Tuesday, July 19th was a very, very big and emotional day. It was the official opening and dedication of Lomngeletjane Methodist Primary School. The ceremony was supposed to start at 9:00 (or between 9 and 10). It finally started at 10:30! Many people arrived between 11:00 and 12:00. Chief Lomngeletjane didn’t arrive until 12:30! The Chief however “wasn’t late. He was detained!” Despite it starting so late, it was a very nice ceremony.
The students waiting for the ceremony to start. Notice the boys with grey trousers and all of the nice looking maroon jerseys (sweaters) and track suits. These were bought for the children through funds donated to One Child at a Time, One Heart at a Time.
You may notice that some of the boys in this picture have on khaki shirts and trousers. These are older uniforms. Usually the kids have two uniforms. One they wear on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday. The other they wear on Wednesdays and Fridays. The boys at Lomngeletjane wear khaki shirts and pants on some days and grey on the other days. The plan is to transition them to grey so we bought the boys grey trousers and shirts. The reason for two uniforms is so that the one can be cleaned while the other is being worn. In reality, most children in the rural schools are lucky to have one uniform, let alone two!
The ceremony was opened by Rev. Nyameka and then handed over to the Bishop to give a talk and pray. This is Bishop Siwa, currently the Bishop of the Highveld and Swaziland District. He is also the Presiding Bishop - elect and starting in January he will be the Bishop over all of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa.
Bishop Siwa gave a very good talk. His scripture was from Psalms 1:1-3: “Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the way of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.” He went on to say that a person’s heart defines the person, not the way he looks or the education he receives. An educated man with a hard heart who does not love the Lord will use his education for personal gain or even to harm others. But one who has a heart for God and walks in the ways of the Lord will use his education for the good of others. Therefore, since Lomngeletjane is a mission school, it must teach the children the way of the Lord so that they will grow up to be strong, Christian leaders for the good of their community, Swaziland and even the world. He said it was the church and teacher’s responsibility to help the children learn how to develop a vessel to hold the water so that he or she can bear much fruit.
After Bishop closed his talk with a prayer, we walked down to the classrooms where the dedication plaque had been mounted on the wall. In this picture, Bishop Siwa is cutting the ribbon covering the dedication plaque.
Rev. Nyameka (L) and Bishop Siwa (R) unveiling the plaque.
Bishop Siwa saying a blessing over the school, the school grounds, the teachers and all of the children who are and will be attending this school.
Then we moved to one of the new classrooms. Bishop Siwa is holding the keys to it which will be officially turned over to the Head Teacher (Senele Shongwe) and the REO (Regional Educational Office). Bishop Siwa stated that it is the Methodist Church’s responsibility to teach the children the ways of the Lord, but it is the REO who has the responsibility of ensuring that the children have a good education.
Bishop Siwa unlocking the door.
Bishop Siwa knocked 3 times on the door calling for the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit to be present as he opens the door and we enter.
Bishop Siwa blessing the classroom and leading us to prayer walk through it. I could feel the Holy Spirit’s presence as we were doing this. It was way cool! This is when I really knew that we have done a good thing and that the Lord is pleased.
The inside of the classroom.
After the prayers and blessing of the classrooms, there were more speeches with occasional breaks of entertainment by the children.
The Lomngeletjane Choir. They had beautiful voices. They sounded more like high school kids than primary kids. The young man who is "conducting" is somewhat of a "naughty" boy (or a class clown). His name is Yusumuzi Shabangu. He is 13 years old and in the 4th grade. He got a complete new uniform last week: new shoes, socks, trousers, shirt, underwear, jersey and shoe polish. He grew a few inches on the spot as he stood taller. I was so surprised to see him conducting the choir. Granted he obviously likes the attention, but he really knew how to lead the choir. This young man has some talent. I'm going to keep my eye on this young man. I want to get to know more about him and try to encourage him to do well in school so he can get a good education.
John Dlamini, the builder we used for the first four-classroom block, the staff room/storage building, the latrines and the teacher's house. He is a member of the community and is now the head of the school committee.
The kids doing the "gumboot" dance. This is always on the agenda for ceremonies at schools. It is a non-sense skit/dance that is created and performed by the students. It is usually a spoof on "life and/or different jobs." The kids, parents and teachers always love it. I must say it is funny, even if I don't quite get the point of it.
Sigombeni High School male traditional dancers. Their dance also had a theme welcoming Lomngeletjane Primary school to the community. Sigombeni High School is the closest high school. It is about 4 to 5 km away if you travel there via the road.
Lomngeletjane girls doing a choreographed line dance.
Lomngeletjane girls performing traditional Swazi dances. They were very good.
Lomngeletjane boys traditional dancers. The slim guy at the rear of the group lost his dance attire (a skirt) while he was dancing. It was so good I had given him underpants the day before! They were red and I must say they fit him pretty well! I thanked God the boy a pair and was wearing them! When one of the little girls kicked high, her skirt came apart a little and I could see her brand new pink panties!
This young man was in the choir. I sent Thoko a text message while they were singing telling her we missed a child! How do you like my Swazi attire? Every one thought I was very beautiful and were so happy that I was now a real Swazi!
The ceremony ended around 3:00 and then we were served lunch. From Lomngeletjane I drove to Mahlatsini to take them some paint. Thoko, Thini and Sibongile drove with me. We were even more blessed when we got to the church and saw that the progress that is being made is very good. It was a long, great day full of blessings. Thoko and I talked about the day’s events the entire way home. We reminisced about how we got to know each other. She was the person that cleaned my house so it was ready for me. Who would have guessed back then that we would become so close! I couldn’t help but sing “the Lord is good to me, and so I thank the Lord” over and over and over again. By the time I took the ladies home and got home myself, it was about 8:30.
"To the Glory of God." I am always saying "It's all for the Glory of God" when I'm thanked for all the things I've done. It was so special to see those words on the plaque. Maybe they have been listening to me!
Once again, I want to thank all of those who have so graciously and generously donated to One Child at a Time, One Heart at a Time making today possible. I also want to thank the members of the teams that have come and given of their time, energy and money to make this school a reality. The teams are: 2008- First United Methodist Church, Round Rock, TX; 2009 – Munholland Methodist Church, New Orleans, LA and Belmont United Methodist Church, Nashville, TN; and Individual United Methodist Volunteers in Mission Jeri and Gary Carson-Hull; 2010: McNeese University Wesleyan Center, Lake Charles, LA, and 2011: California-Nevada Conference United Methodist Women. Unkulunkulu Abusisi! (God bless you!)