Sunday, September 28, 2008

Homestead Visits

Last Thursday, Thoko, Thini and I went to visit a homestead near Thoko’s house. The house had burned by a fire started by unknown assailants. The part of the story I got was that someone threw a blanket soaked in Petrol into the house while the children sleeping. I’m unclear if the blanket was burning when they tossed it in, or if they then tossed in a match or if it caught fire on a fire or stove already in the house. The father was able to get the children out unhurt. This was the first visit where we were met by the man of the homestead. Usually the men are gone , stay out of sight or at least out of earshot. But the mother was not at home. We met the father as he was out walking somewhere and he showed us the way to his home. He then put out a straw mat on the floor of his house and told us what happened. Thini and Thoko then held a little worship service including singing, a scripture and little sermon. Thini used the verses John 15:12 – 15. “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” She was thoughtful enough to read them in Siswati and then read them in English for me.

I was surprised when the man sang all the songs and offered a prayer. When we sit for little services like this, I usually offer up my own prayers for the family and contemplate what life is like for the people in the homestead. I never feel it is appropriate to take pictures during the actual conversations and worship between the ladies and the families so I take them in my head. This visit was another occasion when I wished I could have taken pictures for you. The man and his sons had already started rebuilding the small square block house. It had a roof on the walls reusing some of the corrugated iron sheets. I could tell they were re-used because I could see the nail holes from the previous use. The sheets had been turned a different way so that as much as possible the holes were covered by another piece of sheet metal. The windows didn’t have glass in them and were still full of soot and ash. They had some of the more damaged pieces of corrugated iron covering them. There was a smaller side room, probably what will eventually be a bedroom that did not have completed walls or a roof.

Inside the main room was a double size bed, a small wooden wardrobe/cupboard and a small iron stove that either used small pieces of wood or some sort of gas. The families few articles of clothing were on the bed and the few pots where stacked neatly in the corner by the little stove. As we were sitting there, a chicken came into the room pecking around for food. It even climbed up on the pots and the stove looking for something to eat. I don’t think it found much.. We left with a bag of some sort of melons or pumpkins or squash for Thini. From the outside they looked like those little individual sized watermelons we in the US love to buy. But I am told they are not watermelons that they are more like a pumpkin or a squash.

The surrounding countryside was beautiful, of course. The pictures below are of the creek I have to cross to get to Thoko’s house. It is just now starting to rain a little, so the creek is low enough to drive across, although I always stop and say a prayer before crossing. When the rains come I will have to cross the river further up the road and then drive longer making many turns to get to Thoko’s house. There is also a picture of the view from the family’s homestead, pictures of the homestead itself, Thoko’s homestead, Thoko’s garden and a picture of 10 children with brand new shoes on their feet.

This was the first time Thini had been to Thoko’s homestead. They’ve known each other and work together in Manyano for a long time, but since neither has means of transportation, and Thoko lives “very, very far” Thini has never been able to see her friend’s homestead. This was an opportunity for two friends to share a bit more of themselves with each other. It also gave Thoko an opportunity to pick some fresh vegetables that we then took to a child at one of our schools who is from a family of three orphans and are staying with an Uncle and Auntie and their two year old daughter. I also scored some beautiful lettuce and two huge fresh onions!

We did many more things that day – delivered some shoes, some used uniform shirts to children at Salukazi as well as the vegetables for the family. We exchanged two pairs of those shoes that didn’t fit for correct sizes, ran errands in town including dropping off material to a seamstress to sew more school uniforms for children. But nothing was as precious as enabling a friend to welcome another friend to her homestead. Time with friends is a blessing anywhere. It’s just a little more difficult to share as much in some parts of the world as others. Thoko was feeling very, very ill the entire day. So at the end of the day I took her back home and then drove Thini to her home. They were both very grateful for the ride.

Blessings to you all and I thank God for all of the friends he has put in my path to make my life so much sweeter.

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