Minnesota Farmer

South Africa Bound – Sunday Feb. 6, 2011
February 19, 2011, 11:30 am
Filed under: cars, church, food, friends, house, Kwazamohkuhle, rain, South Africa, travel, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , ,

Fifteen people from the Shetek conference of the ELCA flew to South Africa on an agricultural mission that departed on January 31, 2011.  Our group included 3 pastors, 5 between the ages of 17 and 28, 3 farmers, 2 teachers, a factory tech and a nurse.

Now Sunday had arrived and it was time to make an appearance in as many of the churches of the Ondini Circuit of the ELCSA as possible.  The plan was to break up into groups of two or three and make our way to the far flung churches by way of pastors and parishioners cars.  Our pastors would be preaching with Zulu speakers interpreting.

Loretta and Barb left on Saturday.  They were going to one of the most remote parishes and their ride came down for the bible school program.  The dean of the Shetek Conference Reverend Ted Kunze and his wife Marcia were traveling with the dean of the Ondini Circuit, Reverend J L Shongwe.  Paul Pohlman and I went to church at Impumelelo.



None of the churches we went to were large.  Impumelelo had benches for about 40 people.  Our benches actually had backs on them which is not always the case.  The pastor lives on the grounds of this church in a simple plastered cider block house with a concrete floor.  He serves a 7 point parish and is expected to visit all of his churches each month.

The pastors family at Impumelelo

I had along some hooded sweatshirts from our church which fit their boys.

I’m really impressed with the clergy of the area.  They all serve multiple parishes with as many as 12 locations to cover in a month.  None in their parish’s are well off.  The Sunday offering is usually small.  They manage to hold their families together with the help of working wives.   They may only see their wives on weekends because of the distance their wives travel to get a decent job.  Their children are well read, well educated and ambitious.


Inside Impumelelo


The interiors of the churches are simple but clean.  Exposed rafters with the roof structure showing seems to be the norm.  Electricity, if any, is exposed wires with bare bulbs.


A member of the ladies group and children


Every church has ladies, in special uniforms, who take care of the church and act in any capacity they are needed in.  These ladies , usually Gogo’s (Grandmothers), will help with baptisms, with setting up before church and cleaning up afterward, and many other tasks.  They are often found sitting in church next to younger children, many times their grandchildren, or sometimes orphans.  Men in church are there in fewer numbers than women and children and may not sit with their families.  School age children sit in the front of the church in many cases and are attentive the whole time.  Services of over two hours are common.

Music is a large part of the ELCSA service.  There rarely are musical instruments, so when a hymn is announced, a leader will start the song and everyone will follow.  The Zulu Hymn book has no notes just words.  A typical African style of harmony, perhaps in the call and response  form, would take hold quickly.  We sang many songs, some of which I recognized the tune to, always in Zulu.

The garage

The grounds of the churches I was at were rarely well maintained.  Tall weeds were everywhere that people would not walk.  With all of the moisture of the rainy season grass grew quickly.  The buildings would be neat, but would always have some signs of needed repair and paint.  The scenery was beautiful.

Impumelelo is on the edge of the Drakensburg mountains.  As church was ending we heard a thunderstorm coming in over the mountains.  Women were casting nervous glances out of the door.  When church ended, women and children went scurrying off to get the cloths off of the line.


Rain over the Drakensburgs


After the service Paul and I were treated to a meal with the pastor and his family.  Then we squeezed into his Ford Focus for a trip off to meet two others of our group and make our way back to Kwazamohkuhle.

We met Carrie and Jessica at the home of a retired pastor who insisted that we have a little snack, which turned out to be a full meal, before we left.  His house sits on family property with relatives living in all of the nearby houses.  The area was also a little bit more level that it had been at Impumelelo.  There were always nice, but worn, furniture in the houses I was in.  If they had enough money they had TV’s, DVD players and computers.  They put out the best for us.


By the time we had all made our way back to Kwazamohkuhle it was late.  The gate is locked at 8 p.m. so we had to make our way out to unlock the gate for the late arrivals.  There were many stories to tell of how are day had gone, and of the sights we had seen.  Sunday was a busy day for us, and there was much more work for us to do in the week ahead.




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