Yesterday was a day to “meet Mpume’s mother and about six if the children that our community has helped in KwaNdebeqheke.”  However, when no one let us into the building in the University, I became suspicious.  There seemed to be a lot more than six kids around.  Finally, a group of twenty children from the village came out to bring us in with a soaring song in Zulu.  Before we turned the corner, we heard the beating of drums and there were ten more children in authentic Zulu clothing to greet us.  We were ushered to our seats as the children of the village continued their song and the African dance team who appeared to span the ages of four to twelve gave a startling performance of spirit and astounding athleticism and charisma. (We can show some film when we come home.)  Inside the room we filled with eighty people, many from Mpume’s Zulu department, who greeted us.

Mpume explained that this is not what we would have ever asked for, but this is what they needed to express.  We too often suppress the thanks of others in the name of humility, but the result is that something central to any relationship is missed.  Mpume is never shy about expressing her love for us and for the people in her life so yesterday was like seeing old friends we had never met.  We were especially honored to meet her mother Celestine, a miracle worker and an icon in her village. 

The most moving part of the program was hearing from the children we have helped as they expressed their gratitude. Lindo said for years he has been waiting for this moment, asking “who are these people who love us so much and yet they do not know us?”  Wenzi wrote a poem dedicated to Freddie, Helen and Carol thanking them.  “For which kids could selflessly wish to share their parents , And not only wish, but to go as far as really allowing then, to spread their wings, and provide us with warmth and love.” Sanelisiwe wrote, “If you think God is dead, look around you will ask me and I will tell you that he lives on in this wonderful family.”  Over and over again, the children expressed what a dream it was to meet us and how different their loves are because of the Emmaus House community.  “Without you, in my life, I wouldn’t be able to turn my dreams into reality,”

Of course we know, that what we heard was meant for all of you.  We were simply blessed to receive the thankfulness on behalf of every who gave a backpack, or gave some money.  It goes out to everyone who has helped this effort over the past eight years, including supporters of Emmaus House and the kids in my campus ministry that scraped together the little they had or begged their parents for help for someone else.  Above all, this thanks goes out to all our family and friends who have lifted us up and brought us to South Africa on the wings of their prayers.  We heard those words and we will do our best to share the gratitude and the  depth of the impact we have had on the lives of the children of KwaNdebeqheke.

Diana felt every sense being filled. We were all overwhelmed by the experience.   Fred spoke to all about the gratitude we had for everyone making us a part of their lives.  Diana said she felt like a co-mother with all the mothers of KwaNdebeqheke.  I noted the grace we all felt and how good God was.  By every reasonable measure, we should never had met.  But now we were brothers and sisters.  God indeed, was at the center of everything yesterday. God was in the songs of praise that were sung,  the first reason for our siyabonga (thanks) and why we were now together. 

We then had an exquisite South African meal with some of the food brought from the village.  Best of all, we spoke with, laughed with and played tag with these people who have been part of our lives for so long.  Eucharist comes from the greek word to give thanks.  Yesterday, without any consecrated bread or wine, we celebrated Eucharist.  Indeed, it was in the words of early Christian vocabulary an agape, a feast of love.

 Today it is off to Zululand and an overnight stay leading to a tour of a game preserve!