Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Zingwangwa Branch Relief Society - Carole's Post


 Sister Banda is the Relief Society President and she has been a marvelous help to me.

I have been very anxious to get to know the sisters of the branch.  When we all crowded into the Relief Society room on Sunday, I knew this was going to be a very special group of sisters.  Even though they all went around the room and took turns introducing themselves, they speak softly (I’ll say that in every blog!) and everything was so new to me that I couldn’t write fast enough and my head was swimming.

Sister Banda's daughter, Corney
                                                        and this is how she carries her when we go visiting.

I expressed a desire to visit with the different sisters in their homes during the week and she was very pleased and said that would be wonderful.  However, this week she had her hands full with trying to reorganize visiting teaching so she would not be able to go with me.  Sister Banda has been a member for three years, which was a surprise to me because she understands so well how the program works.  Even though I thought it would be nice to visit with the sisters, because it was just my second day in Blantyre I did not realize how difficult that would be. 

There are no addresses!  Directions are very confusing.  I can’t imagine going without someone who knows the way!

However, there were two very special events scheduled for the Relief Society sisters mid-week.  On Wednesday morning and again on Friday, many of us met at a designated spot and then walked to the home of a sister who had recently lost a loved one.  On Wednesday we met close to Sister Banda's house, then went to her home to wait for others to arrive.  We organized a small program for when we arrived at the home of Sister Temuka who had recently lost a grandmother.  Then we began our walk up the hill in Soche, greeting people along the way.

 Can you see Sister Rasband?  We have something in common.

Sister Komiha (in red), who is Sister Rasband's companion, loves the children

The paths are frequently difficult to navigate, rocky and uneven.  I have to "keep my eyes on the road".  In the homes we passed, many people were washing clothes or hanging them out, preparing food, or they were simply walking along the path carrying things.  I know I will be spending a great deal of time in Soche and it has a wonderful feel of community.  
            Sister Temuka was pleased to see us.  We all took our shoes off and walked into her home, where we sat on the floor in a circle with our legs in front of us.  There was a small picture on the wall of the temple and everyone just seemed so happy to be there with one another.  We started with singing “Scatter Sunshine” and a prayer.  One short talk with scriptures was given, then a testimony, and I gave the closing remarks.  We ended with “I Am a Child of God” and a prayer.  There were many hugs and lots of chatting.  Then we walked back down the paths with different sisters leaving us at times to head off to their own homes. 

Two days later we met again to visit Sister Mkandawire's home.  Her mother died last week and she had had just returned from her village for the burial.  This time the walk to the home was one hour!

 I visited with Sister Stella as we walked and was curious why she goes by two surnames, Kundulu and Themba.  I asked her which she preferred and she said her father’s name of Themba (the sisters teased her about that!)  I told her she is like my daughter and daughter-in-law who prefer to keep their father’s name and she really liked that!   George walked with us much of the day though he usually walked behind (you can tell he is the photographer)  and chatted to many.   
This time we walked down roads and across fields.
 The paths are always busy with people coming and going.
It became hotter and mamas worried about the babies in the sun.

We took several "short cuts" and eventually ended up in an area of homes similar to Soche.

The mango seller and school children coming home from morning school.

In Sister Mkandawire's home, we sang "How Great Thou Art", I gave a short talk, again we shared testimonies.  She had good news to share in spite of her sorrow.  She just found out that she passed her exams to give her the equivalent of a high school diploma, sort of like a GED I think.
Her  children stayed out on the porch while we were inside.  This is Esther, Violet, and Elliot.

Afterwards, we all took a photo in the yard.  Sister Mkandawire is in the middle with a head wrap.

Relief Society is so wonderful for ALL of us sisters.  We learn from one another, share one another's burdens, and rejoice in one another's accomplishments.
Women have the same concerns worldwide and as we headed home, we sang "As Sister in Zion".