Consider the Birds

"We have so many ladies who are now waiting to hear from you. They are like small birds with their mouths open waiting to be fed by their mothers."
Reverend S Lumwe - March 2006

Our tears have now mingled with the African sisters we have come to know and love. It will be difficult for the angel stenographers in charge of counting tears to separate which one goes into which bottle!

The eighty plus women have been fed and nurtured, they have grown in spirit and in truth, we have already seen a small portion of the harvest when the attendees gathered an offering of rice and staples, for us to take to the orphanage for the children.

Our return ride from the Irente Center (the compound housing the blind, disabled and baby orphanage) brought another potentially terrifying drive - but I would break into the African chorus with our three African members:

"Hallelujah HAH, Hallelujah HAH, Hallelujah HAH..."

Maria, the oldest, kept at it for me to learn to carry the tune, while Margaret and Joness would giggle at my efforts to ward off my fears with praise. Then Maria broke into a song of her own making. Each chorus she would make us a verse regarding a member of the team or something concerning the conference. The other women would offer the responsive chorus:

"wonderful, wonderful, wonderful.."

At one point, her chorus stopped abruptly, interrupted by tears of joy, thanksgiving and sadness at our soon departure. S took time to explain some of her refrains: "Thank God for sending C to us we pray she comes again. Thank God for sending D to us..." Thank god for His mercy and love toward us, may it never end."

We have had the humbling privilege to travel (by bus) the long steep mountainous roads these women walk daily. We have experienced their servanthood through bucket after bucket of boiling hot water that has been carried down the 100 yard precarious path so six white women could bathe in hot water born on the burden of the third world each morning and evening. Our hunger has been satisfied by a cook and housegirl who arrive before dawn to begin preparations in virtual darkness and stay well into the night cooking by candlelight a hearty meal. We sit enjoying a leisurely dinner and conversation while they wait - so they can clear the table, and set the table for the next day come the following sunrise.

They were described to us as "birds" waiting to be fed the spiritual food of the Living God. At times I have felt like a beast - our tender feet, sore backs and bones from traversing the cobblestone incline up to the church each day. We have consumed more water individually than they probably see in a month. And as for the toilet paper we have used - at each request for more rolls, a quizzical look would come across their face - I'm sure they could not imagine wasting so much of such a precious commodity as paper.

"Even Solomon in all His glory was not clothed as these." Matthew 6:29

Twenty or so of the conference Queens arrived to bid us farewell. They shook our hands, hugged us, blessed us and sang. Eager to send us off with songs of Thanksgiving and praise to the God we all served well over the course of our time together.

And their faces were like that of angels.

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