Off to Zimbabwe
Our final evening at Cradle Moon included a night time bonfire by the river (and yes, we are sure we heard hippos nearby!), a true South African braai (a delicious meal of meats grilled over an open fire), and a final time of sharing and thanks that moved all our hearts to both love and action. The next morning we said a tearful goodbye to part of the HOPE Compassion Tour team – Autumn, you will always have my heart; Mark and Lin, we are indebted to you beyond words.
The rest of the South Carolina group (Kathy, the Jettes, and Frank and I) took off for Harare, Zimbabwe and a discipleship conference with participating churches from around southern African (Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, Mozambique, Angola, Malawi, and South Africa). The conference also marked the 30thanniversary of the hosting church. The weekend was a fabulous time of lessons, fellowship, and food – including a traditional Zimbabwean meal provided by the Harare church after Sunday’s service.
The teens and campus had a special track of lessons and activities during the conference, and Frank and I were pulled in to help with one of their “fun” activities. The campus and teens groups (about 50 students total) were to compete in a Pitch Perfect-style “riff off”. Frank and I were asked to be the judges – I know, hilarious. I resisted initially, but then thought about my desire to grow and stretch and experience new things during our year abroad, so I said “yes”. As you can imagine, we were completely out of our element and our league and our comfort zones! The song selections included songs with the word love, breakup songs, songs by Rihanna, Kids Kingdom songs, and African songs…. it was fabulous! Frank and I judging this “riff off” was as funny and outlandish as you can imagine, but we did it with happy and willing hearts and completely enjoyed it. (P.S. the campus group won)
A highlight of the conference was sharing meals and fellowship with disciples that we look forward to building deeper relationships with over the next year. Saturday night we had dinner with Rapula and Kedi Malejane. Rapula and Kedi served as “temporary” volunteer leaders for the Gaborone, Botswana church for 8 years and now serve there as fulltime staff. Frank and Rapula bonded over sports, business, and the history and culture of Botswana while Kedi and I shared our experiences in early childhood development. Together we dreamed about what we might do during our time there in August and September. On our last night in Harare we spent time with the Jettes and Edwin Shumba, the newly appointed evangelist of the Harare church. He expressed his heartfelt thanks to the Columbia Church and specific members for their long-term friendship and support.
One surprise of the conference was seeing a couple who had hosted us four years ago when we visited Port Elizabeth, South Africa. Noleen and I had a wonderful conversation about needing to dig more deeply in our Bibles, especially as we grew older in the Lord – she shared about some books that had been particularly helpful to her in recent months and I shared about the BEMA Discipleship podcasts. It was so heartening to find a friend in love with God’s word and longing to better know, understand, and live it out.