Sunday, September 6, 2009

Sunday Worship at Lomngeletjane

I went up to Lomngeletjane to worship this morning. I had a framed picture of each team that worked there this summer that I wanted to present to the congregation. I have been waiting to do so because I wanted Enoch Malelala, the Lomngeletjane Steward and also a local preacher, to be there when I presented it. The Lomngeletjane society (congregation) is one of many, many small societies in Swaziland that don’t have a pastor assigned to it. Local preachers, stewards or the pastors take turns rotating between them. I had to wait quite a while before Enoch was scheduled to go back to Lomngeletjane.

I was surprised when I got there because Benyani, one of the assistant pastors was there as well as another local preacher and a few people from St. Paul’s. Benyani was there to give communion but I didn’t understand why he didn’t preach and save the local preacher from coming. I wondered just a bit if it was because I had asked Enoch when he would be going to Lomngeletjane and I said I wanted to come when he was there. Then perhaps the schedule changed, but they came anyway because they knew I was coming.

As always, I understood very, very little of the service but I felt like I belonged there with my other family. I love to sit in these small societies and watch the interaction between the people, especially between the Makes (mothers, pronounced maggay), the Gogos (grandmothers) and the children. As soon as a child is old enough to walk and sit by themselves, they sit with the rest of the children in the front of the church (in this case one of Lomngelejtanes’s classrooms) all by themselves. It never ceases to amaze me how quietly they sit. But if a smaller one gets sleepy or has to go to the toilet, one of the Makes, Gogos or even an older youth quietly gets up to take care of the child whether it belongs to them or not. As I sat there watching the adorable children I kept thinking of the African saying that it takes a whole village to raise a child and how true it is; especially with the twins, Tiphelele and Tiphotakhe and their little cousin, Musa who just turned 3. If a gogo was holding one child and another one needed something, another gogo just matter-of-factly picked up the child and took care of it. Mid way through the service when a song was being sung, Zitsile quietly got up and led all of the children out of the room. I assumed they were going to Sunday school, but found that instead they were all going to the latrines for a potty break! Then just as quietly, when each child was finished they all came back in together and took their seat.

Everyone was so pleased with the team pictures and very honored to receive them. They said how much they enjoyed getting to know the people and how much they miss them. The also said how blessed they were to have me here as one of their family because if it wasn’t for me, they would have never met their dear new friends. I felt very honored to be in that position. Of course they also told me to relay to the teams that they must all come back to their home in Swaziland!

After the service they had a “family meal.” I know it was because of all the visitors, including me, but as always the food was delicious and it was wonderful to see everyone eating together, though not everyone sat at the tables. The children and most of the gogos and makes sat together in another part of the room. Just like home…someone has to watch over and take care of the children.

Tiphelele looked very good. Her development is slower than her sister, but she looked healthy. She kept looking at me and after the service I actually got a few smiles out of her. I was afraid to try and hold her though because she often cries when she leaves the safety of her make’s or gogos arms. Musa, her little cousin kept watching me during the service and playing shy. I don’t think he knew what to do because he usually sees me at the house. I could see his little brain thinking I wasn’t supposed to be here, I was supposed to be at his house. Finally after lunch I went up to him to “high 5” with him. He had just a little bit of chicken left in his greasy little hands. It was so cute to watch him try to figure out what to do. He wanted to eat the chicken and he knew his hands were dirty and he shouldn’t touch anything but he wanted to high 5. He finally figured it out and gave me a high five and a big smile. We were both happy.

Some pictures from today:

1. Tiphelele in the arms of her Auntie.

2. Musa pretending to read the bible (I think he was really trying to sneak peeks at me.)

3. Tiphelele’s two brothers, Innocent (sleeping in his chair) and Meluleki.

4. Tiphotakhe standing at the bench entertaining herself during the service.

5. Enoch and Zitsile after opening the presents that contained the pictures.

6. Enoch walking through the congregation showing everyone the pictures.

1 comment:

Erin said...

oh chris! it's so good to hear more about lomngeletjane! i miss swaziland and lomngeletjane! the worship service is one of my favorite memories of the trip! ;-)