SwaziCompanions of Iowa

Thursday, March 10, 2016

10 March 2016--will try to add some pictures when I have a better connection.

(Saturday afternoon.  No good wifi in Mbabane currently.  We are at an internet cafe near Malkerns and hope to get this posted before my wifi time expires.)

Sunday we were at the UNISWA (University of Swaziland) Anglican Chapel.  Had no idea what to expect for congregation but there were probably about 80 people including 20 children, several faculty and students and sundry families.  Met a Dr. Mathews who heads the Sociology and Social Work faculty.  He is originally from SW India (Kerala State) where the tradition is that St. Thomas arrived in 52 CE.  He had been to Iowa in 1988 to visit nephews—one at ISU and one at UI.

That afternoon we had the opportunity to see Thulie N. who used to work with the former HIV/AIDS office.  And when we met her at St. George and St. James in Manzini, we also saw Lucy Mabuza who will be coming to Iowa next month.

Monday we took most of the day off.  (That is what the clergy are supposed to do here on Monday we are told.  I don’t have an excuse.)

Then came Tuesday!  Archdeacon Bheki had to go south to visit the family of a teacher that died.  We took “our” little Ford Figo, picked up Mandla at the Diocesan Office and headed northwest.  It took a couple tries to get started up the road to St. Paul’s but we made it.  531 learners and no water at St. Paul’s.  I didn’t get a picture of the children carrying water to the school, but they spend too much of the school day doing that.
Providing water to St. Paul's Anglican Primary School

We also struggled to manage the road from the highway to St. Aiden’s Primary and Mbeka Secondary schools—which share a bore hole so are in much better shape for water.  When we left there we completed the loop crossing Maguga Dam and heading back to Mbabane.  The picture shows the difference between current water level and more normal water level.  The drought is serious!
Maguga Dam - Beware of Hippos

As we dropped Mandla off at the office we heard the first clap of thunder.  Got to the apartment about 10 minutes later as the electrical activity was increasing.  A few minutes later we watched out our kitchen window as the lightning traveled down the tree 12 feet from the apartment.  I think it hit the evergreen but then transferred to the adjacent palm into the ground.  Several small limbs from both trees on the ground and a larger limb – one of about three spires of the evergreen – is caught in the branches of the palm.  There was very heavy rain and some bb-sized hail but that doesn’t help refill either Maguga or Hwane reservoirs.  I do think that the rain (not necessarily the storm) was fairly general but have no idea how much there was anywhere in the country.  The only coverage in the Observer Wednesday morning was two photos of schoolchildren walking home in the rain—the “responsible” children walking barefoot and “saving” their shoes; the “irresponsible” children who kept their shoes on.  (My interpretation was that the first group were 6-8 year olds; the latter closer to high school age.)
Evergreen limb atop Palm

Base of the Palm Tree
We had no water Tuesday afternoon (it returned by Thursday noon) and no electricity for about six hours after the lightning strike.  Gloria did bring over a couple of candles in the late afternoon and we do have a couple flashlights as well as USB-powered LED string.  The battery that powers the front gate also got knocked out.  They were able to get it open far enough to get a couple cars through Tuesday evening – and left it half-open.

Wednesday morning Bheki called to cancel our school trips for the day – the roads would be impassable even for his 4-wheel drive vehicle.  We spent some time at a SwaziPost hotspot.  Mary Jane was able to download some resources for Sunday’s homily preparation.  I was able to get email messages, but somehow was unable to send anything.  The power was off again this afternoon but I think that was just for repairs here at the Guesthouse.  It was back on in time to fix a batch of soup for supper.  Internet hasn’t been restored here; Tim said he would call in the morning to get someone to check that out.  We have had light rain most of the day today and it has been much cooler.  That didn’t keep people off the golf course!  We also found the dress and linens shop downtown run by Thondo’s mother (Thondo drove for several visits—2004, 2006, 2008 at least).  Thondo is now working as an electrical engineer in Matsapha (near Manzini) and will be married in May.  Hopefully we will get a chance to see him before we head back.

Several meetings are scheduled in town on Thursday; I hope to be able to post this sometime.  Pictures might not get added until our ISP is restored.  Friday I’m planning to get to a couple more schools.  Not sure yet if MJ will be doing that or continuing to work with Thandi at the Diocesan Office.  Thandi left Sunday and should have returned Wednesday afternoon from a Hope Africa workshop for Social Development Directors in the Province of Southern Africa.

The January Dionet was published this week.  I’ll try to remember to remind Mandla to get that sent to Cheryl and to the Diocese of Iowa office so that a link can be put on the One World One Church page.

The Rev. Orma Mavimibela has been in the hospital in Manzini for the past several days.  She has been experiencing another bout of back/hip problems which have made walking very painful and difficult.  She hopes to be released from the hospital tomorrow, but do keep her in your prayers.  (Saturday pm:  Talked to Orma Friday evening; she did go home Friday feeling much better.)

We are safe and well-cared for.  However, we also realize that arriving back at the apartment ten minutes later on Tuesday we might have been walking under those trees to the apartment at the wrong time.  At least when lightning struck a tree at home several years ago, it occurred in the middle of the night when we were sound asleep – didn’t realize we had an ash that was split all the way down until the neighbor called a few days later!

Thursday afternoon.  Still no wireless at the apartment--and very slow and questionable at SwaziPost.  Hope this gets through.  I can see what I have for email messages but have not been able to open any of them.


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