Last Day of Unleavened Bread in Solwezi

Monday, April 17, 2017
Solwezi, Zambia
Today is the Last Day of Unleavened and we are spending it with the Solwezi, Zambia United Church of God! The church is less than three years old as I explained in my blog yesterday.
We had a hearty breakfast eggs, steak, beans and other goodies. We met the owner's sister Leslie, a colored woman, at reception up front. She is a very friendly and chatty lady. We have access to the Internet at the door of the office. Otherwise, the Internets is a simple wireless router that only a few rooms can have access to. Ours is not one of them.
From our location here in Mutanda we drive 15 miles from our beautiful location on the river rapids. The road is all right until our turnoff to the road the church hall. Potholes, puddles and even craters. The last half mile is not much faster than walking. But, we get to the hall. The congregation is waiting and the men and women sing us a welcoming song. The meeting hall, although modest, is nicely and cleanly finished. What we added actually was the entry and some remodeling work Otherwise, it was the hall owned by this congregation that came over to us from the Seventh Day Baptists to worship with us.
Cherry Pringle recorded part of this dedication that can be seen at this link:  
All the names that we mentioned yesterday in our travels, Changa Changa, the Epomba extended family, Joseph Kapatula, deacon Christoper from Mufumbwe along with Samuel, Lazarous Zuzhi, as well as others all come to life as we meet them one by one.
Before services begin, we have two events. One is the handing over of two Singer treadle sewing machines to two ladies in the congregation by the name of Yvonne and Bertha.
Then we have the dedication of the remodeled church hall and ribbon cutting ceremony. I made the presentation and read from I Kings 8 about the dedication of the Temple in Jerusalem by King Solomon. He first blessed God, then the temple and finally he blessed the assembly of people. The church really is the people.
Then we all went in and services began shortly. The Epomba family sang "God is Calling You” for special music. Rodrick Epomba translated my sermon into the Kaunde language. The back and forth between me and him was really good. Some translators are better than others. Rodrick was good and I trust that he conveyed my message well.
Derrick Pringle wanted me to speak about Christian character and I gave a modified version of my sermon of being a Living Letter with and additional addendum about leadership qualities of leaders from I Timothy 3.
Then after the services was closed, a young man got up and gave a thank you speech for the things that LifeNets has done for the area that included a water pump, the sewing machines and the scholarships.
A meal of chicken, nsima, rice, greens and other wholesome delicious fare followed. Then a meeting of deacons and other leaders followed the service as a wonderful lunch followed. There were several items on the agenda that needed to be discussed as Derrick and Cherry Pringle get here only three times a year.
I noticed literature on the chairs that was going to be distributed. Three languages converge here: English, French and Portuguese.
Here are some of the items discussed in the meeting:
1. Construction of the Manyinga church building. Dimensions are 10 by 6 meters.
2. The Mufumbwe church building completion. These style of buildings cost about 5 thousand dollars each.
3. Assistance to some of the church members
4. Evangelism by Alex Epomba. He needed some money for the bus to get to areas where he distributes literature.
5. Scholarship help for the current students. There are three in higher education, but also there are a few in secondary school that are being helped with school fees. One young man in secondary school, James Kanema, is deaf and mute, but was very intelligent. We agreed to add one more scholarship to Steven whose wife Bertha received one of the sewing machines. They have children, but will be cared for some of the time by his brother-in-law Alex and Christina who have no children of their own.
The field of study that people want mostly to get in to is teaching. While the pay is not the highest, getting a job is usually assured.
6. The church in the Congo where Changa Changa from Solwezi and Steven Kunde from Mufulira to once a month. The way to the Congo is through the nearby city of Chongolo. Then, it’s about 15 miles to Chilelabobmwe, Zambia which is right on the border. When they cross the border they’re in Kasumlabesa, DRC (Congo) and walking distance from Sam Kasongo and our church there. It currently meets in the school where Sam teaches. Cherry Pringle brought bags of clothing to send on to the Congo.
7. The speaking schedule.
8. Keeping the children from marking up the walls. The children love to touch the walls.
People were commenting how much they appreciated the drought breaking. In fact, there was too much rain and there are some problems with fungus growth.  
There was a lot to get through, but we really needed to cover this agenda as Derrick won’t be back to this area until August.    
A note about the care of orphans in the Congo.
Sam Kasongo cares for about 80 orphans scattered throughout Kasumlabesa. He feeds them one meal a day which is about all they get. The orphans have been brought down to this safer part of the Congo from the northeast where fighting and terrible atrocities continue to this day. One town up north that was mentions was Goma which is on the border of Rwanda. Rebels are fighting government forces and it’s all about access to diamonds, gold and other minerals in the area. People are continually getting killed in the crossfire and that’s where you get the orphans. From what we heard, the presence of the United Nations has been a failure in this area.
We are working on getting more miele meal to the orphans. The cost is double in the Congo ($30 per 25 kg bag). It’s $15 per bag in the Zambia. But, in order to "export” it, meaning take it across the border you need to buy a permit for $600. And, then, the permit is good for only six months.
After the meeting, we held a “Bible Study”  in which I read my proposed eNews content for the coming week about the Church fasting on April 22nd. The churches here will be fasting along with all people around the world in the United Church of God.
PHOTOS: Joseph Kapatula in blue and white striped shirt
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Lorelei Nettles

How wonderful to see so many happy faces.