Day 7 dawned with yet another warm day under cloudless African skies, and being the Sabbath, we allowed ourselves the luxury of a slightly later start as we arose and put on our Sunday finest. This involved much smoothing out of suitcase creases and brushing off of the all-pervasive African dust, the results appearing agreeable to all.
Those living off-site at the mission, arrived back at the college to find our local African friends and hosts somewhat subdued, as the local football team, the Kaiser Chiefs, had lost the South African Cup Final on penalties – a fate that we in England are more than able to sympathise with.
So creases, dust and penalty shoot-outs aside, we grabbed some breakfast, and looked forward to another stimulating, challenging and enthralling day of our programme.
Today being Sunday we were invited to the Hope for Africa Mission Church service, where there appeared to be a choice of option1: the first service from 08:00 to 10:40, option 2: the second service, from 10:45 to 14:00 or the third combined option - a mere six hours from 08:00 to 14:00, but with the benefit of a five minute break.
We went for option 2 and arrived to be greeted by fully voiced, and even more fully amplified, African Gospel singing which built up to a crescendo, announcing to rapturous applause the arrival of the pastor, Bishop Dr. M H Mahlungu.
The announcements continued, the pace quickened, the expectations grew, until it was our turn – our own individual announcements, our own greetings and more applause.
The service began, in English with a Ndebele translation, Rob gave his talk, entitled on the order of service as ‘Word of Encouragement – United Kingdom’. Having been suitably encouraged we moved on via several even more passionate Gospel songs to ‘Word of Encouragement – Kenya’
‘Word of Encouragement – Kenya’ gave us the story of Noah, in great depth, with great animation and with even greater volume. The Kenyan Pastor Samuel paced back and forth, closely followed by Jack, the Ndebele interpreter.
Pastor Samuel’s address got more passionate as did Jack’s Ndebele translation, Pastor Samuel’s address got even louder as did Jack’s Ndebele translation. Pastor Samuel paced to the left as did Jack, Pastor Samuel paced to the right as did Jack, and occasionally Pastor Samuel paced to the left whilst Jack paced to the right, resulting in mid-podium collisions but the message continued relentlessly.
Eventually we were called onto the stage to sing our unaccompanied version of ‘Jesus all for Jesus’ which drew warm applause, so it must have transposed any barriers of language and culture.
And in many ways that sums up our first week here – any challenges that we’ve met in an exciting, uplifting, tiring, dusty, week, made so worthwhile by the experience of a common sharing, respect and love in God’s name.by Rod