[Photo: Andy and Mazvita at Mazvita’s home]
Sunday evening, November 1.
The trip was long (35 hours, door-to-door) but it was much easier than I’d expected. And the last 4 ½ hours – a pickup truck ride on a highway through the night-time countryside – was filled with wonderful conversation with two of our hosts, the Rev. Christopher Maphosa and the Rev. Dr. Gift Machinga (CST M.A.R.E. and D.Min.). We learned much about the social, church, and governmental situations in the country and what sort of concerns we can expect the workshop participants to bring. We also shared personal stories — of how we met our spouses and what our work is like and what our children are up to.
We arrived at the Machinga house at about 2:30am, in time to get 5 hours of sleep before Sunday worship at one of the congregations Gift is serving, the 1500-member Hilltop United Methodist church, the oldest Methodist congregation in Zimbabwe. While Frank slept in preparation for his workshop presentations, Mark and I rode to the church with Gift and Matzvita.
We were very pleased to learn that Mazvita was to preach. In her usual quiet way she had insisted to us that she doesn’t preach, she teaches. And yes, it turned out that once in the pulpit she did teach – but she also rocked the place with what was clearly (not very quiet) preaching, and she led the hundreds of people in spontaneous singing throughout her message.
Mark and I had our own personal translators, since the service was all in Shona. UMC District Superintendent, Tazvionepi Nyarota interpreted for Mark, and recent university psychology graduate Kumbirai Mazaiwana was my interpreter. The only instruments were dried gourds and drums. They were perfect. And the voices created, as Mark put it, a completely different world than the one we’re used to, as complex harmonies mingled with the rhythms of clapping and dancing feet and transported us. I can’t even begin to describe how incredible this 2 hours was. We’re scheduled to leave on Friday, but staying though next Sunday morning looks very tempting….. (Note to our families: Just kidding.).
This evening Christopher and Nancy Maphosa welcomed us into their home for conversation and a meal – a feast, really. As with all the people we’ve met, they are so very gracious and generous.
Tomorrow (Monday) we’ll see some of Mutare and the surrounding area — before the workshop starts on Tuesday.
One other thing: Most of today we and much of the rest of the city were without electricity (which meant, among other things, that no internet sites were open for us to post to this blog or to email news). After the power came back on at 10pm, Gift told us that more and more Sundays the power is cut without explanation. And recently water is being cut as well, possibly a result of shortages toward the end of the dry season that is now ending.