held inside the church. There were speeches, prayers, singing, a brief talk by the bishop, the naming of the school and more speeches. Members of the local church and St. Paul’s, members of the community, the Chief and his family as well as members of Prince Lomngeletjane II were in attendance. As I sat there listening to the speeches while the wind was howling very loudly through the wooden planks and rattling the corrugated sheet metal roof, watching the dust particles swirl inside the building as they danced in the sun, watched the cows graze outside the window, I was in awe of what an auspicious occasion this was. This community was about to be changed for the better forever. This community was receiving the gift of love and hope for future generations. It was another experience that goes beyond what few words I have in my vocabulary.

As a side note, Lomngeletjane means long (tall), young man named Charlie. This man named Charlie was a ship builder who built ships in Mozambique and settled this area many years ago.

When the speeches ended, we all moved outside. First to the bore hole so the Bishop could bless that, then over to the stoves before walking down the hill just a bit to where the primary school will be. After turning the sod, the Bishop planted two trees. The first one was from the Manyano and church community and the other from the Chief. Both were to be visible signs and reminder of the occasion for years to come.

When everything was blessed, the sod turned, and the trees planted we all went back inside for tea. Food and water is such a precious resource in Swaziland and yet it is served generously at all of the special events. This was a day that marked a great beginning: a turning point for the community and coming together of the community and the church. It was another day filled with the grace of God and the Holy Spirit.

There are many challenges ahead for Lomngeletjane Memorial School – funds for furniture, teaching and student supplies, food, health care, etc. But those are all challenges that we will be working to resolve. One gift that has not been shared yet (so please keep it a secret!) is that a Christian childrens group in South Africa is looking to donate the money for uniforms for 25 children with the stipulation that they have to be sewn by a local person. The uniforms are to be given as a Christmas present. They gave me a call, and I told them I knew just the school, but it had 28 students. They think they can accommodate 28 uniforms. So it looks like God has provided once again. There are no small miracles in this world. God doesn’t think small.

Ngiyabonga Unkulunkulu! (I thank you God!)

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