Today is Sunday.
On Sundays our day begins with "Good Morning, Lord."...or sometimes "Good Lord, it's morning!" I know, I know...an old and corny joke, but a joke that we think is funny on Sunday.
7:00 a.m. Mario comes in with a cup of coffee and says "If you want to be on time to pick up Portia you better get up now," I smell the coffee, but am still unmotivated to separate from my foam pillow. I groan, and he shuts off the fan, making it almost impossible to stay in bed in this heat. I stir, and then look at Zuzu, my miniature pinscher, laying in her little dog bed underneath my dresser. She looks at me with her eyes only: "Is it time to get up already??" they say.
7:15 a.m. Mario comes in to the bedroom and says "Hi honey, I AM elder on duty, but it should be a breeze today because the admin team is starting." He seems remarkably perky for such a hot and lazy morning. He reminds me I need to get perky soon, just by looking at him. I have half-an-hour before I leave.
7:45 a.m. I am dressed, hair and makeup done and am getting last minute touches done when I realize that Delise (our neighbor) still has my house keys. Since we were in Bloemfontein yesterday, Delise and Andrew promised to lock up our house after it was cleaned on Friday - a disaster mess after Thanksgiving. Even though we came back yesterday, Saturday, we forgot to get my set of house keys. Mario rushes to get them next door.
7:48 a.m. Mario comes in the room, my house keys in hand, and reminds me that Delise and Carick and Priscilla are leaving for Leisure Bay this morning. No vacation...they are moving. We have known that our long-term neighbors are moving for months, but have been in denial that they are leaving. I kiss him goodbye and he leaves in his car as I lock up the house. I look over at the neighboring house (there are 5 houses on our plot-- all except Mario and I are family) and the scene is busy, solemn and a little sad. I make my way over and say goodbye to Delise, Carrick (her 2 year old) and Priscilla (their domestic Saint) and leave befre the tears well up in my eyes. I can imagine how the family feels.
8:05 a.m. Against all odds, I arrive in Diepsloot not far after I said I would (8:00) to pick up Portia and the boys to take them to the Junxion Center Service. Portia comes out looking stunning, with a gift in her hand. For once the boys are wearing shirts that don't match (usually they look like twins). They greet me and Portia hands me the gift. "Is this for me??" I ask. Portia smiles and says "Yes, it's for you!" We get into the car and I say "What for?" She says, "It's just a small thank you gift." I smile, and we catch up while I drive. She tells me about her new job, her schedule and the kids being finished with school on the 10th of December. We relax into girlfriend chatter we haven't had for two weeks... The roads through Diepsloot have been affected by rain and I have to pay attention.
8:25 a.m. We arrive at church and get a pretty good darn parking space. I even made it on time for prayer. I am so thrilled, and as we come in Costa and his girls greet me. They look so happy (today is the Christmas Pageant) and they all look so cute. I am distracted by many friends greeting me, and soon I am swimming in conversation. Soon I glance over at the visitors table and notice that it is not set up. I look over and see that Bright (the church sexton) is setting up communion, and is most likely busy with many things. I ask him if I can help set up the visitor's table. He says no, and asks me what else needs to be put out to make it complete. As I answer, I realize I should have done it yesterday (after we got home, exhausted from Bloemfontein) and that now it will just look a little disheveled. As I tell him, time lapses...and I miss prayer time.
9:30 a.m. Mannie is the elder that will be giving the Word Preach today, and he is wonderful, beginning with prayer and teaching about prayer. The place is awakened by the kids' performance and somehow it is easier to absorb the teaching. Come close to God and enjoy Him...let Him enjoy you. It is wonderful...but my stomach is rolling around like a washing machine.... what's going on??
