Last Monday I phoned Wayne at Southern Steel in Livingstone to order the Y-12 Reinforcement Bars to reinforce the baked-brick pillars that will hold up the new Magumwi Church roof. David the Convenor had tried to text the dimensions by cell-phone but was unable to. He set out on the Sunday after the service to deliver the list and get the first installment to pay for the rafters. He had managed to find 80 out of the 150 needed. They cost K15 about GBP2 each.
We contacted Unworried, a Hospital Driver and Church stalwart, along with Chis, the American volunteer, who is overseeing the construction of the new Mission Church at Mwandi. They agreed to help us transport the steel almost 2000kg of it on the old Hospital 130-Landrover to Magumwi on Sunday morning.
They arrived bright and early just before 0700h and we got the pieces loaded on the back of the pick-up style vehicle. We had to bend in half the 6m rods so they would almost fit. They still protruded out the back so I tied one of the nasty, but now taxed, Shoprite plastic shopping bags as a warning duster to the end of the rods.
We packed another 6 boxes of clothes from CART into our car and set out with Mubita and Ellie on the 50km to Magumwi. The first 15km is on tar, then we are on sand for the next 2 hours it takes to get there. We travel past mopani, thorn, ivory palm and baobab trees. In the hot dry season, the sand now is very loose in places now and it is easy to get bogged down in the drifts but by careful selection of the available alternative tracks we manage to bump, jostle and strain ourselves through without coming to a standstill.
We arrived at Magumwi, hot and dusty, at 0930h to the strains of the opening hymn. We were warmly welcomed and ushered into the vestry and from there to forms on the chancel.
After this, the Church Secretary usually welcomes visitors and reads the Intimations. Then we return to the Reading of The Word after which the Preacher is sung, danced and clapped into the pulpit. When the sermon is finished the offering is taken and dedicated. The Prayer of Intercession follows finishing with the Lord’s Prayer. The congregation then usually sing The Grace before the Benediction. The Bible Preacher and duty Elders then go to the door and shake hands with everyone in the congregation. The congregants, as they leave, shake hands with everyone in the line working their way to the end and then taking their place, to shake hands with the person exiting behind them. In this way everyone shakes hands with everyone who was at the service. A simple but effective emphasis on fellowship.
David, the Convenor, preached on Prayer and Faith. At the end of the service we celebrated Communion. There are Lay Members trained to give Communion, otherwise rural congregations without a Minister could go for years without celebrating this Sacrament. David is one. Although shortened, it follows much the same pattern as other Reformed Orders beginning with Grace and Peace, the Scripture Sentence and Prayer. After this comes the Narrative of the Institution, the Invitation and Agnus Dei and the part consisting of the Taking of the Bread and Wine. After the Breaking of the Bread, the Elders stand in a horseshoe round the Communion Table and the Minister distributes the bread and wine also giving communicants suitable verses from Scripture. The congregation comes up two pews at time forms a horseshoe at the communion table to receive communion in the same way. After all have been served everyone offers The Peace to their neighbours. While Communion is being served the choir and congregation sing a medley of traditional Communion Hymns. After the blessing the elements are removed.
It was a blessed time, around 60 of us gathered in rural Zambia. The plate was simple. The Common Cup was an ordinary glass tumbler. A home-made wooden rack with drilled holes held the disposable plastic individual cups. Except ours are carefully washed out and used again and again.
The Communion Table was a small wooden coffee table, with a missing leg, decked with a white table cloth and the elements were covered by a white linen napkin, lovingly embroidered in red thread with a verse. The Host was broken Tennis biscuits on an enameled plate. The wine was diluted Jolly Juice, an artificial Ribena, beloved by generations of children in Zambia.
After unloading the steel and drinking a bottle of Cola in the Vestry, we set off back for Mwandi. This time we carried two patients as well, who had been referred to the hospital at Mwandi by Community Health Workers, who are members at Magumwi.