Sunday, October 19, 2008

A beautiful Saturday

Yesterday, Central Circuit held their Quarterly meeting where stewards and members from most of the 56 societies come to hear a status of the church, reports from committees and what the focus of the next quarter or year will be. I have avoided going to these meetings like the plaque up until now. Even if they were held at St. Paul’s the thought of sitting in 4 hour meeting that is spoken in Siswati and probably didn’t pertain to me sounded about as inviting as having all my teeth pulled at one time without drugs.

But, Thursday afternoon I took Thoko home because she lives very far away in a rural area and she wouldn’t make the last bus to her area because she had attended a meeting at St. Paul;s all day for the NCH project we’re working on. As we drove I asked her if she was going to the Quarterly meeting. She said she wasn’t sure and asked if I was going. I said I was thinking about it but was afraid I couldn’t understand what was being said. Ok, and in reality I really hate walking into things like that alone. Anyway we decided we would meet in town at 9:00, and drive together so she could interpret for me. I picked her up at 9:00 and another one of the ladies that works with us a lot, Thini, called Thoko asking her were she was because she was running late and was just getting to the bus rank. Perfect timing. It gave us about 10 minutes to drive to the woman who is sewing our uniforms and pick up 20 that were finished, get back to pick up Thoko and then start driving the hour long drive to Siteki. We would be late, but This is Swaziland.

It was a beautiful ride. It had rained a bit on Friday night so the air was clean and so was the landscape. As we drove we talked about Rev. Margaret Dlamini. I’m not sure I have mentioned this on my blog because it has been such a heavy weight on my heart. Margaret is the Superintendent of the Mahamba Circuit. She was a teacher and then head teacher when she retired from teaching to become a minister. After training she was stationed at Mahamba and I believe she has been there for 12 years. She must be in her late 60’s or early 70’s. Her husband is 10 years older. I have enjoyed Margaret since I met her not long after arriving her last year. She’s stern as one would expect a school principle to be, at least here in Swaziland. But she has a compassionate heart and you can see the love and joy in her heart. Her schools are the poorest of the Methodist schools in Swaziland, but I feel they are the best organized and run. Education is obviously very important to her. Probably a month ago, there was a bomb attempt on the King’s life. From what I understand a bomb was planted in the bombers car in preparation of the King driving by at a certain time when he was leaving his Royal residence. When the King came by the bomber would blow up both cars. I’m told somehow they learned the King had changed his plans and was going leave the next morning. Word has it they were trying to dismantle the bomb when it went off. One of Margaret’s sons was one of the two bombers that was killed. The story is always in the news, rehashing what happened, there is a lot of gossip in and out of the church, and yesterday she said the police keep harassing her and her neighbors regarding what happened and wanting to know everyone who attended the funeral so they can be interrogated. On Thursday when the King announced the new Prime Minister, he spoke very harshly about terrorism attempts and general violent militant attempts. The Methodist Church and Margaret’s family have been asked to pay a formal visit to the King in apology. Margaret and her husband have to pay the King some cows. Margaret is on leave from her ministerial duties because of her health. Thini, Thoko and I have talked and prayed about Margaret many times. I have wanted to go visit her just to hug her and tell her I am praying for her and that my heart aches for her. So we decided after the quarterly meeting we would go visit here because comparatively speaking, her homestead is in the area.

The quarterly meeting was good. I could follow along with most of it and several accommodated me by speaking some parts in English. But it was so good to see some of the people I don’t see very often. Lots of hugs were given and received. At the last minute Kanana asked me if I would give an update on the projects (which I knew he would in exactly that manner.) I joked with him as I came up and briefly said some of the major projects I am helping with and took the opportunity to thank those people who helped me so much. And I thanked them for welcoming me into their world so graciously. When it was over, we ate, of course. Methodist women everywhere are fantastic cooks! It must be in the Holy water used during baptism! It was almost 4:00 when we left. But Thini and Thoko still wanted to stop to see Margaret, which we did and I am so thankful that we did. Our visit meant a lot to Margaret and her husband. Both talked and shared their heavy hearts and the pain. Margaret spoke in English but her husband Nehemiah spoke in Siswati. Tears softly flowed. When Thini started the prayer, she and Thoko got on their knees and started a song I hear often but don’t know the words. I could feel the passion and love. As Thini started praying in Siswati I once again couldn’t help but feel what she was saying and the tears came. This was truly a God thing. We shared our love and compassion with a dear friend and sister in Christ and in return we were able share her pain and grief a little and hopefully give her a bit of peace and hope. God blessed us all. We left sad, yet very upbeat because we had answered our hearts and gone to visit her.

We got back to Manzini as it was getting dark so I drove both ladies most of the way home which was such a surprise and blessing for them. I got back to St. Paul’s and Rev. Kanana thanked me for coming to the quarterly meeting and thanked me for visiting Margaret. I walked to my house and about 5 minutes later the big thunderstorm brought rain. Once again, God’s perfect timing.

Please pray for Rev. Margaret and Nehemiah Dlamini. Pray for their spiritual and physical healing. Pray that they faith doesn’t waiver. Pray for the aching hole in their hearts. Margaret gave birth to 7 children. She raised them all in the church, they went to Christian schools. This son was the 5th child to die. At least two died from the “sickness” (AIDS), one died of heart failure caring for her sick brother who passed away the next day. But Margaret said this death is by far the hardest because of all that is surrounding this. So please pray for these hurting parents. And pray for all parents everywhere whose children have chosen to go down the wrong path in spite of how they were raised.

No comments: