We had, to say the least, a full and exciting weekend. Our goal was Chingami, a church tucked behind a primary school. The adventure began with a drive down a road we have become all to familiar with in our time here. We seem always to go to the highway (term used loosely) west toward Ngunda. It is always a fun drive with people, markets, familiar churches, and cows, always cows. They are the true owners of the road. They move when they are ready and not before. Over have the churches we have visited are off that road either before the said junction or left at Ngunda. We stayed in a lodge in Neshua, a short distance away.
Friday in Chingami started with dinner, sadza, chicken and cold slaw (if the meals sound familiar to you they do to us as well, but we like them.). After dinner we started church. It had the familiar elements of a Zimbabwe worship service, one that I thoroughly enjoy. There is prayer, singing, lots and lots of singing and drumming. And African culture includes dances. These are not a couples thing, but solo expressions of praise and worship. Each church has its own variation on the main steps, but they include some rapid steps that are well choreographed. Shelton Christian Church members will be seeing some of this though it may well lose something in translation. The front of the church has a large space between the stage and the first row to have room for the celebration. The congregational music was over and following some prayer and introductions we had special music. It was always a group singing and the audience joined. Finally, it was my turn and I preached on the need to see outside the church to a lost world.
After the service I went outside to enjoy the sky. There are no street light, no electricity, very small fires, darkness was the word. As I looked up I was once again in awe of our great, vast God. The Souther Cross (which is my reference point) was visible, but amongst many more stars than I seen here in Chiredzi. Then I turned at looked North. During my sermon I mentioned we have different stars in America, The North Star, Big and Little Dipper, etc. But there it was, the Big Dipper hoovering low in the North West sky, just above the horizon. I was surprised at the moment of joy and connection to home it brought. I spent time looking at the Milky Way, they call it the Path of Stars. It was awesome!
Saturday morning we arose early, and arrived for our group breakfast, boiled egg, backed beans and either a peanut butter or butter sandwich. After breakfast more music and I gave my stewardship lesson, expanded to two hours this time. After the lesson time we went to the river (well pool in a very slow, small flowing river, but much deeper and cleaner than the last pool). There ten teenage girls and one adult woman were baptized. We had forty or fifty people along the bank watching, singing, and celebrating. Then it was back to the church for lunch (you know the menu by now) and preparation for a community visit. The church members divided up into two teams and went into the community to visit people. Some were believers who attended other churches and some were not believers. Each spent a little over an our and returned to the church. While the church members were visiting, Sherry and I went back to the lodge. Sherry was on the evening program.
Saturday night service was much the same as Friday with two great exceptions. First, to “headmen” came to the service. A community will have a chief and below him are various headmen. They are very important in the community. We found out they were there and that presented a challenge to Sherry as she is a woman. Women don’t generally speak to men. She has on several occasions. She shared her testimony (it is hers so ask her). Afterwards there was an invitation and one of the headmen came forward to repent. He has been very sick and felt like God has saved him for important work. A number of things were in play for that decision. I believe Sherry’s lesson was one of them. It was a powerful evening.
It was time to go for the night. We slept well and awake to warm water in a bucket sitting in the hall for a warm bath, no shower and Saturday morning was a cold bath. As we were leaving after lunch we packed everything in preparation to leave. Then the fun began. We had locked the door while we were in the room and I lost the key. We looked everywhere, except where it was. I unpacked my backpack, looked in the blankets, under the bed, under Sherry’s bed, under the extra bed, everywhere I could think. No luck. We called Alone, who was in a room down the hall for help. The owner had to go find another key to get us out. After breakfast we learned she found it under the bed. I am relieved she found it.
We had a great morning of worship. There was a great crowd there, with many, many kids. Every church we visited had kids. I taught them to “high 5″ and we enjoyed sharing them. Maybe they will keep it up or not. It was fun. We did the usual worship things and I preached on Christ giving us people to help us become the people God wants us to be, the last sermon I preached in Shelton before we left. We ate another meal (this one added millet, served like and with the sadza) and headed back home to Chiredzi after a half an hour or more of pictures. Everyone want a picture with Sherry, and some with me, too. Of course there were several stops, delivering church members home, and the pastor to his place.
All in all, it was a wonderful weekend. We have loved everywhere we have been while here and there is nowhere we have said, never again. We have met wonderful pastors and church leaders. Church members have been warm and welcoming. However, we spent more time there than anywhere we have been. It is partly due to that, but Chingami will always have a special place to us. I felt, and told them so, that when I left Sunday afternoon that “I left a part of my heart there. And if God brings me back to Zimbabwe (and I don’t know if he will but I can hope) my heart will bring me back to Chingami.
Sorry this is so long, and if you have made it to the end, thank you. May God bless you and keep you. May he use you and bring the joy of heart. And speaking of hearts, my heart is bringing me home as well. As the weeks pass, I think more and more of home and the people I love there. See you soon.