Minnesota Farmer


Women of Ondini gather
August 20, 2014, 8:36 am
Filed under: church, Kwazamohkuhle, South Africa, travel | Tags: , , , , ,

While we were in the Ondini circuit of the ELCSA there were two women’s gatherings.  The first was a meeting of the Ondini circuit women to which the ladies of our group were invited.  It was held at the nearby KwaZamokuhle school for handicapped children.100_2961

The second meeting was held the next week in Ezakheni near Ladysmith and was a “Mini” conference of the whole South Eastern Diocese.  We all were invited to that meeting.

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The roomful of black and white clad women was impressive, but even more impressive is the way these women celebrate.  There was rarely a quiet minute.  Someone would start off with a hymn and soon the whole place was singing, and sometimes dancing.  There was indeed a roomful of joy.

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They were not always in uniform.  At the evening meeting there was a choir and a group of dancers in bright garb to get the crowd moving.  There was also gift giving galore.  Every woman there had at least one gift to take home.

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The evening meeting was also a time to get out your party best and sing and dance.  There was lots of color in motion at that session.  We of course were invited into the dance.  Since we were wearing our yellow partnership tee shirts that evening we were easy to pick out.  Although we did not know the words to the songs, we did our best to follow the dance steps.  We were also grabbed up for picture taking.  We, after all, were celerities, folks who had come from another continent to share Jesus love with them.

The party went on for hours, with the evening meal finally served at 9:30 p.m..  It proved to be a short night, as we all were ushered off to host homes.  We had to be back for the church service at 8:00 a.m. and some of us had miles to travel.

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Church the next morning was very “high” church with alter boys, incense and chanting in both Zulu and English.

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The deans and the bishop played their part and were also dressed in their best.  They went through all of the ritualized  service.  During the 45 minute sermon they had translators scattered in our midst to help us understand the message, which was about Jesus coming to the disciples walking on the water.  The message went very well with our partnership theme of “Walking together with Christ.  It was so fascinating that we really did not know the service went for three and a half hours until it was all over.

This was an interesting experience and one that few from across the pond get to take part in.  The experience was just lucky timing on our part.  So glad we could be there to take part.



American Farm Bureau in Nashville

cropped-2013_blog_headerWe made the trip to Nashville for this years Annual Meeting.  Since my sister lives just south of the city it was a dual event.  Our weather started out really nice, and then went cold and rainy.  Wish we could have brought some of that rain home.

Essential things for the AFBF Meetng

Essential things for the AFBF Meeting

Site of the meeting was the Opryland Hotel.  It’s a huge place with 2881 rooms and 15 restaurants on 6 floors.  Because of continued expansion and no understandable structural layout the hotel is bit confusing.  Each hotel area has a central garden area that is really stunning, with each different in many ways.  The attached convention area was also a bit confusing so keeping a map within reach was really helpful if you were going someplace new.  They said we had almost every room in the place booked for Farm Bureau members.

Sunday morning started out for us with a Minnesota breakfast at 7:30 gathering.  It was a place to get to see most of the folks who made the trip from Minnesota.  It was also a chance for President Paap and his staff to give us our tasks for the event.  Since I’m not known to be shy, I was assigned 4 radio stations to call back in Minnesota at specific times.

After breakfast we gathered for the opening session.  Along with many awards and introductions of important people we all needed to know, we had an address from AFBF President Bob Stallman.  Bob talked about the challenges and triumphs of the past year.  Included in those challenges was the lack of a Farm Bill in the U.S. congress.  This lack of a farm bill leaves a lot of uncertainty for all involved in agriculture.  He also addressed some disturbing government regulations that we were able to stop.  These included a regulation that would have prevented farm folks from employing their children on the farm, and threatened regulations on a small chicken producer that would have forced them to get a pollution discharge permit when nothing was being discharged.

We also got to spend some time at the trade show where they had displays from each state showing what they were doing to promote agriculture, as well as displays from several agricultural companies.  We had our choice of seminars put on by companies and the Farm Bureau.  I got to meet some old friends and make some new ones along the way.  The evening was free to spend as we wished.

Fellow bloggers Ryan Goodman and Janice Person

Fellow bloggers Ryan Goodman and Janice Person

Monday included more seminars and demonstrations in both the morning and the afternoon.  At noon I joined other county presidents for a luncheon and a speaker.  Our closing session started at 3 in the afternoon and included more awards and contest winners.  We also heard from U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack who spoke of the optimism he has for the future of agriculture.  The real highlight of the day was Keynote Speaker Captain Mark Kelly.  He had a great story to tell.UnknownThat was the end of the sessions for the general public.  Tuesday brought the delegate session and regional caucuses, wednesday was the AFBF Board of Directors meeting, none of which I attended.

With the rainy and cold weather, the rest of our time was mainly spent indoors checking out area attractions including one night spent in a country music bar, we just had to check out Vince Gill andTTJ_LOGO_225group_MainFeature  It was a fun and restful trip, but it is good to be back home.

Michael