Preparations began weeks ago as a carefully selected committee planned a budget and held a fundraiser to meet that amount. By God’s grace, they exceeded their target, so they were able to add the extras they had cut from the initial budget and sent out more invitations than they thought they would be able to. Preparations escalated last week as committee members prepared programs, purchased gifts and gathered non-perishable materials. The preps crescendoed on Saturday and Sunday morning.
Saturday afternoon and evening students were in and out of my house hourly. I house the “bank” for the chapel. I hold the money for safekeeping since the chapel does not yet have a bank account. (It is coming soon.) The treasurer “withdrew” money for the open market shopping, then for the vendors’ shopping, and finally for the final payment for the gifts. She did not want to carry large amounts of cash or leave it unattended in the dorm, so each time she completed one transaction, she came to get money for the next. Then those who had speeches to give came with them for me to edit. The chair of the function came for me to review the agenda. The chair of hospitality came to arrange to borrow my flatware and dinner plates. She made the same arrangements with a number of other faculty families to provide enough wares for the food service. The president of the elders came to check on details of the worship service. About 10 p.m. I locked the door after the last of them.
|Cooking on a 3-stone fire|
Sunday all activities were centered at the chapel. To accommodate the guests of honor who had other responsibilities and were coming from Kigali, the time of the service was moved to 1 p.m. and the celebration was set for 3 p.m. This allowed the morning for decorating and cooking. This began in earnest at 8 am. The cooking was done behind the chapel in 3-stone fires, by the students, male and female. They were preparing for 75 people, so there as much to do. Even as the worship service began, many were still outside cooking and slowly joined the service as their responsibilities finished and they were able to prepare themselves for the celebrations.
After a Spirit-filled worship time, we took a break and readied the room for the celebration. Time is not the issue in Africa that it is in America, so the fact that the guests of honor were 45 minutes late in arriving due to long worship services and long distances to travel did not disturb anyone. People gathered and chatted until the festivities kicked off. A pleasant surprise for me was that the Edmondsons from Kiskiminetas Presbytery in US, who are here for 6 months, were able to join us. The students had done such a good job of preparations that everything went smoothly and the food was delicious. The speeches and the appreciation of the contributions of those departing were heartfelt. It was a joy to listen, especially about my predecessor at the chapel who no only introduced worship in English, but who initiated a song book and who guided the furnishing of the chapel. He is now the President of Kigali Presbytery and will bring that same vision and energy to that task.
|Departing students with gifts|
The event was a great deal of planning and work but was worth every minute of is as it was well presented and greatly appreciated. The evidence of that is that after all was over, even as it was dark out, people stayed to visit and share with one another, even those who had traveled a great distance and had a distance to go to get home. Those departing the chapel were sent off with love and appreciation.