Monday, March 2, 2015

Helping Hands--the Nthendas--George's Post

The next several posts I publish will be devoted to the  same subject—the plan the church has adopted to help members whose homes were partially or totally destroyed in the recent storms.  Before getting into the details of the plan, and the rationale behind its adoption (themes to be covered in the  last post in the series),  I will try to give a human face to the crisis our members are facing by introducing separately the families in the Zingwangwa Branch, whose homes were substantially destroyed or who  had one or more walls collapse, leaving their dwelling places largely uninhabitable or dangerous.  Of these families, five owned their homes, and one was a renter. 

This post will focus solely upon the Nthendas.  Brother and Sister Nthenda are new members of the church, having been baptized about six months ago.  It is a second marriage for them.  They have one child together, Towera, three years old, and each has several other children from earlier marriages.  Like many new members, they make exceptional sacrifices to come to church on Sunday.  Before their home was destroyed, they had a 45 minute walk to church (one way), but now, after moving into a partially-constructed home next to Sister Nthenda’s mother, who lives in Chemwembe, a village outside of Limbe, it takes them 2 hours to walk from home to the Zingwangwa meetinghouse.  

Brother Nthenda, who was recently ordained an elder, is extremely earnest, but  has a quick smile.  His English is much better than that of his wife’s.  By training Brother Nthenda is a welder, working out of a small shop off a backlane in Limbe, producing metal window and door frames for homes.  Making ends meet has recently been a great struggle due to the sluggish economy.  He and I have just been assigned as home teachers to the Banda family; we made our first visit last week.   During our first visit with the Nthendas in their home (before it was destroyed), Brother Nthenda produced a large bound edition of the Bible, obviously cherished by him as one of his most precious possessions.

Sister Nthenda is a primary teacher and Carole has tried really hard to prepare her for Sunday classes, spending hours reading over the lessons together, talking about the children, and devising plans to make  the lessons fun.  Progress is slow, because Sister Nthenda speaks broken English and has difficulty reading it out loud.   The last couple of weeks Sister Nthenda has not attended Church, leaving the primary terribly short-handed, and driving Carole just a bit crazy with juggling sharing time, music practice, and lessons for the younger and older primary classes.
The photo below of Brother Nthenda and Carole was taken during our first visit at the Nthendas' home in Manga, before the rains and wind did a number on the house.


This is a photo of the Nthendas in front of their home.  As best I can tell, it was a small three room home, a main living chamber with two tiny  anterooms.


Carole and Sister Nthenda are seated inside the home, going over the primary lesson.  Sometimes they did the training inside and sometimes, when the weather was good, outside.


Weeks ago Carole dedicated a complete post to the day we moved the Nthendas out of their home because it was destroyed.  If you have  not seen that post, but are interested in getting more background, you will find it under the caption "Torrential Rains," in January.   The collapse of the home is captured in the following three photos, all taken the shortly after the home was destroyed,  one showing how the entire roof was ripped off by a violent gust of wind shortly before dawn.

It is easy to imagine how the Nthenda’s spirits could have been crushed by their loss.  And while they certainly were downcast when it occurred, they did not blame God.  They pressed ahead as best they could.  They were thankful each of them escaped the home without injury and felt fortunate in getting help to move their stuff into their temporary shelter.