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Children with toys

Yesterday, Jessie and I saw a very creative, artistic and fun-looking playground at the North Carolina Zoo.  If the sculptured metal slides, monkey bars, and other colorful garden-type equipment had been larger even I might have tried one.  It was called Garden Friends Playground.  Every thing was shaped like flowers and things one would find in a garden and it was teeming with joyful children.  I’m sorry I did not take a picture of it for you.

Once home, I thought about our little friends in Africa and wondered how they would have reacted to this marvelous set of activity “toys.”  You see, these little children make their own toys.  If you look closely at this picture you will see a soccer ball made of plastic bags and I think the little fellow with his hand on his forehead must have been wondering what to do with his toy that an older brother had made for him. In their simple way they are creative too.  Children are children the world over.  They all need joy and love.

Absolutely, two different worlds ~ yesterday’s children were surrounded by lush beauty and my African children are surrounded by dust and dirt.   Most would not know what a flower garden looks like.  As Jessie says, we have won the birth lottery.   I wonder why?

Jessie and  I at St. Luke's.

We had a great time with great people.

Jessie preaching.

I thought you might like to see this!  Put a stole on that girl.

2014-02-09 13.38.00

Then I had my turn.

blind woman

This past Sunday (9 February 2014) Jessie and I had a most wonderful day at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Salisbury.  It is their Foundation that has generously given to Msalato to provide food for the students.  They invited us to come and “tell the story” on what they call Foundation Sunday.  We were allowed sermon time which was also generous of their interim priest, Melanie Mudge whom I had not seen in years.  That in itself was joy.  And you should have seen Jessie in the pulpit ~ she’s a natural.

This, though, has fired my imagination:  Although hundreds of thousand of miles apart (Africa and North Carolina), rich and poor, young and old, we human beings seem to have within us the gift of hospitality.  When visiting a village church in Tanzania, we usually have to get up in the dark and drive on rutted, dirt roads for several hours.  Sunday, we arose at 4:00 a.m. to drive to Salisbury in the pitch dark on back roads.  When we arrive in the villages we are first met by the priest and served tea from thermos jugs with chapattis (sort of a soft flour or corn taco).  Sunday the priest pulled up just ahead of us and gave us a wonderful welcome.  A lovely lady of the parish had already arrived with Rooibos tea and coffee in similar thermos jugs.  She had made scones and even brought soft butter.  The first service was at 8:00.

In Africa after church which is most likely to last at least 3 hours, we are feted to a meal in the priest’s home (hut).  The villagers help to prepare the food, simple fare, but it is all they have to offer.  Generosity and hospitality abound.  After the 10:30 service at St. Luke’s, which was longer than usual because they had an election to attend to, plus two visiting preachers (us), we  were invited to lunch with the priest and the Board members in a private home (not a hut!).  Here too, there was help in the kitchen with food prepared on an AGA stove, not a charcoal brazier.  The fare was different, but the feeling of the same hospitality as in our beloved villages remained with me. We usually say goodbye to the villagers by candle light or torches.  It was nearly dark when we got home to Pinehurst and Whispering Pines Sunday night.  So much had seemed the same to me.  Maybe I am trying to say we are not really all that different.

Pictures were taken after the service which I hope will be sent to us so we can post them for you.  This picture is simply Jessie feeding a blind beggar at our door.  Jesus tells us over and over to tend his sheep and feed the poor.  St.  Luke’s honors that.

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