Last Sunday we had the amazing experience of attending St John’s annual meeting by Skype. It was wonderful to see all of the smiling faces that we miss so much.
The week before, we had asked Mama Mdemu if it would be possible for some of the child care workers sing a song at the beginning of the meeting. Mama Mdemu is the director of the home. She is an amazing 70 year old woman. She retired several years ago after serving many years as head nurse at a local hospital. When the position of director was open, the Diocese recruited her to help for a while. She has been here seven years now.
Mama Mdemu is very experienced working with girls in their late teens to early twenties. She announced at devotions one morning that she was looking for girls who would be willing to help with a “special project”. She told us that when she asks for such things there are the usual girls who will help and the others who will not. She did not tell them what the special project would be. When the girls who did not volunteer found out the five who did would be singing “live” in America, they were very disappointed.
Mama asked what we would like the girls to sing and we said any song in Kiswahili would be great. They practiced several times in the entry way of the class room building, which has great acoustics. She reported to us that they were ready and that her only advice to them was to smile more.
So, last Sunday we walked up to the home at about 8:45 pm to set up for the 9 pm start (our time) of the meeting. The girls who were to sing were busy getting ready. We set the computer up in the reception room which contains many sofas and chairs and seats about 20 people. When we connected with St John’s and told the girls to come out, we were so surprised. They had dressed in their fanciest dresses. They “danced” into the room, in front of the computer singing. They looked so beautiful. Singing here is not merely getting the notes and the words right. There is also movement, gestures, and dancing that fit the message of the song.
Many of the other girls who had not volunteered came to watch them and to see the members of St John’s. Also, three of the “mamas” came to watch too. Two of them were off duty. One was dressed in a fleece jacket with a kanga over her pajamas.
After singing three songs, we started to talk with our friends at St John’s. It was such an incredible experience. We thank God for the forms of communication that are available. Computers and the internet have made God’s world so much smaller in our lifetime. And isn’t that a wonderful thing?
Unfortunately, the connection went bad after just a few minutes and our visit was cut short. We were disappointed, but our singers were much more disappointed than us. After the connection ended, they came back into the room. They had changed into their uniforms and ready to sing some more. We thank God for Rehema, Sarah, Judith, Farida, and Elizabeth who shared their talents with our friends at home.