Minnesota Farmer


Gifts and goodbyes
August 30, 2017, 7:22 pm
Filed under: church, Kwazamohkuhle, Ondini circuit, rain, Shetek Conference, South Africa

On Wednesday, August 2, 2017, ten members of churches in the Shetek Conference of the ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America) left for the Ondini Circuit in the Kwa-Zulu Natal of South Africa.  The time for our return home came all too quickly.  14 busy days were spent with the fellow Lutherans of the Ondini Circuit.  When you are in the midst of it all, it seems as if the day will never come, and then we are saying goodbye.

We held our partnership meeting where we discussed what has been done, and what needs to be done, but got into very little of how to do the things that need to be done.

We took our picture with our partners.  That picture is a remembrance and a reminder that these friends of ours are still there working for the betterment of their area every day.

We exchanged gifts.  Ours included an original oil painting by a talented former member of my home congregation.  There were also a pile of the grey “Walking Together With Christ” partnership tees, over 700 partnership pens and a multitude of other items that are needed day-to-day in a depressed area.

Our partners gave us a large platter like those used in so many ways in Africa.

Dale got a Ondini Circuit  jacket like so many we had seen on our travels.

We all got polo shirts.  The shirts have the Luther Rose on the left and the Diocese emblem on the right side.

The backs of the shirts tell of the themes for each of the past church years in what they have been celebrating as the Luther Decade, all leading up to the 500th Anniversary of Martin Luther’s birth. We all had been looking at the many ways their churches celebrate membership in the wider church and were proud to be able to wear these shirts.

But now the day of departure was upon us.  We woke to a light rain, that changed to just moisture in the air.  The comment was made that even the sky was weeping in goodbye.

We all went to chapel that morning.  We sang for the workers at the Centre and they sang for us.  As usual they sang us out the door.  We emerged to a rainbow in the western sky, and that brought lots of tears.  We were saying good-bye to Africa.

Will I return again?  Who knows, that is for the future to decide.  I do know that I left a bit of my heart with the wonderful people I was lucky enough to meet in the Ondini Circuit, and that will never leave.

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