So, this is Pastor. His name is Mlungisi Dlamini to be exact, and yes, I asked. He is a real Pastor. His church is near where we are staying. And the congregation is about 75 people strong. Pastor wears a lot of hats. He preaches at this amazing church, he works with the youth in his community, he recently ran for Parliament (and only lost by 54 votes!), and he is a wonderful part of our adoption agency’s family. Pastor is supposed to be our driver. But he is much more than that. By the end of our first day, I knew he was going to be my very good friend and advisor.
Pastor is teaching me his language. I am teaching him the little Hawaiian that I know — Aloha! He is teaching me interesting little tidbits about life here. I am teaching him knock knock jokes. Badly. (You’re supposed to say banana three times, then orange, not orange three times, then orange again!)
How’s this for an interesting tidbit. Here they call speedbumps, sleeping cops. It just cracks me up.
So, this morning we attended a service at Pastor’s church. It was an eye-opener on many levels. The church was a simple building made of wooden planks with a tin roof. It was insulated by sheets of plastic. Our very soft-spoken friend is a fiery preacher and he was inspiring to listen to and watch. He would preach in English and his wife would translate, all while matching his tone, volume, and intensity. Their words would overlap and weave together and for me, at least, this made the sermon that much more beautiful.
There were about 60 adults and perhaps 2 dozen children in attendance. The children were wonderfully behaved. If they got antsy, they just wandered outside for a bit and wandered back in when they felt like it. The music was beautiful and heartfelt. It was a true place of worship and it was an honor to be there. The only part that was difficult for me was when Pastor asked me go to the front and say a few words. I was so overwhelmed by being there in the first place that I felt choked up the entire time.
After the service, we spent a short time outside talking with Pastor’s wife and some others. We were introduced to a couple from England/Arkansas that are working to build a classroom for Pastor’s church. I’ve been invited back to see school in session. I can’t wait.
At one point during the conversation, I turned slightly to see a group of four boys staring at me. The littlest one walked up to me and took my hand. It was absolutely the sweetest thing. I bent down and introduced myself to each one in turn. They were so shy that they whispered. They really liked my camera and got a huge kick out of picture of a monkey that I showed them. I told Pastor that next week, I need to wear pants to church. I want to play with the children!
I knew this trip was going to be magical. What I didn’t realize was that the magic would start before I even met my daughter.