Tuesday, September 13, 2016

A Farewell at the Tsegulas

We have been home from our mission for almost five months now, but there were some blog posts that I always regretted not writing at the very end.  Hence, I will turn my thoughts back to Malawi and write about some of our final precious experiences.
 A few nights before we were scheduled to leave the mission field, we were invited to visit the Tsegula family at their family compound.  We were late in arriving and it was already starting to turn dark, but how thrilled we were to see so many of the family members gathered in the main house.  

I sat down next to Eliza and her children. Eliza and I had become very close as she had been through some difficult months with a serious illness.
 This is the third generation of Tsegulas who live there and believe me, there are enough for an entire Primary!

Sister Tsegula, the matriarch and such a lovely person, sits by the door next to her daughter Teresa (in blue skirt). 
We have come to know and love this family since we have made many previous visits to their home.
These photos were from the previous months.

Here is the patriarch, Brother James Tsegula, showing us how to use the khasu to hoe around the maize. 
 George trying his best to look like he is helpful!

The matriarch, Sister Annie Tsegula.  We were fast friends and even though we could not speak the same language except for a few words, we showed our love with many hugs and smiles.  She always carried my purse for me whenever we came to visit. 

Gladwell is one of the older sons.  He served a mission to South Africa and actually served with a senior couple from our home ward, Dave and Marilyn Uffens.

Gladwell with his wife Mary and their children Clanwell, Jedthane, and Puritan.

Alexander was attending school and learning to work with computers.  He was also a great branch mission leader.

The youngest son, Innocent.

Just a few weeks before our farewell visit, we stopped by and were amazed at the height of the maize.

Now, on this lovely evening, when we walked into the Tsegula home, what did we see but.....
In the middle of the room was a wondrous pile of maize.  They had just gathered their first harvest and even though this was a terrible year for drought, the Tsegulas were fortunate to have access to water.
The plump ears looked so beautiful and we could tell that the family had worked hard to prepare them.

Brother and Sister Tsegula presented each of us with artistically bound collections of ears as a thank you and a farewell gift.

Then we were led outside where Brother Tsegula showed us an area that he said would be the Beal tree park. There were two small seedlings that we were each to plant.  The one I planted was to be in our honor.

 Brother Tsegula assisting me along with some helpful friends.

Now that the Elder and Sister Beal tree had been planted, we moved to the other side for the second planting.  This was in honor the visits of our son Seth and our sons-in-law, Ryan Owens and Tomicah Tillemann.  They had visited us at different times on our mission and we had taken them to meet our dear friends, the Tsegulas.

The final touch - we poured water on each of the newly  planted seedlings.

This was such a special evening for us and there were tears at the end when we expressed our testimonies and our deep love for this strong family.  It's hard to say a "forever" good-bye so I always think in the back of my mind that we will someday return.  Now I will have not only friends to visit, but trees to check on!