10:00 a.m. The bathroom and I have become good friends this morning. I am wondering if it something I ate...? I am a little embarrassed of running in and out of the sanctuary and decide to hang back in the foyer and listen from there. It works for awhile, but soon I see my friend, Lara, who has been in the hospital this week. She is here in the foyer getting some liquid nutrition and supervising her boys as they noisily play with their cars on the table. We chat about how she's feeling, and soon her husband comes up to us with their new baby. We all chat as Lara feeds the baby. Little moments like these are unexpected blessings. Lara, Derek, the boys and the baby are jewels in our church, and I seldom get to connect - and never on Sunday mornings.
10:30 a.m. The service is over and people pour into the foyer as I come out of the bathroom again. I look over at the visitors table and see it is still left undone. I try to get what's needed, but the CMG on duty is beginning to serve without forks or utensils there. The coffee is MIA, there are no serviettes or milk. I am trying to encourage the people volunteering, but it is hard as they want to know why the table isn't set up properly. Ooops. In my mind, I make a mental note to get a checklist for Bright for the visitor's table, a new thing we're doing in this building. It all works out, and after the visitors are served, I thank the volunteering CMG, telling them that we're pioneering this visitor's section at the new building!!! They are a little more relaxed now, and even smile at my weak joke....
10:35 a.m. I catch up with Monica, who asks if we can take toilet paper to Diepsloot. I go with her to the storeroom and tell her that before we take anything we need to tell Bright. I see him as we enter, and tell him we are taking two rolls of paper for Diepsloot. He nods, but I can tell he's a little flustered for not doing the visitor table right. I tell him that I'll make a checklist and we'll go over it together. It seems to make him feel worse, and I just say "We love you! Your're doing a great job!" He smiles, and says, "Thanks. I'm trying to do everything on Sunday mornings that everyone asks me to do." I smile back and say "Maybe we should set up the visitor's table on Saturday." I'm not very good at shutting up when I should.
11:00 a.m. Driving up to Diepsloot, Portia and I talk about the children's play. The kids were so cute!! The whole of the church was smitten with the kids being so bold and wonderful.... As we make our way in, Eby and Darely show me their gift bags, given to them as a year-end present by two of our leaders, Shep and Eve. They are amazing!! There's even a new Bible!! I am amazed that the gift bags look so good this year....(mental note: talk to Shep and Eve to see how they got these!!)
11:15 a.m. We can't make contact with Michael, our guy usually in charge of the sound set-up. We have no sound system and there's only one person on the worship team, Angel, at the keyboard singing. The sound desk guys are dressed sharp and ready to go, but there is no sound system. Monica says "We can just be voices today." I am encouraged by the flexibility of our leaders... and a cappella worship in Diepsloot is beautiful and loud. I love it.
12:00 p.m. Dumisani is making his way through an incredible preach... all about how far we have come since we planted this satellite church in Diepsloot. God has strengthened the leaders in commitment, prayer, relationship and knowledge and we are ready for the next step! It seems fitting that this is the "year-end preach". Next week we are having a party here in Diepsloot for our Sunday gathering, and we will pray for one another as we all individually celebrate the holiday by "going home". Dumi and Monica will head for the Eastern Cape, Portia and her family will go to Zimbabwe, Anica will go to Petersburg... and so on. I reflect silently: we are in Johannesburg to sweat out the Christmas season. We will miss the cold, the comfort of "home" and our families this time... because we "just got back".
1:30 p.m. We are finished here in Diepsloot and we have all stacked the chairs in the hall. Mario and I say goodbye until later and he goes out one way, Portia and the kids and I go through extension 9. We still end up talking about the Christmas play... how much joy it brought all of us. Portia surprises me by buying a live chicken so she can serve "fresh chicken" tonight. So, while we make our way through a very busy Diepsloot, our conversation is punctuated by a cluck...then Portia saying "Be quiet, you." to the poor fowl. Pretty soon, he'll be in chicken heaven...and the family will have a feast.
I get home to Zuzu dancing and yelping with joy at my return. I get to the bathroom (again) and she comes with me. I stroke her little face, so cute! My life is filled with little joys... little sparkles...that reflect like the sun on a morning lake....
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honorable, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.