Monday, October 20, 2008

Today's adventure

Today I went to the last two Methodist schools in Swaziland that I haven’t visited or at least seen. They both are in the HhoHho circuit that is based out of Mbabane. One of the assistants at John Wesley Methodist Church, aka the mission church for HhoHho circuit, called the deputy at Embo Methodist Primary and asked her to meet me at John Wesley. She then showed me the way to her school. It was a good 30 – 45 minutes from Mbabane. The school was nestled on the hill leading into a little valley and was surrounded by mountains, homesteads and then the forests to the distance. It was absolutely beautiful. It was one of those views where it was very clear why Swaziland is called the Switzerland of Africa. Embo is also home to the first Methodist school in Swaziland. The original building is still in use. I could tell this was authentic because it is built using large stones just as the first Methodist Church in Swaziland (in Mahamba) was built. The grounds and buildings were very clean and tidy and you could tell by the children’s behavior that the school was run well. On our way out, the teacher told me that she and her deputy were assigned to Embo last year and that the community was not very happy because they didn’t think a school could be run by women. HA! She said they have come around. The picture below shows the Embo Methodist which is on the school grounds. This is very common. The brown stone building to the right is the oldest block of classrooms in Swaziland.

The second school, Osuthu Methodist Primary School, was another 30 to 45 minutes to the west, very near the Sandalane border. I drove through nothing but forests on the way to the school, up and down steep roads and a lot of sharp turns, not to mention the bad potholes that would just appear many times. When I drive through isolated country like this I am going on sheer faith that God is protecting me. When I got to where I thought the school might be because I could see one off the main road up on the hillside, I stopped to ask a few ladies standing by the road if that was the school. I’m sure they didn’t speak English, but it didn’t matter because they saw the magnetic signs on my car that carry the symbol of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa and they just pointed up the hill. It was so cute. The school needs a lot of help. The head teacher wasn’t in and they don’t have a deputy so I spoke with the senior teacher. The school’s location was drier and even more remote and obviously in a very poor community. There were a lot of needs, however they were making progress to improve things. But over all, based off the children’s behavior it was clear it isn’t run as well as the other school.

On the way home, at one point I was behind a pickup truck with probably 10 workers riding in the back. They got a kick out of me driving behind them. I waved at them and they smiled even more. When I passed them I waved goodbye and they all waved and said “bye.” Ah, what fun. For a minute I thought maybe I was driving my red convertible down the road, but then I remembered I don’t have it any longer and I was driving a 10 year old Honda CR3 with signs on it for the Methodist church. Hummm…what a difference 14 months makes.

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