As many of you know, I got back from South Africa and Zimbabwe Ash Wednesday Mar 5. I’ve downloaded a few photos for Facebook. Thank you for all your prayers and love. Folks ask how was it? I say, “Amazing–challenging and rewarding and everything in between.”
South Africa seems advanced (one week there in Johannesburg and then Cape Town where I went to Robben Island and saw the cell where Nelson Mandela spent 17 out of his 27 years in prison), arranged by my former Lancaster Seminary student Thulani Ndlazi, who had me lead two retreats.
Zimbabwe’s people are resilient and welcoming in the face of high unemployment and inferior infrastructure (five weeks there). I was stationed at Mhondoro Presbyterian High School (90 miles southwest of Harare on a “road that is no road” as my host Chaplain Staben Maenda would say), without Internet access. I framed my time there as “walking” with students and teachers: I would sit at an outdoor stone table and kids would gather around, ask questions, converse and pray; or I’d sit in the faculty staff room and the same thing would happen. I preached four out of five Sundays and led four Bible Studies for the staff and teachers. Their Gospel singing is something to be experienced! Wow.
I attended a Presbytery meeting where Zimbabwean friend Paul Neshangwe was installed and his wife Lydia was licensed as pastors of two churches in Bulawayo (they were here in Denver five years while Lydia studied at Denver Seminary). Paul arranged for a young unemployed man Willingmore (with his wife Patience) to be the driver and guide to take three of us in Paul’s car to Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe’s national treasure as one of the seven wonders of the natural world (a successful experiment for future mission partners).
On my last Sunday afternoon March 2nd the students organized a festival going away celebration with prayers, singing, dancing and speeches, and on Monday night March 3rd the teachers and administration held a farewell dinner. Both events were lovely and moving. Thank all of you for your love and prayers.
How can we integrate such transforming experiences into our life in the US?