When we arrived at the Solomon Mhlanga Stadium, we went in and got our seats. We all looked so great with our black and pastel coloured clothing. A man came and informed us that when we go forward to sing, we will be leading the stadium with the National Anthem.
Well, waves of frantic shock flowed through our veins. We have a couple of international members in our choir, and apart from that, not everyone knows the new, updated version of the National Anthem as it is sung these days.
The Anthem is in four parts, in four languages, whereas the old version consisted only of two parts and two languages.
Those of us who knew the words off by heart scribbled it out on pieces of random paper or torn out from our journals, and we wrote so fast that our fingers hurt after the fourth line. We knew not when we’d be called.
We couldn’t write out enough copies, so the ones we had we passed around and words were crammed into hungry and desperate memories.
I prayed. In my heart I cried out to God for help. We knew our choir songs very well, but this would be the first song we sing. It would lay down an impression of what kind of choir we are, and if it was a flop, well, who would be much interested in the rest of our singing?
“Lord, help!” I cried. “Take full control”.
While we waited, a group of four men ‘took the pitch’ and entertained the crowd to some Zulu/African dancing. I suppose it wasn’t exactly Zulu, because this was Ndebele area.
In the mean time, the mayor arrived in full political swing. I’m not sure if it’s a way to show off their cars, or to boast off their status or to make an event of the event, but in Africa, the classic becomes traditional. Needless to say, there are things we’ll never be able to change, and politics will be politics.
Off we went to sing. We had no idea we were first on the programme but it was quite something getting down the stadium, through the gate and onto the pitch.
How my heart pumped. My heart raced with a million questions! What are these people thinking? Can they see Jesus in me? etc etc…
We got into our choir spots, and then before anyone could say anything, a young woman from our congregation, who was not part of our choir (but part of the outreach) went and stood before the microphone and testified of our great and awesome God. A couple of years ago, she was diagnosed with HIV/AIDS, and when her life was hanging on a thread, the Lord grabbed a hold of her and brought her to Kwasizabantu Mission. Just about on her deathbed, she gave her life to the Lord, and began to confess her sins and make her life right. God miraculously brought her health back and today, you wouldn’t say that she’s was once HIV positive.
I marveled at her courage, she couldn’t care what others thought of her, but she simply couldn’t keep quiet of that which God has done for her. And what better opportunity than this, in a stadium?!
It was then announced that we will be leading the attendees in the National Anthem. *gulp* Hats off, stand…
I prayed again.
And we started it. We all knew the first part.. and the second part.
Then came the third and fourth parts which were in Afrikaans and English. And I could just sense God’s presence with us, I think He was singing with us. Those of us who knew the words sang, and those who didn’t, harmonised with echoes and humming. Where I stood amongst the sopranos, it sounded really good.
And I thanked the Lord.
And then we sang. Really sang. Our songs.
I didn’t want to fall into the trap of feeling part of a celebrity choir, but all the cameras and photographers around us did somehow give that distraction. But then again, the elders from our church, (and I can fully comprehend this) are so proud of this youth choir, they just record and click their cameras on us wherever we sing. It’s an honourable memory to live up to.
Our pastor opened the processions with a powerful devotion and prayer.
The programme was long. It WAS a political meeting, did we forget?!
Afterwards, we ate at the stadium. Beef stew, with a delicious carrot salad (if only I could have that recipe) and rice. We received our food in pre-packed parcels. It was SO much. I couldn’t finish it. Not even half. But on I pushed myself for I’d already been told of the famine in the area. How can I throw away excess food when I’m in such a poor area and these people are suffering from starvation?
I couldn’t! I closed my food box and decided that I’ll have another attempt later.
About 20 of the choir members went to sing for the mayor where he was served lunch. Their singing served almost as background music to the meal. 🙂 When they had finished singing, they were begged, “Just one more song”!
Back on the bus, and to our sleeping quarters. At this point, approx 2 hours had passed since my first attempt at eating lunch and I thought that now was a good time to try and finish my food. It was a very hot day, and if I left it longer, who knows what might happen to it?! *ponders*
Swallow. And… again, swallow. It was hard work. But I thought about all those who don’t have food and who’d do anything to have one bite of the delicious beef stew that I’m so desperately struggling to eat right now. How selfish of me to take for granted that my tummy is full every day.
The afternoon we relaxed under the shade of some trees. At 5pm we headed back the dining hall where supper was awaiting us. We ate…
With rice and pap. Carrot salad and beetroot salad.
*sigh* My tummy seriously had no more space, but if I didn’t eat a little, I’d have no memory of this particular meal. ;P
It’s true what they say, hospitality wins the heart. And it’s one of God’s greatest and most special commandments. It was amazing how these people cared for us.
So I took a little bit of food. Maybe you’re thinking, one grain of rice, 1cm x 1cm chunk of meat… etc etc. 😀
Not exactly, but this was another reason why I made sure I finished my lunch because I knew I still had to get my supper in somehow.
We had an evening service, and once again we sang.
Is it ok to say that our singing was amazing? The voices lifted the air with harmony, unity and great volume and it pumped my blood – making me wish the weekend had only just begun.
The service was once again about death – are we ready to meet it?
A certain man who lived in the East had a servant. The servant went to town, and he was startled by something behind him. When he turned around, he turned cold as he saw Death standing to face him. He was so shocked that he hurried back to his master and said, “Please, give me a horse, and let me escape to this town. PLEASE, I must hurry.”
Bewildered by his servant’s sudden haste, he asked, “But why the haste?”
“I met Death in town, and I must run away!” the servant replied.
The master could not calm his servant and allowed him to go. Upon his release, the master went to town to investigate, when he too met up with Death.
“Why, I say, you’ve made my servant so afraid, he’s run away to this town,” said the master to Death.
“Oh,” replied Death, “that’s strange, I have an appointment with him in that town”.
This story was related in the evening service. I have just related it here and there. But the fact remains, you cannot escape death. It’s best we go to meet it with a smile on our face, knowing our Lord awaits us on the other side.
Part 5 to follow.