An early start it certainly was as the tank overflowed about 6.00 p.m. And yours truly had to go out and turn it off! Then when we did get up at 7.00 there was no electricity, so a cold shower and no cup of tea or toast for breakfast. Not a good start to the day.
Thomas and Asifiwe picked us up at 8.30 and we headed off to Chivu village. This involved a road we hadn’t taken before, the first part of which made a ride at Alton Towers look lame by comparison. Chivu parish has four villages in it and therefore 4 churches. Pastor Joseph is the local priest and there are 3 evangelists. We were made extremely welcome and taken in to his house ……for breakfast. A mug of hot chai was served along with two pieces of shop bread each. The bread is dunked (or according to Dorothee, ‘dumped’!) into the chai. This is not Christine and I’s favourite drink as it has a distinct taste of cardamom, but I got to like the bread soaked in it.
At 9.30 ish we headed towards the church which was pretty packed. We were given the seats of honour at the front around the altar. Unfortunately I had a wooden chair covered in a kanga, so that 4 hours later my bottom had lost all sense of feeling. The chair was also balanced in front of a hole below the rush matting, so if I forgot and stood up to quickly I ended up lopsided with one foot in the hole.
Thomas and Asifiwe translated where necessary and I have to say that Pastor Joseph preached very well on the two most important commandments and temptation. He was also admirably brief (about 20 minutes). However there was a baptism and a lot if business after communion and then an auction of produce. Somehow we ended up with two papaya, a jack fruit, three eggs, several avocados, two bunches of onions and a bag of tomatoes! Of course we all had to introduce ourselves and say a few words. Dorothee impressed everyone by speaking in Swahili! It was all great fun and the singing and dancing was excellent, so the four hours actually went very quickly.
We were then taken back to the pastor’s house for lunch. Unfortunately Thomas hadn’t alerted him to our vegetarian ways so a goat had been killed in our honour. Nevertheless it did not go to waste and was thoroughly enjoyed by everyone else, while we enjoyed our old favourite, rice and beans!
Then we were taken to meet four Pamoja groups. They were sitting in groups under different trees around the church and we were to be introduced to each group. I suggested to Thomas that it might be better to bring them into the church so we could introduce ourselves only the once. This worked well and I then asked if anyone would like to tell us about how Pamoja had changed their lives. A very articulate man came up first, followed by a shy Muslim woman. Others followed and it was clear that this scheme was making a real difference to people’s lives. I recorded the interviews and Asifiwe’s translations, so I have lots of useful material. We were made to feel very welcome and our prayers for them were asked for as indeed we asked for their prayers in return. Once again I was struck by the depth of their faith.
We left eventually with blessings and thanks ringing in our ears. We climbed the steep hill out of the village and stopped to look back and take pictures. In the vast African landscape it looked so small, and yet here God is working in people’s lives as he is every where else. Going up the roller coaster is almost as bad as going down, particularly when you can’t see anything over the brow of the hill, but thanks to Imani’s driving skills we made it back at about 3.00.
Thomas suggested he bring another farmer for an interview at about 5.00, but suddenly the heavens have opened and it is raining like there will be no tomorrow. Thunder is rolling around the house and lightening is brightening the darkened room, because, of course the power is out. I hope Thomas will not try to go out until this storm has passed and I hope the power will be back in time for an evening meal……eggs, onions, tomatoes, papaya, avocados and jack fruit are on the menu.