Saturday 13th July
It's Saturday and three out of four of our team have sermons to do for tomorrow and they're all at different times in different churches, so it's bed late and up early for us.
We bandy about the word 'privilege' - this is a privilege, that is a privilege - but to be here, to see our Zambian brothers and sisters and interact with them in the way we are, is an honour.
Today we stocked up on supplies for our guest house and we wanted to give Lyn a night off from cooking. She took us to the mall to get provisions. The mall was not that dissimilar to what we have back home. A remarkable difference was noted. As we left one shop the security guard checked our receipt against our shopping items. A bit different from the guy that sits behind the desk in asda staring at the monitors whilst looking at his Facebook page! But at the end of his checking, this security guard blessed us! Uh huh!
And tonight as I walked down to Keith and Lyn's, I came across a little girl no more than 8 or 9 years of age. She was playing hide and seek with her younger brother. When she saw me she said "How are you sir?" I don't remember the last time I was asked that by a stranger let alone a child. Why I mention this is not to demonstrate any preference of one culture over another, not to snub ours and praise theirs, but simply to say that every single day we are being blessed, honoured, in small, seemingly insignificant ways. With one week nearly done and one to go I wonder what is ahead of us.
Sunday 14th July
It's midnight. The electric is out as per usual around 10pm for 4 hours. So I'm typing this in the dark. And I'm probably the only one of the team awake.
We all had early starts. Bishop Trevor had to preach at two churches, one service lasting three hours. Rev Hazel preached in two church services. Noreen accompanied her and found great company with members of the congregation, some of which were MU. (Apparently they had her dancing in the aisles). And I drew the long straw. I only had one service.
It was surreal. In what would seem to my European mind and eye, to be an impoverished area (and perhaps it was by Kitwe standards) stood a church, beckoning people to worship and praise God. And they did. I didn't need to understand the language to understand the sense of joy our brothers and sisters had, and their appreciation of our God. It was a eucharistic service and thankfully other than preach I was permitted to be ministered to by all the elements of the service.
One thing I was asked to do was to bless the unconfirmed after everyone else had been served their communion. I prayed the Aaronic blessing over each individual. For me today, that was more special than serving Holy Communion. One little girl, 3 or 4 years old, went up to the communion rail along with her older sister. I said the blessing, but the most remarkable thing about this interaction was that she closed her eyes and bowed her head. Everybody else did of course, but she did, and it was the bowing of her little head that nearly filled me up with tears.