Today is Zambian Independence Day, and there are many celebrations. Reminds me in some ways of the 4th of July. It is sunny and hot. Our MEF students are enjoying a picnic and "brai" (barbeque) at a park. The Sunday School children from church are also enjoying a picnic outdoors, with lots of games and dancing and singing. The nursery school on the MEF campus had an Independence Day parade on Friday, marching, chanting, cheering, all of them wearing shirts or sundresses made from chitenge fabric with the Zambian flag as the design. Most of the flag is dark green, symbolic of the vegetation and natural wealth of the country. There are three stripes in the right corner, red for the blood shed to secure independence, black for the people, and orange for the copper and mineral resources. An orange eagle symbolizing freedom sits on top of the three vertical stripes. The kids were very enthusiastic in their celebration and it reminded me of the 4th of July parade Winterhaven hosts in Tucson, or the one we experienced at Ghost Ranch the last time we had a family vacation there.
One observance here was entirely different from our 4th of July commemorations in the USA. Many churches, Mindolo included, had all-night services last night to pray for the country and its leaders and to praise God for freedom and independence.
Another recent event here was a conference hosted by the Anglican Church and seminary on campus. The featured speaker was the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, symbolic head of the worldwide Anglican communion. He was in Zambia after visiting Malawi to commemorate 100 years of the Anglican church there. He spoke of the challenges and opportunities faced by the Anglican (Episcopal) church today. The unity of the denomination has been stressed by differences of opinion and understanding on two issues, the role of women in the church and the church's teachings and rules regarding homosexuality. He acknowledged that the church has no mechanism for global problem-solving, but they are concentrating on building relationships that can encourage unity. He has his work cut out for him in these difficult times.
Finally, we are getting ready to celebrate the graduation of one of the groups of Pan African students, the ones in the Youth Leadership Development Program, together with a group of social work, community development, and media diploma students. Such events are always a mixture of joy and sadness as we bid farewell to those who are going far away and celebrate their accomplishments. The Pan African students hosted an African Cultural Night a couple of weeks ago featuring food and music and dancing from their many countries. My friend Botho Divine Engagement is one who is graduating and returning to Botswana. I will really miss her strong spirit.
And in only 5 1/2 weeks, I, too, will be leaving MEF and returning home after a rich and rewarding Zambian experience. So I understand the mixed feelings of the students--relief to have finished their studies, sadness to be leaving friends and mentors, a sense of being unsettled during a time of transition.
Please keep us all in your thoughts and prayers.