Tuesday, November 11, 2014

A Wonderful Sunday at the Zingwangwa Branch - Carole's post

Today was our first day to visit the Zingwangwe  Branch to which we have been assigned.  Zingwangwe is the part of town where the meetinghouse is.  Because it is a densely packed part of town, the meetinghouse is a little easier for the members to attend.  The walk is not as long nor public transportation as expensive.  However, it is still quite a way from our apartment so Sisters Komiha and Rasband were especially happy when we said we could drive them to church Sunday morning.  Otherwise they leave at 6:30 AM for the 8:00 AM service and we could leave at 7:40 AM and have room to spare for greeting the members beforehand.

We had visited the building the previous day just to find out where it was.  Elder Reynolds, one of the other senior missionaries, kindly drove us there.  
First we went through a very lively street market, then turned off the paved road. 

There are people and children everywhere  though this is a quieter day than usual.
We parked the car and walked a short way down the road.     This shows you the neighborhood.
.  It is impossible to drive right up  to the church because it is down a VERY steep hill.   Then we had to take a few steep steps on uneven dirt to reach the top of a tall cement stairway. 

This is from the bottom of the stairs looking up.  .  There is a handrail but the stairs are very uneven and some were crumbling.  It would be very difficult to navigate for someone older or with a health concern.
The door behind me leads into the meetinghouse, which is a converted house.
In the small yard at the back of the church, you can see an upside down baptismal font.  The drying clothes and the small gardens of maize belong to Brother Kunje, who is the security guard and a member of the branch.    After baptisms, the water from the font is used to water the maize.

. This is the room for sacrament meeting, which is  so small that ,they hold two services, one at 8:00 AM and another at 11:00.  The auxiliary meetings are held during the middle two hour block.  When we came back the next morning, this room was all set up.

There were so many people on Sunday so it was a very exciting day for us.

Brother Kunje and his family

The members could not have been more warm or welcoming.  The branch has existed for three years and this is the first time (we are told) that a senior couple has been assigned there.  We met so many people but Malawians speak softly and so many of the names were foreign to our ears.   We wrote down the names as fast as we could.  We have been told it is impossible to get a ward list, so we decided to try and make our own.   Though the majority of the members speak English, there were many who only spoke Chichewa.  Relief Society was taught in English but the answers were translated back and forth.

The music was exhilarating.  Brother Banda led the music and he would sing the first line to get us on pitch and then conduct.  The building was filled with hymns for the opening and closing of EVERY meeting (with all verses!)

After the 4-hour block, there was a baptism outside.  The large empty  upside-down font from the day before was now filled will water.  

Elder Chiliza (left) was baptizing Louis.

Elder Chiliza and the young man being baptized climbed up a small ladder to climb into the font and then stepped onto a chair to get down in.  

It was a beautiful and spiritual experience for everyone who was there.

After the baptism, we filed back into the church and had a short service.  The confirmation will be next Sunday.

Sister Chikapa, wife of the branch president and a counselor in the district YW presidency.  Standing with her is Brother Khame, the YM president and gospel essentials teacher.

Sister Chikapa and Nimrod

With our notebooks bulging with names and also a calendar of meetings for the next week, we headed home, thoroughly tired but totally uplifted by the wonderful spirit of the Saints in the Zingwangwa Branch.   I look forward to seeing some of them mid-week.  I will be going with the Relief Society  sisterson two different days to share the mourning of recently deceased loved ones for two of the members.