Thursday, November 15, 2007

This is Swaziland

Today I had the privilege of “transporting” Gertrude, Thoko and Juliet to the homestead of one of the church members that was far out a dirt road in the country. I’d love to tell you which direction it was from Manzini, but I don’t have any idea. I do know that it took us 50 minutes to get there and was 25 km from Manzini. Gertrude and Thoko are two wonderful Manyano (Methodist Women’s organization) ladies. Juliet is also a Manyano lady, but is now one of the Central Circuit’s Evangelists. In the Methodist Church in Swaziland, evangelizing isn’t about standing on a street corner trying to bring groups of people to Christ and start a new church. It is about bringing people to Christ, or helping them remain in Christ by acts of love, kindness and service. Evangelists go visit people in their homes, pray for them and bring the word of God to them on a personal scale. We were on a mission of love, delivering some clothes, a little food and visiting with them. Juliet conducted a small worship service. This is one of those occasions that it didn’t really matter what the scripture, song or mini-sermon was about. I knew it was about the love of God and I could feel the Holy Spirit upon us. It was such a blessing to be sitting under the trees, on a straw mat worshiping our Lord and Savior in the middle of nowhere in Swaziland. I found myself wishing that I could have a picture to remember this occasion by. If only there was a way to play back the video of such occasions that are stored in my mind. I briefly thought of getting up and taking a picture, but that would have been too much of an intrusion. I would have felt like a paparazzi.

This homestead had 3 or 4 huts. There is no water, electricity or other “essentials” in life. One of the members of the homestead is a beautiful handicapped young woman (21 years old). When we arrived at the homestead she was so excited to see us, but you could tell she was embarrassed because she wasn’t dressed up and in her wheelchair. Thoko, Gertrude and the women helped her change into a dress and put her into her wheelchair before Juliet and I could meet her. Juliet and I were shown to a mat under a tree. While we waited Juliet told me about different aspects of Swaziland culture. She explained how all of the sons of a family remain on the same homestead. They build separate huts to sleep in with their wife and individual families, but they all cook and eat together. It was interesting to hear that she didn’t necessarily think that was they way it should be because brothers can end up getting mad at each other and end up hating each other. Yet they continue to live on the same homestead and just won’t speak to each other. In addition, if a family has only girls or if the grandparents and parents die leaving only young children, sometimes the homestead “just goes away.” Generally single women and children cannot maintain a homestead by themselves for a variety of social, economic and safety reasons. Juliet thought we had a better idea in the United States where families move a little bit away from each other and then when they see each other there is still love. I thought to myself, if only that were true. Unfortunately all too many times families, mine included, move hundreds and thousands of miles away and rarely see each other. I also thought that even when brothers move away from the homestead, they can still get mad at each other and never speak to each other. If only we could all learn from each others cultures to create a more perfect family unit.

As the chickens, roosters and baby chicks wandered around us Juliet and I talked about many other little things in life. She pointed out the clay pots that are still used for cooking over the open fire because the cast iron pots are too expensive. She also told me why you will see old automobile tires up in trees and on roofs. She said some believe that will keep lightening from striking the homestead or house like how you are protected in an automobile during a lightening storm because of the tires.

This day was not a day I did my “work”, whatever that is, but it was a day truly orchestrated by God. The only way to get to this homestead is by automobile or to take a bus that occasionally goes down the road and then walk a couple of kilometres from the main road to their homestead. The ladies have done this before, but it is very difficult especially when they want to bring items for the family and the weather is as hot as it is now. I told my dear friends that I hope they will allow me to provide the transport for them to go visit more families while I am here in Swaziland. I am so honoured to be able to be in His Holy presence and to literally be a vehicle to bringing the love of Christ and his word to those who otherwise are unable to receive it. Thanks be to God!

1 comment:

Mary Lieffort said...

I feel honored to have shared this experience with you through your blog. Your description is so perfectly worded,and is so reminiscent of the home visits we made outside of Jo'Burg. It truly is such a holy privilege to see the Hand of God so visibly move. I'm thankful you had this opportunity to be present in such a God filled experience and pray for many more to come...