Women at a Wedding

Women at a Wedding
These ladies were guests at the tribal wedding of Thokozani and Ngoblie in July of 2008. Their joyous smiles say it all.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Singing with Thokozani

The Last Day

Sunday July 25, 2010

Sunday was our last in Swaziland. It is always so sad to say goodbye, and it seems with each passing visit it becomes harder. To come to know people on such an intimate level, to share their stories and to be a part of their lives is indeed an honor and a privilege, and I always leave with the wonder of if we shall ever meet again. I try not to think in those terms. I have never left Swaziland with thoughts that I’ll never return, nor have I committed in my heart to definitely return. A trip such as this is difficult on so
We started the day with church service. Once again the powers that be (Make Janice) directed that I bring the word of God. I think it is ironic that one who continues to struggle to define his own faith is repeatedly asked to speak in the Zionist church. I think it assumed that since I am male and older, that I somehow would have something to impart of spiritual profundity, but luckily, after the all night vigil, most people were nodding and some were nearly falling out of their chairs. Again, I was brief and if I committed any breaches in protocol no one seemed to be awake enough to notice.
After service the first round of goodbyes commenced. I will always be grateful for the honor bestowed upon us by the congregation and we have developed friendships that will last a lifetime, irrespective of time and distance. Babe (now Bishop) Mkhonta insisted we stop by his homestead for jut a few moments, and we did so. He offered a song and a blessing for our journey. He is such a kind and honorable man. I just hope that being the Bishop doesn’t prove too stressful for him.
The next order of business was to stimulate the economy of Swaziland one last time, so in the remaining days of daylight we stopped at the market to empty our pockets and fill our suitcases.
Back at the hotel, the core group of many of our closest friends stopped by, which has almost become a tradition, Thokozani, his wife Ngobeli, Vuyo, Bela and Sandile. Of course when more than two Swazi’s get together singing breaks out, and so it was. There we were, all eleven of us and our five friends singing and dreading the time we must say goodbye. But alas, we did, and it was difficult. I am so grateful to have again had this experience.

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Consecration

The Consecration

The Consecration

Saturday July 24, 2010

The Consecration of the Bishop

Four years ago on my first trip to Swaziland, the first face I saw when we deplaned in Johannesburg was that of Babe Mkhonta. Over the past two trips he has been our constant companion and he has spent many hours travelling with our teams throughout Swaziland. I have come to know him as a kind and compassionate man who cares deeply for the people of his church and the people of Swaziland. He has served as Pastor of Kukhany Okusha and with the Bishop’s failing health and decision to retire, Babe Mkhonta was selected to succeed the Bishop. Today was his consecration ceremony, a four hour church service, a break for dinner (a huge feast) and then an all night vigil.
Preparations have been underway all week for the high pomp and protocol of this event, including a cow slaughter on Thursday to feed the numerous guests that were expected. The church has gotten touch-up painting, cleaning and decoration and there has been an aura of anticipation throughout the membership.
We arrived at 12:00 noon as instructed and again wore the uniforms of Kukhany Okusha. The church yard soon began to fill with honored guests from throughout Swaziland, South Africa and even the U. S. It was truly amazing to see all of the different priests and bishops from throughout the region, each wearing the robe and carrying the staff of their respective congregations and affiliations. Babe Mkonta arrived, accompanied by the current Bishop, Bishop Dlamini, and they led the procession into the church. There was much protocol to be considered, especially who sat where. The Archbishop, who presides over the denomination of which Kukhany Okusha belongs, seemed to be the highest ranking clergy in attendance. Global Ministries, which is headquartered in Indianapolis and under whose auspices our team operates, sent a delegation as well.
There was much singing and dancing and praying and speaking. Being male and the oldest member of our group, and at the request (direction) of Make Janice Wilson, our team captain, I spoke on behalf of our group. I know just enough to avoid any gaffes in protocol and my words were brief, but adequate I feel.
After a four or five hour service, a break was called and food was served. As we have become accustom to, status dictates where and what you are served. We were not seated at the tables that were reserved for visiting priests and bishops, but we were served huge plates of chicken, beef, hominy, rice, beans and salad. We were also afforded a spoon. Those who ranked below us in status were served either chicken or beef and pap, which is much like corn meal mush.
At 9:00 PM the service reconvened and the all night vigil began. This seemed a good time to take our leave, so we boarded our vans and headed back to our accommodations. The vigil would continue without our presence.