We all did different things today. Adrian, Caroline and Jeremy went to church in the Cathedral arriving, rather embarrassingly half an hour late. Unusually, and not a little surprisingly, the service had started on time! They managed to get a good 90 minutes of church though so did not miss out.
Maggie and Andrew went with the Bishop (in the air conditioned car!) to St Luke’s at Mandari, about half an hour away, close to where the family day was held. We arrived about 10am in time for the last 40 mins or so of the 8am service. The church building was literally overflowing with people and the vehicle was greeted by hoards of excited children. This service was conducted in English and the Sunday school sang and danced for us – some great lyrics which we are trying to remember so we can replicate at home! Tea and mandazi at the archdeacon’s followed before the next service which was conducted in Bari, the local language.
The Mother’s Union led the procession through a crowd of children to the church which was already full. There must have been about 200-250 people, more when the choirs came in, and 50 or so outside. Kids were peeking in through the window too, trying to get a look in. Three babies were dedicated and their mothers welcomed. Again the music was great with at least 3 choirs, several hymns (fun singing from a Bari hymn book), and a fair bit of movement, clapping and general joy.
Andrew preached well and the Bishop gave some inspiring motivational talks. We left with gifts, including 2 chickens, over 4 hours later, fairly warm (!) but throroughly welcomed and energised. It was fabulous, genuine and generous in every way. Please accept the greetings and love sent from this wonderful community as they asked us to pass them on.
After shaking literally about 100 hands, many of them those of children, we were given a feast of delicious food all cooked over fires outside by the women. The number and size of the pans was phenomenal and the work involved was unimaginable. No effort was spared to ensure our comfort and we left feeling deeply grateful with many new friends.
Cheryl, our new friend from Australia who is training diocesan and development staff went with Rachel to Kiri. It was a bumpy ride along the heavily rutted road, but in the good company of visiting clergy and Elly, the Project Coordinator from Kajo Keji Diocese. On arrival we were welcomed with a tasty snack of rice and tea and taken to see one of the small businesses producing Shea butter which has been having a very encouraging influence on their lives. We then had a warm welcome at their church, with excellent interpretation by Elly which helped us to feel very much part of the service. It was a welcome break to move outside to sit in the shade of the Mango Tree to hear people’s testimonies. Many were keen to explain the benefits of CCMP, the Tear Fund project which helps develop the link between church and community through income generating activities. We were given a delicious lunch and then set off to join the Team at Joseph’s House.
Joseph Abba hosted us and some of his family and colleagues for supper at his home this evening. Another amazing feast prepared by Joseph’s wife and friends. It was lovely to see the house as the Cress family at home have been very generous and faithful in their support for this. The garden is looking very promising – growing vegetables – challenging due to the lack of rain.
Anticipation is growing by the minute for the grand opening of the Liwolo clinic tomorrow!