Sunday, February 24, 2008

Back in Swaziland!

Sanibonani! (Translation: Howdy ya’ll!)

Thursday afternoon, February 21st, I returned to Swaziland after 2 ½ months in the States. It was so good to visit with family and friends both old and new. I flew back to South Africa on Feb February 15th. Unfortunately, I came down home with a stomach virus the night before I left. The few days in South Africa gave me some time to recuperate and meet with some people from the church in the Johannesburg area before heading back to Swaziland. Richard Bosart, of South Africa Methodist Volunteers in Mission (SAMVIM), drove me over. We arrived hot and tired around 4:00 in the afternoon. It was in the low 90’s and more humid than South Africa or than I anticipated. When we entered my cottage, we found it stifling hot and covered in layers of dust, cob webs, dead spiders and ants and no electricity or hot water. Richard and I unloaded his pickup and the trailer that was full of suitcases, and borrowed furniture. It was not fun. We didn’t know where to put things down because everything was so dirty, but we had to hurry and unload so we could be at a meeting at the church at 6:00 and there wasn’t a secure place to leave the trailer full of furniture. Sweat was pouring off both of us and we were filthy but we stopped what we were doing a few minutes before 6:00 to go to the meeting. It was wonderful to see familiar, loving faces, but in typical Swazi style, they were just starting to set up chairs for the meeting and most of the people hadn’t arrived yet. Finally people started coming, and then a few people left to go get some food, and more people kept coming. I still didn’t catch on. I assumed the meeting was to go over the status of the projects, some of which are running behind. When everyone had gathered and the food arrived, the welcome speeches started. They had arranged a welcome home dinner and gathering for me. It was so special! As I was greeting everyone and hugging those I had missed, I realized that St. Paul’s has become my second home and family. It was so good to be back. They showered me with love and a gift of a TV so I could keep up with news from home and the elections. (People here are more concerned about the elections in the US than most people in the US! Isn’t that a shame?) It was a wonderful evening, although I felt so bad that I was dirty, sweaty and had on pants when everyone was dressed up in their Sunday best.

Friday was spent driving to four of the schools to check out possibilities for projects for future teams. It was hot. I forgot to bring my straw hat back with me from the States. Luckily, Richard had packed an ice chest with some tuna fish for lunch and lots of water. After seeing the schools, Richard helped me get a few things done around my place and put up a shelf in the bathroom for me and changed out the shower head so I have a chance at getting a decent shower, when there is water of course. His acts of kindness were probably the most precious gifts of all! That evening we had an impromptu meeting with Rev. Kanana Nyameka, the new Superintendent of the Central Circuit, regarding on-going projects and what he would like me to focus on. Finally around midnight, we realized morning would come early and all said good night. Richard left Saturday morning after jumping my car which of course died about 5 minutes after he left. When my neighbour couldn’t get it to start using his battery, I called Bethuel and when he was able to come in the afternoon, I discovered that my battery is one that uses water and it was bone dry. He took the battery someplace to be charged over night. I spent the rest of the day unpacking, cleaning, and organizing. I have never sweat so much in my life, but I got it most of the way done. I feel like for the first time I really moved in and that I am much more prepared for life in Swaziland. Although, I must confess, there were a few times yesterday when I was so hot and sweaty that I wondered why in the world I have made this choice. I’ve been told that things will start cooling down at the end of March and then we will have liveable weather until October. I’m not banking on it, but am trying to keep an open mind.

Today is Sunday. I am finishing up a few things, but mainly observing the Sabbath with a day of rest. I even took a little nap after church because it is so hot at night, sleep isn’t very easy. I will update the blog with updates on the schools over the next week or so. Stay tuned.

Thank you so much to everyone for your love, support and prayers. I miss you all, but know you are with me in spirit. The little bit I understood of today’s sermon was about the need for companions during our walk of faith. I am so blessed to have so many companions to share my walk with, even if we are over 9,000 miles apart. God Bless you all.

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