We went to one of James's students church yesterday. James was invited to preach there. We all went along with him, and even though it is always challenging for us all to go, and it makes for a long hard day with the little ones, it is always a blessing.
We were brought into the church to the very front row with the "good chairs" reserved for our whole family.
Bringing 6 kids into the front row of any church is a bit overwhelming but we are getting used to it now and with the exception of Grace having to go out frequently the other kids did great.
I stood in the back with Grace for awhile and realized this here is the training ground for something I have always wondered. How can adults in Zambia sit so long for church services and not even move or shift around in their seat every 3 minutes like I do?
About 50 children were seated on hard uneven benches from about 8:30 until 12:30. As I watched them squirming a bit and getting restless at 11:00 , as I too was restless and had only come at 10:00, it dawned on me they learn when they are this young. It is expected of them to sit here and they learn it. So all the kids were in the back and all the adults in the front of the church.
This church was a bit interesting in that during the preaching they had 3 men going back and forth bringing drinks of mealy which is like a liquidy porridge for everyone to drink during the service. Probably for many, especially the kids that were there this was their breakfast. They had about 8 to 10 cups and would just use them over and over for each person going up and down the rows until everyone had had a drink.
The singing was beautiful and I have a video that I hope to upload at some point. They had each group represented, the men, women, youth and children and they each came singing down the aisle up to the front for their turn to sing 2 songs together.
After James preached and we greeted everyone in the church then they brought us to the pastors office to have lunch and a drink. They had brought 8 bottles of water out on a platter to where we were seated at the beginning of the service for our family. That was so kind and a "treat".
They treated us so well and it is humbling how us visiting there, simply because we are muzungus, we are the visitors and because James is a preacher and the prinicpal/ teacher at the college. This gets much respect and differential treatment.
As we were preparing to go Pastor Phiri told James that he can not describe in the english language in words what this has meant to him, his visiting and preaching at his church. What his going to the college has meant.
He said, What you have done means so much to me and my ministry…It is hard when you are alone and teaching things. He mentioned how when you are alone preaching you feel isolated, but going to the college and learning and then having James preach the same things Pastor Phiri has been preaching, just was a huge encouragement to him.
The message he preached had personally ministered to Pastor Phiri and he was very thankful
At one point he said something about "you have given me more than if you would have given me a million US dollars. "
The college and the classes for these men are making a difference in their ministries and their lives and that was a great encouragement to see!
They prepared lunch for our family and the two elders.
Pastor Phiri and James
I served the food up. It was spaghetti noodles with a sauce of green beans and tomatoes to put over it. Then there was chicken. I was not sure what was in the container until I opened it to serve and laying right on top were 2 chicken feet, with toes and all! I was a bit surprised and had to compose myself because looking at toes really did me in. I found some other parts of the chicken under neath and served those to my family and then served the feet and another piece of meat to the 2 pastors. I figured they were used to eating them.
As we were getting ready to leave Pastor Phiri pulled out a bag of green maize to give as a gift along with a envelope of a offering that was taken ( consisting of about $28) and then he pulled out a chicken. This is a great sign of appreciation and we told them thank you very much. The feet were bound and since James had received the bag of maize I was the one that had my hands free mometarily. This is the first time we have received a chicken as a gift, and I think he was motioning for me to take it. I am not positive but James quickly asked if he could carry it to the car for us and then Emma took it to the trunk.
But first we stopped to take a picture.