Friday, March 30, 2007

Consider the Birds

Our tears mingled with the African sisters we came 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! Ninety women have been fed and nurtured, they have grown in spirit and in truth, and we saw a small portion of the harvest as the attendees gathered an offering of rice and staples to take to the orphans of the Irente Center the day after the conference ended.

The return ride from the compound (Irente Center) housing the blind, disabled and baby orphanage brought another potentially terrifying drive – but I would break into a chorus with the three African women who had joined us for the day:

“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 verse she sang was regarding a member of the team or something about the conference. The other women would offer the responsive chorus:

“wonderful, wonderful, wonderful…”

At one point, her singing stopped abruptly, interrupted by tears of joy, thanksgiving and sadness at our soon departure. Sabina, in the silence, took time to explain some of her refrains: “Thank God for sending Charlynn to us we pray she comes again. Thank God for sending Debi 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 borne on the burden of the third-world each morning and evening. Our hunger has been satisfied by a cook and house girl who arrive before dawn to begin preparations in virtual darkness and stay well into the night cooking by candlelight, our 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.

Months before we arrived, Sabina described the women to us “birds” waiting to be fed the spiritual food of the Living God. At times I have felt like a beast – with tender feet, sore back 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.” Matt 6:29

As we prepared to leave Vuga for the next stop on our journey back home, 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.