Sunday, October 28, 2007

Anticipation and Anxiety
A day of contrasts. Last night a “sample” of the rainy season: showers, some heavy, and an occasional burst of wind. This morning, clouds and more showers. Suddenly, weather raises her head over the plateau that is Ipalamwa secondary school. We paint, plan a gift, partake of lunch, and part our ways for the afternoon—the day now mild and bright. Eloise stays “home” to rest; Bill and Yasmin take off with Macombe for a walk, leaving the road and bushwhacking along a garden of beans, corn and potatoes. Macombe explains our presence to enquiring villagers in the fields. Back on the well-worn track, the hikers walk up and then down into the lush green valley, a valley garden along a stream. The soil rich and dark, soil replenished during the rainy season when the valley floods and villagers tend fields on the slopes.
We learn today of naming customs: grandfather, father after first name, and then family name. Evan Charles—two Christian English names; Macombe has the customary, it seems, mix of African and biblical names in his family. Tonight, we await the service—anticipation. Again, no certain time it begins.
Anxiety is present: what will Monday hold? The celebration? Then a week of separation before reuniting in Iringa for the drive to Dar es Salaam. The group will drop to 3 when Harran leaves for Iringa on Sunday and we await Mohammed’s arrival Sunday night.
End of adventure thoughts swirl in our heads. Have we done enough? Can we give back in proportion to what we have received? And when we are gone, how much do we take away? And how much of value do we leave? We all need to reflect. There will be time, but reflection now while still in Ipalamwa may bring different thoughts than when we are propelled back into our vastly different paced culture, over mechanized, computerized, electrified culture.
The student service was full of energy. The hymns and songs filled the newly painted classroom. Nevertheless, this week’s service seemed less electric. Maybe it was because of the anticipation gendered from last Saturday. Maybe it was the emptying of the room as Form 2 students left to study. Yasmin and Eloise were escorted to the service by their friends from the dorm. Bill sent ahead and was given a place with friends from Form 1, Ladiza, Rosemary and Faunista. Immediately, the girls asked Bill to sing, to put his name in the book. When the Form 2 students left, Bill found his way up front and signed up. Almost immediately, before he could finish the biscuit offered by Ladiza, his name was called and he gave the group a rendition of “Jacob’s Ladder,” a traditional American spiritual. He even got some of the high-pitched screams as he reached high on the third line: “Master, we are here to serve you.” And we are here to serve. Let this, if nothing else were our gift to the students, teachers and villagers of Ipalamwa.

Thought For The Day
“As you serve others, so shall you serve me…”