Sunday, February 9, 2014

Reflections from Sue Jenkins

Wow!  We have had the most amazing day!

We began with breakfast served to us in the guest house.  (For those who have traveled to Iambi before, know that the guest house, like the hospital, is glowing with new management.)  The worship service (which they call “prayer”) began at 8:30 and ran a very short three hours.  I have marveled before at how we can follow the service in a foreign language, because the Lutheran liturgy and the Christian lectionary are international.  What a blessing from the church to its people!

We were asked to introduce ourselves, and we took the moment to ask the congregation to greet all of you at Zumbro.  Pastor Lisa posted this on the web, so you can view it by clicking here if you didn’t already see it at the annual meeting.  The service included many prepared anthems by three choirs, and whenever there was a lag (for example, the offering took longer than planned) someone would call out the name of a song and a choir member would immediately begin to lead it for the congregation.  

the younger choir sings (and dances!)

There were two offerings, two members told their stories, and after the service an auction of the gifts in kind.  (Dr. Nyenje bought us free-range eggs for a treat.)  

the children watch as the eggs are auctioned

After the service, Nalaila Yasayo, the head of the Cher de Laco community for recovering lepers, approached us with a greeting.  He embraced Lisa and told her, “You are from Zumbro, and because of you a woman walks.”  For only $300 Zumbro provided a prosthetic leg for a woman from his community so that she can walk.  Together we can do so much.

We were invited into the sacristy for pop and cookies following the service, and we sat with Pastor Gunda, Pastor Msengi with Christalumba, Pastor Amani and his wife, and Dr, Nyenje.  Dr. Nyenje was a great host, gently cuing us when to stand, when to sit, and when we should speak.

Pastors Lisa, Msengi, Amani, Gunda

Doctors Nyenje, Sue, Bob

We had a rest for a few hours and lunch in our guest house.  Then Dr. Nyenje sent a van to pick us up for an afternoon “entertainment.”  We would never have guessed what came next!  The van dropped us off inside the hospital gate where there were two lines of young people, the women in pink dresses, the men all in white, waving palm branches and singing!  They were singing for us – but really, for you at Zumbro.  Then we realized that these bright young people were the nursing students!

the most unbelievable welcome

Each of us were given a bouquet of local flowers and we danced in the front of the line into the chapel.  We were seated at the head table with Dr. Nyenje, who led a program with greetings and introductions from the heads of the hospital departments.  He and Ulumbi Lynaga, the principal of the nursing school, spoke of the accomplishments of the hospital and nursing school, and their needs.  We were invited to greet them.  Lisa and I told the story of the first Thanksgiving, and how the native people so generously shared their food and knowledge with the newcomers who had come to America looking for a place to worship Jesus.  Lisa presented the gift from Zumbro – a Thanksgiving banner.   Hilary Mbuko translated for the students.  There were more speeches, and then the nursing students (who had slipped out) processed into the chapel, singing and dancing.  They had written a song just for this day –
            Welcome, welcome, welcome at Iambi –
            Let us be together!  Let us be together!

an outstanding performance by the nursing students

They repeated this chorus about 17 times – dancing and singing – and the director was a petite young woman with a thousand watt smile.  (Julie Neumann – wish you were here!)  They sang two more songs for us, until Dr. Nyenje began tapping his schedule.  

Dr. Nyenje took us on a brief tour of the campus.  We’ll write more about the campus on another day.  Then we had dinner with the staff of the hospital.  There were more speeches, greetings, and pop.  

another amazing meal

We walked back to our guest house, with some of the hospital staff insisting on carrying our backpacks.  Once we were back, Lisa was able to share the video she’d made for the congregational meeting.  Our African friends were eager for more, so Lisa shared pictures of our church, the Christmas bazaar, and last May’s blizzard. 

Friends, we were humbled and honored, and wish that you could have been here to be greeted and celebrated.  The hospital has new leadership and new hope.  Their hope comes in part because you have cared enough to share their dream of bringing health care to the Mkala region of the Central Diocese.

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