There are simply no words to describe this day adequately. Our last full day in Mwandi has been full indeed. We end the day preparing for one last night’s sleep in Simba House, with hearts full to overflowing with a mixture of so many feelings it seems impossible to describe them, but I’ll do my best.
Sorrow. We shed tears all morning this morning. We led the Mwandi Hospital Chapel this morning, focusing on a passage from Philippians 1:1-11. Each member of the team spoke words of love, thanksgiving and respect to the workers at the hospital, acknowledging our bond as brothers and sisters in Christ. Each team member also voiced a prayer for the hospital and mission as we prepare to take our leave. We sang and prayed together and shed tears as we bid farewell. Then it was on to the OVC where we again tried to share words of encouragement and love with the staff of that special place, this time focusing on Hebrews 11 and 12. We spoke of meeting young Adults in our time here this year who grew up as part of the OVC, who received scholarships for high school and even university who have come back to Mwandi to serve their community. We spoke of the reality that the staff of OVC may not always see the full fruit of their labor but the love they pour into these orphans and vulnerable children bears much fruit. They brought out a beautiful goodbye cake Deaconess Judith had baked for us and we shared it in fellowship, sang and prayed and shared tears of farewell. Then we passed through Kandiana one more time to share a farewell with the elderly orphans who live there, and with their wonderful caretaker Catherine. We asked if the residents would gather for a group photo and everyone did except the oldest man, who went back into his small room. This blind man emerged a few minutes later in a full suit and tie with his Bible in his hand. He explained that he was a deacon and he wanted to be properly dressed for the photo. Again, tears were shed as we bid these dear friends farewell not knowing if some of these farewells with these elderly ones might be forever.
Joy. Later this afternoon, we climbed into open air vehicles and traveled as Chief Yeta had encouraged to see the fledgling Peace Park that is seeking to re-introduce some of the native wildlife to the region. We first drove through fairly dense brush seeing impala, waterbucks, and common duikers. We thought we might not realize our hope of seeing zebra and wildebeest but we drove to another area of the park and came upon two large herds of each of these animals as the sun was beginning to set. Blessing upon blessing.
Gratitude. Tonight, the main choir of the UCZ church in Mwandi came to Simba and spent an hour singing for us accompanied by the drums. The harmonies, the joyful praise, the dancing, the drumming–all of it lifted us beyond ourselves in humble thanksgiving for this amazing gift. We shared cake and juice and fellowship as well giving a small contribution to the incredible music ministry they provide.
Peace. We leave this sacred place with the strong sense that our time here has been full: full of learning, fellowship, joy, laughter, sorrow, tears, friendships made and strengthened, faith deepened, love shared. We are at peace with what we have been able to do and to share, and most importantly with the way we have been able to simply “be” with the people of Mwandi.
Anticipation. Tomorrow morning we leave for two nights at Chobe Game Park in Botswana where we will see the exquisite beauty of the part of God’s creation called Africa. There are no words to describe the diverse beauty we will encounter. God is a masterful artist and we will see some of God’s greatest masterpieces. And then we will begin the two day journey home.
We may not have access to internet again until we get home. Thank you to those who have prayed for us–please keep the prayers coming through June 10th. Thank you for journeying with us. We are the lucky ones who got to be here in person. We will never be the same. Mwandi has changed us. God has changed us through our time together and through this place. I have a feeling God is not finished with us yet.