I can't believe that we've been away from home for a week; it's gone so fast in many ways, but it also feels like we've been here forever. Rachel is ill at home which is a worry but I need to trust Mike to care for her and not worry. The only way to cope today was to throw myself into the day, so I did.
We divided down gender lines today; the men stayed at Jubilee Centre to work on the computer systems and us women went to a women's fellowship meeting at Apostles Revival Pentecostal Ministries Church in Chifubu.
At the weekly meeting we met fourteen women, which through the morning grew to over twenty. They came from all the local churches to pray, share and sing. We were invited to meet them, pray with them, share our experiences of being called by God in our lives, talk about cultural differences with regard to depression, grief and health, and to share fellowship.
As ever we were welcomed warmly by the women; we were also welcomed by the Pastor. He prayed with us and thanked us for coming before he left us to our own devices.
First things first, we stood in a circle and each introduced ourselves and our families. Then we prayed together and sang together before Helen, Libby and I each shared a bible story that spoke to us and talked about it.
Libby chose Martha and Mary and spoke about her own calling and the importance of spending time with Jesus. Helen chose the story of the woman at the well and the fact that Jesus calls us for what we are. And I chose Jesus and the Children:
Mark 10:13-16 (NIV)
People were bringing little children to Jesus to have him touch them, but the disciples rebuked them.  When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.  I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it."  And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them.
Which I told in a dramatic style before talking about how Jesus calls us to nurture and learn from children - Jesus modelled the importance of children and this has inspired me to live, nurture, support and teach children.
In between each share we sang a song for the women; first we sang "we are marching" and then "our God is a big big God". At the end of all three shares we broke into small groups to talk about what gifts God has given us and asked us to use. The group I was with talked about the gift of loving their children, caring for their families and volunteering in their church and communities.
Mrs Temfwe had told us that the women would benefit from hearing our stories about coping with depression, grief and sickness. We ran three bases on these issues encouraging the women to share their experiences. We were told it was really worthwhile for the women but all I know is that it fed me and affirmed me and confirmed that we are all the same the world over. What a lesson I want to share:
we are all the same, so how can we abandon entire countries to poverty?
We ended the formal part of the session by asking the women "What do you do for Jesus?". This will always stay alive in my memory with answers like:
- I make and sell crafts and give all the money to fund the new church building
- I clean the church and surrounding area every day to make sure it looks it's best
- I visit and take care of people who live near me who are sick
What a lot they have to teach us.
We ended the morning with singing, praying, painting nails, dancing and giving out our gifts of things for the women and their children.
It was a wonderful and inspirational morning and one which has a lot to teach me when I run women's groups at home. Alleluia.
After lunch at Jubilee Centre we went out with Pastor Chris to Chifubu to visit two micro-finance and HIV support group projects. The first was a local shop stall which has taken a $500 loan and made a small stall into a local shop specialising in selling sugar, salt and oil amongst other grocery items. The second project were running a Chicken rearing process; raising 100 chickens at any one time and then selling them whole or in joints in the local community. It was wonderful to see such entrepreneurship and success.
We were treated to an extra special dinner at Jubilee Centre this evening with Nshima, pasta, rice, potatoes, rep, curry, vegetables and loads of wonderful company and laughter. The people at Jubilee Centre are true friends who will always be on my heart and in my prayers.
As if that wasn't enough; Nico, Becky and I stayed up late talking about the doctrine of salvation and the bible and it's history.
What a perfect day.