Easter, 2011

As I write this blog, I’m reflecting on a great “Easters” celebration.  Yes, the Swazis call it Easter with an “s” making it plural.  I’ve never quite figured out why that’s what they say, but I am guessing it is related to the multiple services that take place between Maundy Thursday afternoon and Easter Sunday morning.  And then the Monday following Easter is always a government & school holiday.  In the Methodist Church in Swaziland, the people from the various congregations in the circuit travel to a central location in the circuit on Thursday afternoon/evening.  They camp out at the location and attend services that go almost continuously ending early Sunday morning.   I attended several of these services my first Easter in Swaziland.  Since then I’ve done a variety of different things during the Easters weekend.  Here is a look into this year’s Easter celebration for me.

On Thursday evening I attended a service at the English speaking International Church in Ezulwini which is about 20 minutes from Manzini.  Rev. Michael Goodling delivered the message and served communion.  Rev. Goodling and his wife are Missionaries from the US.  His wife and teenage daughter are in the bible study I attend on Wednesday mornings.  His message focused on the preparations for Jesus’ crucifixion as told in Matthew, Luke & John starting with his Triumphant entry into Jerusalem as King of Kings, through teaching his disciples what it means to be a humble servant, predicting his death and the Last Supper.  The primary question he asked us to consider was “What would you do if you knew in 24 hours you would die?”  Very interesting question.  I realized how different my answer to that question is today compared to what it would have been in other seasons of my life.

The crown of thorns that Jesus wore was made from the Acacia tree which is very common in the African bush. I looked at this crown of thorns with a very different set of eyes than I did before I became so familiar with the pain and destruction these thorns can do.

Rev. Goodling

Washing the feet of a young man who is always available and willing to help others in any way he can.

On Friday morning, I went up to Mbabane to attend a Good Friday service at a small church where my friend Robin’s husband, Michael,  pastors.   The worship music and the sermon both fed my soul.  Michael started his message by asking us what motivated Christ to die on the cross willingly and what motivates us, personally, to be a Christian.  I thought of how this question tied in so perfectly with the question asked of a different audience the night before.  I had been pondering last night’s question on my drive to Mbabane.  Once again, I know that my answer today is much different than what it would have been during other seasons of my life.

After the service we took the kids from the Sandra Lee Center to Swaziland YWAM (Youth With A Mission) property for an Easter Egg hunt.  It was a cold, drizzly day but the kids were so excited to be going.  The makes (mothers) of the houses came as well.  We had kids crammed like little sardines in our cars.  I lost count of how many kids were in the back of my Bakkie!   We were greeted by a team of young adults from South Africa.  They put on a little skit about the Crucifixion and Resurrection for the kids and then took them outside for an Easter egg hunt.  A fun time was had by all.

The YWAM volunteers and the SLC kids.

Kids from Sandra Lee Center

The kids looked for colored hard boiled eggs and then were given a little bag with sweets. This is little Wandile with his goodies.

On Saturday, I helped Robin bake some goodies to take to the Sandra Lee Center for a braai (Afrikaans for BBQ) and Easter egg hunt with the kids.  It was still a cool day, but we were very thankful that the drizzle and fog was gone.

Michael braaing the chicken and boreworst with the beef still to come. When Swazi's braai, they cook lots of different kinds of meat because it is usually some sort of celebration. For some, a braai is the only time they have meat other than chicken.

Some of the kids and I waiting patiently. They entertained themselves by running their fingers through my hair.

Preparing to eat. The makes (mah-gays) bringing out the side dishes to go with that wonderful smelling (and tasting) meat.

Now, the kids are waiting patiently for their food. It amazes me how quietly they sat waiting especially since they were all very hungry and knew they could hunt the eggs with sweets in them after we ate.

We divided the kids into three different ages groups for the hunt: 1 & 2 year olds, 3 & 4 year olds and then 5 years and up.  A couple of the older kids helped us hide the eggs for the younger children.

After dinner we had the Easter Egg Hunt. Sweet little one year old Bheki wasn't quite sure what to make of the eggs, but loved the candy inside! All of the kids are so sweet with him. It is a joy to watch.

Sibongile was in the 3-4 year old group. She certainly knew what to do! I love this little one's smile.

The older kids off and running! They went so fast I had to do the hot - cold thing with them to find some of the eggs they missed. It's a good thing I did because they found many more eggs than the few I knew they missed! The kids were so sweet to their "siblings." The kids who found more eggs willingly gave to the kids who didn't find many. Nothing like a little bit of Christ's "Easters" teaching in action on Easter weekend!

Zinhle (2 yrs) and Owenkosi (1 yr) swinging like little monkeys on the jungle gym. How many mothers in the States would allow this? We'd be worried stiff. But they were fine and having a great time. Maybe we worry and shelter kids from the wrong things in the US. Just a thought.

Nomile wasn't so brave. She wanted to climb but was hesitant and didn't realize that the bars on the side were closer together. I showed her where to climb and she bravely climbed up. I must admit I wanted to hold her and protect her, but she made it and had a big grin on her face when she reached the top.

Nomile trying to negotiate the corner to go where the boys were. Nozi (the child to her right) kept trying to hurry her and she would tell her to stop. Notice Nomile was climbing without shoes. Nomile doesn't really like to go without shoes, but she couldn't keep her clogs on her feet so she had to leave them on the ground. So, Nomile tackled two things out of her comfort zone at once! Yebo!

Success!

And finally, the day was done.  It was a fun day, and I was exhausted.  Thankfully, Robin and Michael invited me to stay another night at their house because I’m not sure I could have made the drive back to Manzini.  The thought that kept running through my mind was “and there was morning and evening of another day.  And the Lord saw that it was good.”

I woke up Sunday morning to a bright sunny day!  Easter morning was here.  The Lord has risen!  I said good-bye to Robin and Michael and headed back to Manzini to attend a brunch and time of worship with my friend Julie, her daughter Ellie, Megan and the staff from Adventures in Mission.  It was another wonderful day full of family, friends (both new and old), children laughing, good food and most of all precious time deep in worship and praise for our Lord and savior Jesus Christ.  The kids went to one room to watch a Veggie Tales Easter DVD and the adults went to the living room to sing, worship and listen to a very good DVD about the resurrection.

It may be fall here, but God's beauty still abounds in this little country. It's almost as if God wants the beauty of his creation to stay vibrant and colorful to celebrate all His son did for us!

The Resurrection eggs. This was a great reminder of what "Easters" is all about.

Thank you Lord for putting such dear friends in my life and for an absolutely wonderful, meaningful 4 days in your word and sharing the same love for you and your son Jesus Christ with other believers in Christ.  It was all for your glory dear Lord.  All honor and praise are yours.

 

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