In some ways we reached our destination today.  KwaNdebeqheke has been in our hearts and prayers for eight years.  Thrillingly, with a tinge of disbelief, we were there.  We began our day with a stirring mass at Mpume’s home parish.  The sight that will stay with me  is the long line of people walking in their best clothes from kilometers away and down a steep hill to their church.  It is clear the community is formed from the parish.  Although the mass was in Zulu, its intensity was always evident and the singing from everyone in the congregation was amazing, but more about that in a later post. 

On the way to Mpume’s mother’s, Mama Zondi, 78th birthday party, we stopped at a river we have heard a great number of times.  It used to be the only source of water for the community.  Everyone would wander up to the top of a steep hill to fetch water.  After three or four times a day, it must have accounted for three miles of strenous walking and carrying.   The community focused in protecting the purity of their only water source.  However, when almost everyone received their water, that vigilance declined and the quality of the water for fifteen remaining families who could not afford the $28 for running water declined dramatically until Mamma Zondi’s vision allowed, with the help of our support, brought them to the well.

We met KwaNdebeqheke in brilliant sunshine, a village built into a hill where one narrow road ran along a ridge.  Arrayed on that hill were perhaps a 200 houses ranging from impressive to scarcely serviceable.  Across the valley large hills rose impressively and as evening drew on lights in tiny homes made it as if tiny stars had been set upon the mountain.  South Africa is a land of contrasts.  Beauty and poverty; challenge and success are never separated by much.  South Africa is also increasingly urban, but for Mama Zondi’s family now settled in Durban and Johannesburg, as for so many Africans, villages like KwaNdebeqheke is where they feel their heart.

Finally, it was on to the party.  The Catholic Worker is based on community.  Dorothy Day famously wrote, “We have all known the long loneliness and the only answer is love…and that love comes in community.”  I have seen it in parishes around tragic times when a community finds something it might never have known it possesses and brings consolation to the unconsolable.  I have seen it when the unanswerable is answered at Emmaus House.  And I experienced it when love poured out for an old woman in an African village on her birthday.  Speaker after speaker spoke of the difference that Mamma Zondi made in their lives.  They generously thanked us and welcomed us into the community and indeed into their family.  We are proud Zondis.  And Mamma Zondi listened and laughed and humbly acknowledge all that was offered.  She thanked us for all that we have offered.  We thanked her for offering her life and teaching us by giving as Christ gave and living as Christ lived. 

Of course, another feast.  Of course, more friends we have never met and a reunion with three of Nloso’s cousins who visited Albany five years ago.  (All you need to know about Mpume’s level of enthusiasm is that it seems Albany is a dream travel destination for many people we meet.)  But above all, there was love, dancing with joy and asking in a breezy winter wind, “What can I not do?”  Today, it seems love can do anything.