SwaziCompanions of Iowa

Friday, March 04, 2016

4 March 2016

Greetings in the Name of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ!

That is the greeting at every worship service and at almost any meeting of a church-related group.  So it is our greeting to you as we celebrate the beginning of our second month in Swaziland.

Some of you may have noticed it has been over a week since we last posted anything to this blog.  It has been a busy week.  We worked on trying to finalize a grant application while the Bishop was in Liberia for meetings.  Final version should be submitted before your day is over.

Last Saturday morning we went to St. Andrew’s, Malkerns, for a training session for the Parish Church Council of the Usuthu Mission Parish.  Leader for this was Canon Charles Kunene;  Canon Peter Zungu, Rector of the Parish, is in the background.

Charles leading PCC training

We also visited more schools.  Archdeacon Bheki Magongo and I visited three primary schools between here and the border crossing (on the route to Johannesburg) on Tuesday.  On Wednesday Mary Jane joined us as we visited three more a little further north.  Next week I think there will be three near Pigg’s Peak on Tuesday, three in and near Manzini on Wednesday, and two in the far southwest on Friday.  The Archdeacon is determined to get us to all of the Anglican schools to visit with teachers and principals.  One thing we have learned is that he has a passion for education, a thorough knowledge of the Swazi laws pertaining to schools, and a willingness to stand up for his principals and teachers when necessary.  Chairing the Diocesan Education Board is a task that he has taken seriously.  And ALL of the schools have shown improvement in the past year in terms of student examination results.

The tenth school on our marathon tour (the third on Wednesday) was Enkhapa Anglican Primary School.  This was the first school where the teachers had prepared a written list of concerns to present to us when we met.  Since all six of the principals this week knew we were coming and had a general idea of what we would be doing, it was clear that this was the result of a very organized Principal, Mrs. Mabuza.  That meeting began with some wonderful Swazi singing of O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing to a tune which we did not know but with plenty of harmony.  The school has challenges, but clearly the faculty is working together to achieve excellent results.  It is very definitely a rural school with few monetary resources, but has the third best record among Anglican schools for student success.

Principal Mabuza showing us the refurbishing of teacher housing at Enkhapa
Meeting room @ Enkhapa Anglican Primary School

An old, but well-maintained classroom building at Enkhapa
Spent some time on Monday, Thursday and Friday with Thandi Zulu as she continues to try to organize the Diocesan Social Development program and attends various diocesan meetings.  She flies to Cape Town on Sunday for a Hope Africa training workshop for Social Development coordinators from around the Province.  She has some plans to take with her for discussion in that forum.

Our main activity Thursday morning was to get the paperwork done to remain “legal” for the next month.  There were supposedly two ways to do that.  We chose to visit the Office of Home Affairs to get an extension stamped into our passports.  What a warren of narrow hallways and tiny offices!  Had to go back outside to a booth by the street to get some photo copies made before the process was completed.  The other alternative would have been to drive into South Africa and turn around and reenter Swaziland (two sets of passport stamps).  We were glad that we did not choose that option when we saw Dean Advent.  He had gone to Johannesburg on Tuesday to get some new hymnals and priests’ hosts.  It took him four hours at the border to get back into Swaziland!  No pictures!  I remember the 2004 trip when some of us nearly had our cameras confiscated when we were ignoring the rule of “no cameras” at the airport.

Today we had lunch with Nola Nixon, a retired teacher from Northern Ireland who is visiting schools to emphasize the importance of reading books to the learners.  She has been here several times since 2010.  We had met her briefly at the consecration in 2012.

Tomorrow the Anglican Women’s Fellowship is sponsoring tomorrow’s Worldwide Day of Prayer at the cathedral.  Mary Jane plans to get to that in the morning.  While she is there I will get her homily printed (the internet café where we can get things printed closes at 2pm on Saturdays).  On Sunday we will be at the University Chapel worshipping with Dalcy Dlamini’s student congregation there.

Went for a short walk after supper tonight (it was still dusk when we started, but dark when we returned about 20 minutes later).  Realized as we came into the apartment that we had no electricity.  That came on about an hour later but it took longer for the router to wake up.  Last weekend we were without water for two days and we had understood the two days on, two days off pattern would continue for another six months but we have had water since last Sunday afternoon.  The Hawane reservoir does not have more water in it so we wonder what is happening.  I hope that the reason does not have to do with the fact that the US ambassador has been here this week – and her residence is two blocks away.  I mistakenly said earlier that the new embassy was near here.  The new embassy won’t be finished for another two or three months but is in Ezulwini.  The news this week is that when the King gets his tour of the new embassy there are places that he will not be allowed to visit.  A year ago some of that underground work was being done – at night by American workers – leading to all sorts of rumors about what was going into it.  That crew has supposedly moved to Mozambique to work on a new embassy there.

And we also reserved a couple rooms at Thokoza for Palm Sunday weekend.  Jacob Nastruz, working with the Young Adult Service Corps at a school in Springs, South Africa, will bring some friends to visit that weekend while their school is on break.  We are looking forward to hearing about his work and he will want to catch up with some of the friends he made here in December 2014.


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