After a relaxing morning of souvenir shopping that we covered in the last blog, it’s now the afternoon and we are headed off to visit a rural village. So we load onto the bus with our trinkets and curios, and away we go! -Jolyn
So we head out of the city, and after traveling for about an hour, they brought us to a Kingdom Hall for a restroom break.
Apparently, this would be the last opportunity for toilets, running water, and the like. It was so nice they thought of us in this way; just another example of how we were being taken care of at every step!
We were greeted by the brothers, as well as curious locals.
So after a few minutes break, one of the local, brothers gave us a short talk on the history of this Kingdom Hall and of the local area.
And then a few goodbyes, and we were back on the bus! This segment of the bus ride was about an hour and a half. It was a bumpy, and an unpaved road that just seemed to go on and on. I wondered, how would the people that lived in this area get to the convention? It was a question that would be answered soon enough.
So, one thing no one tells you about being a delegate at an international convention: bus seating selection is key! This is ever clear as we finally pull into our destination! We are greeted by singers of young and old, and everyone is just jostling to get the best picture!
As we step off the bus, we have a few minutes for introductions and hugs and then we are split into groups to take a tour. Our tour guide was Albert.
Everyone was still organizing and assembling, so we had a few minutes to chat and take pictures.
I was still wondering about the logistics of getting to the convention from here. I had to ask! I was dying to know!
“So Albert, I don’t see any cars, and we are over 2 hours from Harare,” where the convention was being held. “How are people planning to get to the convention?” I ask.
“Oh there are some buses. My family is taking one actually!” He said this very happily. But there was something in the way that he said this, that seemed… a little separate, a little removed from himself.
“And you are going with them on the bus?” I asked.
“Oh no, I have a bicycle!” he proudly answered. So my wheels are turning, I’m calculating the distance and time by bus, applying that to bicycle power and with all this thinking, I’m sure there’s a smell of burning perceptible to those in my close proximity.
“How long IS that?”
“Just four hours. Each way.”
Just four hours.
Brother Albert says this like It’s sunny today, or I’m a little tired, Just four hours. He seemed fine with it! He explained that the bus fare was expensive and he was able to save for his family, but he wasn’t able to save for himself. You know, you read about these experiences in the Yearbook (a collection of global, real life experiences and news from Jehovah’s Witnesses assembled into a book) of the efforts that people will make to get to our meeting or assemblies, but you never think you will encounter it in person! He had such an appreciation for this special convention, nothing was going to keep him away from it! Think about that the next time it’s too hot, too cold, or too rainy to make a meeting!
And this was just the beginning of our special time here.
We learned how they make their homes!
This would be the size for a two person family. They have a communal approach to their domiciling and is so different from a modern American concept. You sleep here, but your living room and kitchen is outside with your neighbors!
And we got to experience how they live!
Next we got a lesson in wood chopping. No easy task! The brother explained the process, and he was the cutest!
He carefully explains, “When the wood is being collected for the cooking fire, some wood is very large and too heavy to carry. The collecting is typically done by the women. But it might be heavy! So our wives might come to us and say ‘Husband, please help me with this wood. It is too heavy.’ And because we love our wives, we help them. And we do not care how it looks to the village.” How cute!
I could tell the day was drawing to a close… We weren’t ready for it, but the kids didn’t let me stay sad for a second!
Nobody’s prouder than this mom!
One last song…
…and then we loaded onto the bus to come home. As we lumbered down the country road, something felt missing. And the ride home was quiet. Very quiet. It was an opportunity to ponder the complex emotional space we were in: feelings of gratitude and humility. Even now, I cannot accurately verbalize the feelings we were experiencing. Other than it was good. We were grateful. And we had this desire to do more for others.
But no time for tears! Tomorrow is the first day of the convention! Where do you put people when you run out of seats?