It may seem strange that here it is March, 2012 and I am doing a blog on the dedication of Mahlatsini Methodist Church last July. The reason is really quite simple. I was so busy in July and until I left Swaziland on August 31, 2011, that I never got around to writing about it. The organized and analytical side of me can’t write about the new things that are happening this year in Swaziland until I tell you about some of the main events that I missed sharing with you.
On July 23, 2011 The official dedication was held for Mahlatsini. It was a race to get it finished before I left and to coordinate it with Bishop Siwa’s schedule. Bishop Siwa was coming to Swaziland for a conference in July so he came in a day early so he could dedicate Lomngeletjane Methodist Primary School on July 19th and stayed an extra day to dedication Mahlatsini.
First, let me set the scene for you: These first pictures were taken after the Lomngeletjane dedication late in the day on July 19th. This left four work days until the dedication would happen at 9:00 in the morning on July 23rd.
This was the view when I first pulled up on the church grounds. I was so excited because the majority of the building was painted. I also marveled at the typical African scene of children or women carrying fire wood on their heads for that evening's meal. Life was good.
Then we walked inside. There was still a lot of work going on. I was a bit more concerned, but the light inside wasn't good and if I didn't look closely I was happy. It was going to take some deep breathing and a good amount of faith, on my part to believe it would be finished on time.
And then I started looking closer. None of the windows had glass panes in them. Indeed, most of the windows weren't plastered into the wall yet. After the plastering was finished and dried the walls and windows needed to be painted. I was not a happy camper. But still, what could I do? Offer up some prayers, turn it all over to God and then calmly with a positive attitude get in my bakkie and drive the hour and 15 minutes back home.
Oki-doki! I had lots to do because my time was getting so short in Swaziland. The 23rd was not only the day of dedication. It was also the day I was leaving right after the dedication to catch a plane to South Africa to join a team from my home town in the States on a mission trip to Malawi. When I returned from Malawi I had just a few days before a from California came and then I had just a few days after the team left until I left for the States. I really had no choice other than to be calm because there wasn’t anything I could do about it.
Early in the morning on July 23rd Thoko, Thini and I headed out to Mahlatsini.
Can you imagine how excited Thoko, Thini and I were to see this beautifully finished building? This was nothing short of a miracle!
Didn't they decorate the inside beautifully? I was so surprised and very, very pleased.
Bishop Siwa starting to unveil the dedication plaques.
Bishop Siwa knocking three times on the door claiming the church in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost.
This is Fikile. I had visited her several times over the years at a school for the handicapped near Manzini. I didn't know she went to this church until after we started the building. In the planning stages I said I wanted a ramp so the gogo's could get into the building. Fikile was so excited to be able to enter her church on her own!
Rev. Nyameka saying a few words about the church and inviting us all to enter.
I am speaking to the congregation and Nomsa Hlope is translating for me.
The kids are sitting up in front at my request. I also asked that the gogo's sit up front. This is not the way the seating traditionally goes but they did as I asked. When I was speaking to the congregation I told them that it was the gogos, women and the children that touched my heart, and that is why I finished the church for them - so the elderly would have a decent place to worship and the children would have a place to come and learn about Jesus and also learn basic education concepts so they would be better prepared to go to school. I was pleased.
When the service was over, we were all served lunch. Thoko, Thini and I had to take ours to eat on the go because I had a plane to catch. We walked out a door on the side to avoid the crowds. This is what I saw:
The glazier still putting in windows! That is also when I realized that none of the windows had glass in them! They had opened them up so no one would notice. You gotta love Swaziland!!! We laughed about that all the way home. You will be happy to know that when I went back to check on things the second week in August, the work had all been finished.