Today, Friday, we began at the Mukondwa Secondary School. Lynn spoke outside for the first of six times today to the students who were called not with a bell, but by a girl using a stick to hit a bucket hanging from a tree. Then he spoke to the church that meets there, and we were delighted to see they were using Bibles printed by Roger Dickson at African Christian Press in Cape Town.
We went on to Magamba School. The children, poor things, stood facing the sun as their headmaster instructed while Lynn preached and goats wandered through the school yard carrying on in their noisy way. Cows grazed nearby under an almost cloudless sky, and a dog knawed at his rangy hindquarters. The headmaster invited us in afterward and spoke these gracious words: "It is our custom not to host our guests outside. You must bring your shadow (your presence) inside so that we will know you and the memory of you will stay with us. We are a small school--only 320 students, 14 teachers, 6 student teachers. We are poor as you can see, but we are proud of our school. We want you to know that you are always welcome. We need your words of spiritual and moral encouragement--they are the hope of our people."
From there we drove many, many miles (1-1.5 hours) over dirt roads farther into the countryside than the Leverettts had previously travelled. Past huts and ox-plowed fields and stick fences and mountains and avacado and wild orange trees. We arrived late, finding the 4-month-old Chigondo church waiting for us under a tree. A flat metal post between two rocks served as our seat because we were guests; others sat in the dirt or on rocks. An elderly Christian man we had picked up to travel in the back of the pickup led the singing and spoke words of encouragement to the people before and after Lynn's message. A young man showed me a very good, almost life-size statue of himself that he'd carved and I snapped a photo of him beside it. Three women decided to place their hope in Christ, confessed him as Lord, and were entrusted to one of the brothers for baptism. To my sorrow, we could not stay to witness it--we had to go on to another church; they had to walk into the mountains to find a stream.
Our truck struggled down an ox-path to take us to the St. Clements church an hour or so away. When we finally arrived--very late--the women stood by their huts at the end of a narrow foot path through the grass, singing us in like angels welcoming us home to heaven. The men wanted them to come sit under the trees near our truck, but I couldn't wait to greet these sisters of mine. I felt so joyful that I scurried down the path, my arms opened wide. We greeted with hugs and laughter, like long-lost friends. I know the Spirit of God is among them and He delighted my soul in their company. Again Lynn spoke and the old man lifted our hearts--and their voices--in Shona praise. Three more came to express their faith and request baptism.
Too soon, we made our way back through the rugged creek-bed-of-a-road and on to the Maruta church. There are many widows there, and they pleaded for our help. Brother Godwin will collect all requests so that we can prayerfully discern where and how to spend our Lord's money. Two little girls sat near me while Lynn preached and could not seem to take their eyes from me--no shyness in them; they met my gaze measure for measure. Afterward I hugged them and spoke to them and asked to take our picture together. Another six girls hurried to our side to be included before the photo was taken.
So, this is what it's like, I said to God. Later, when I am not on a borrowed computer, I will take time to better express my heart. But this feeling I have is what it's like to meet a people who suffer greatly, who put their faith and hope in God, who will accept us gladly as their brothers and sisters in Christ, who yearn to know more of our Lord, who walk miles and miles to share the gospel or receive it. I thank the Father for showing me these things and for filling my heart to overflowing.
Continue your prayers. God has been with us in mighty ways that I will be able to share when I return home.
Love and thumbs up, Caron [it will make more sense later :)