Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Visit to Siteki

Today Sphiwe and I drove to Siteki to see the Methodist Church and visit with Pastor France Mabuza and his wife Lundile. This was my first visit to Siteki and now I can truly say I’ve been to all corners of Swaziland and been to all of the major and semi-major towns. Siteki is in the high veld, about 2500 feet in elevation. It was beautiful (of course). The church is very beautiful. The manse needs work but the major issue is that there is no water at the church and the city water system in Siteki is not good. France said if they had water they would give the orphans little plots of land to grow vegetable gardens. After we talked for a while France said he was going to the hospital in Big Bend to visit with Rev. Margaret Dlamini’s husband, Nehemiah who had been admitted to the hospital the day before. Rev. Dlamini is the Superintendent for the Mahamba circuit but her homestead is near Siteki. Sphiwe and I decided to also go, however, I wasn’t sure I would make the trip and hospital visit without using a toilet. I had no idea how difficult that request was going to be to fulfill. They said there weren’t any decent toilets in town, but that we could go use the toilet at one of the society steward’s house. We ended up driving to a Steward’s house a few blocks away. They had to fill a water bucket for me to manually flush the toilet. If those facilities were better than what I would have found in town, I shutter to think what we would have discovered. I was so embarrassed and wished I had just tried to hold it for another three hours until we got back to Manzini.

After we left Siteki we stopped by France’s homestead – the home of his parents. There I met his mother who didn’t speak any English, but Sphiwe interpreted for me when I told her what a fine son she had raised. While there Lundile served us a Coke and refreshments which made them both feel so much better because it is the culture of Swazi’s to offer a guest something to drink when they come for a visit. France also needed to grab an official preacher’s shirt with collar before going onto the hospital. In Swaziland they frown upon a preacher showing up to perform his duties without his collar. I told him in the US Methodist preachers don’t wear collars and indeed in Texas during the summer, some don’t even wear a tie when they preach. France wants to come to Texas!

The hospital in Big Bend where Nehemiah is at is a private hospital. It was very clean and orderly, however it was like something out of the 1930’s. The beds were simple metal frames painted white with a sponge (mattress) on top. To sit the patient up in bed the nurse hung a metal tray type of thing from the frame near the head and then laid the pillows on that. Then they had to manually lift the patient into a sitting position. There were about 12 of us who came to visit. Seven of them came in one pickup truck! A few songs were sung, everyone offered up a prayer, France prayed and preached for a few minutes and then those who wanted to also spoke. Then communion was served to Nehemiah, Margaret and 4 others. I didn’t understand what was being said, but I heard “Syabonga Unkulunkulu” a lot which means “we thank you God” and a few other words associated with God, Christ and the Holy Spirit. My mind kept going back to when my father was in the hospital and I said “ngibonga Unkulunkulu (I thank you God) for the hospitals, medical equipment and staff that we have in the US. I thought of the last time we celebrated Holy Communion with my father at home just days before he passed away. It was a bittersweet experience for me but I felt very comforted being in the company of fellow Christians even though we didn’t speak the same language. When we left, France came up to me and thanked me for the ministry of my presence which he said is so important. I thank him for that and I thank Unkulunkulu for the opportunity and the ministry of France’s presence. By the way, Nehemiah is expected to recover and be released from the hospital in the next day or two.

No comments: