Monday, February 22, 2010

February 2010 - Patti Thornton

Arnau picked us up for church this morning and as soon as we pulled in to park, the singing could be heard – so alive, so harmonic, so very moving. Kristen and Wendi were enthusiastically embraced with the genuine joy that indicates that friendships are being formed because of the shared passion for serving through the association of Shiselweni Home-based Care and Project Glory. Those of us who had not been here before were greeted with only slightly less enthusiasm so we felt very at home in a church far from our own. We enjoyed the music, Wendi’s sermon reminding all of us to be stewards of our blessings and to continually grow them through perpetual education and sharing.  Surprisingly, young people far outnumbered older and there were no adult men attending today’s service. Most of the congregation walk up to several miles from their homes to attend, so church starts sometime after 11:00 a.m. when most have come in the doors. I like this schedule and the devotion of the people so devoted as to walk from early morning to attend.

After lunch, the caretaker who lives on the property where we are staying guided us on a walk through tall itchy grass, making a wide berth around the bee hives he has set up for honey production. We saw deep red dragon flies and swallow tail butterflies as well as 6 foot coleus plants, camellias, hibiscus, lilies and a pond. All tired and sweaty we came back for showers and a brief nap.  While we were assembling WAPIs, our guide returned with a plate of roasted corn, a nice appetizer. He stayed to visit with us and candidly answered questions about being Swazi, a married man and father of a 3 year old daughter. He was engaging, educated in a private high school, and a factual source of information about the culture and how he believes AIDS can best be curtailed. His reply was that it is up to every individual to decide how to cope with sex, birth control, and AIDS but strongly pointed out that education was the key. He said there are people who firmly believe “condoms cause AIDS” and further, most don’t want to be tested, male or female, even though the AIDS testing is free. He pointed out the further complications of sex outside marriages, non-monogamous sexual partnering by both men and women makes solutions difficult to find..

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