Sunday, November 18, 2007

Today was a special event at St. Paul’s. There was a special communion service and lunch for the Gogo’s (grandmothers or old person) and shut-ins. My dear friend Thoko and I went to St. Joseph’s school for the handicapped and brought two of the residents that St Paul’s congregation sponsors. They were both so excited to come to church. They are both in wheelchairs and don’t get the opportunity to get out much. This was the first time either of them had been to St. Paul’s. I had met the boy, Silumbi on two other occasions. Once at his homestead and once when Thoko and I had dropped of clothes for them at St. Joseph’s. He didn’t speak either time. Today, however, he and Fikile (the girl) were very talkative in the car to and from St. Paul’s. Fikile was so excited she could hardly contain herself!

This was another one of those situations where I didn’t know what to expect. And once again I was amazed at how well everything worked out. We drove into St. Joseph’s not knowing where to pick up Silumbi and Fikile but saw them sitting in their wheelchairs ready to go (of course, we were 30 minutes late.) Then I wasn’t sure how we would get them into the car. However, I didn’t have to worry long about that. Thoko went off to look for the matron and Fikile, even though she didn’t speak any English, proceeded to instruct me on how she would get into the car. She did it like a pro. Then Silumbi followed suit. I was trying to put the wheelchairs in the back of the car by the time Thoko returned. She couldn’t have been gone 5 minutes!

When we got to St. Paul’s, Thoko had a young woman’s Manyano uniform for Fikile. She changed into it and was oh so proud. We helped them into the sanctuary and sat up front in the area where all of the honoured guests were to sit. I was amazed that Fikile knew most if not all of the words to the songs and sang beautifully. She knew exactly what was going on and when it came time for communion, she didn’t hesitate at all to push herself to the alter rail. When we entered the sanctuary we placed Silumbi on the right side with the men as is customary in the black Methodist churches in Africa. Silumbi wasn’t as familiar with what was going on as Fikile was and of course the men, being men, didn’t tell him what was going on. I went over and pushed him to the alter rail for communion. It must have been his first communion because I had to show him what to do, but he watched me and followed my lead very well. You could tell he was very happy.

Another precious moment was when Rev. Ngema asked for a young person to come up and say a few words of thanks or tribute for Gogos. (I am assuming this is what he asked for based on what happened, the laughter and the little bit I did understand.) The person who stood up first and came right up front was Gogo Simelane. This is not unusual for Gogo Simelane to come up and praise the Lord for many things, but everyone laughed when she got up first to speak on this occasion. Rev. Ngema said she was indeed a young one. She was only 12 years old – 12 years minus 100 years! This woman has so much energy. At 88 years old she runs circles around everyone. She is definitely one of my heroines. At the end of the service, he commanded them all that they must live to be 100 years old as one of the scriptures readings said (Isaiah 65:20).

Another sweet moment came at the very end. The last thing that was done at the service was for all of the children to come up front and kneel at the alter rail. Rev. Ngema then went and gave each child a piece of candy, just as he gave out the elements of communion. Each child held the piece of candy in their hands until everyone received one. Then Rev. Ngema blessed them all and the children then stood to return to their seats, some putting the candy into their mouth on the way but others taking it back and showing their mothers before eating it. Thoko said it was “children’s” communion. It was very sweet.

As we took Silumbi and Fikile back to St. Joseph’s they talked about how good it was to come to a Methodist service instead of the Catholic service they attend at the school because they don’t really understand the Catholic rituals or know what is going on. (this was translated for me, of course.) I could relate to their feelings. I can’t wait to come home and worship in familiar surroundings. Crossroads AM, here I come! They said they hoped they could come back soon. That of course is my que. I’m sure before too long the McLain Kombi will go pick them up for another visit. It was well worth the drive time out and back to see their faces during the service.

Glory be to God!

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