Yesterday (Friday) was the Ngongane Primary School dedication ceremony. This was my first dedication experience in Mozambique. Wow. To get everyone on the same page, Ngongane is a primary school about 20-25 minutes from the city of Massinga. Manchester UMC has dedicated their Easter offerings to educational infrastructure needs, with Ngongane being their most recent school completed. About 1500-2000 children go to school here in three shifts on a daily basis. There is no electricity in this community.
The morning started early, we left our hotel/guest house at 6:20AM. We headed toward Massinga's DS parsonage and I got to see the recently purchased furniture and freezer. We visited with retired pastors, lay leaders, pastors, and other officials as people arrived. Then, we convoyed to Ngongane at about 8:30AM.
As we arrived, it was overwhelming. The children were singing, dancing, lined up, ready for our arrival. They greeted Bishop Nhanala, me, the Mayor and a few other officials with a lei of flowers and we walked slowly as we approached the dedication stone as the women worked diligently and hard to allow us to not walk on the ground, but only walk on their mats as they moved them from virtually our cars to the dedication stone.
Bishop Nhanala blessed and unveiled the dedication stone, cut the ribbon to the classrooms and the administrative block. At the administrative block, both the administrator and the Bishop wrote in a notebook of the day's ceremony to remember it. After the ribbon cutting, we went to the shade, where the Mayor, Bishop Nhanala, Massinga district superintendent, Ngongane school administrator and an equivalent of our county-level official sat at the head table.
The ceremony continued with singing, dancing, children, community members, parents, teachers all sitting and watching. During this timeframe, I had the opportunity to present a small gift on behalf of Manchester UMC to the school administrator, the DS (to give to the local Ngongane pastor) and Manchester UMC submitted a letter to read that Naftal read. When I presented my gift I summarized the parable of the children in Matthew 18, saying that today, we recognize children are who we want to be more like to be closer with God and that we want to improve and provide opportunities for. We then shared lunch together and departed around 1PM. Pictures don't do this justice, but I will cut this short in a few minutes to make sure I can upload photos to facebook.
A few observations include how proud the community was of this school. Bishop Nhanala preached a brief sermon about the important of schools like this and other projects we are working on in education for children to meet "targets" or "goals" and that we will be challenged in meeting them, but with the right tools an faith, we can meet these challenges (she used Phillipians 3: 1-2, 12-13, where 'dogs' are described as challenges.
It was an amazing and moving experience. Ezy, Naftal, and I estimated that together there was likely between 600-700 people in attendance.
It was a blessing to visit briefly with Bishop Nhanala. The happiness of children playing is contagious and does nothing but makes you smile. The proud nature of our partnership and how it is changing lives is definitely seen in Mozambique. I hope to provide more reflections soon, but I wanted to jot down what happened. Let me upload photos and more to come hopefully.
Today, I travel to Tete. Not knowing the internet capacities, it may be a few days before you hear from me again. Hopefully not, but we shall see. :)