We discovered resources within ourselves. We learned how to navigate the streets of Manzini, where the best restaurants were, where to get the best produce. Wren and I explored the marketplace from top to bottom, finding all the wonderful gems there, learning to speak siSwati from orange vendors. After church one day Milo and I stopped by the local mosque and were invited to come back, which we did. Our front porch became the neighborhood kid hangout and there would be calls for Milo, Wren and Zeph from the parking lot at all hours of the day. We learned by trial and error and found joy.
In many ways it reaffirmed my belief in the importance of travel, not just seeing new places, but the ways certain experiences can change who you are, how you see the world and how the world sees you. This is the true meaning of the word journey, and this was a journey for us. It allowed me to see, and in my own small, perhaps insignificant way, to address the ugly, which is this history of colonialism, of global exploitation and continuing racism. Sending money is good. It is important and necessary to share what we have. And admittedly it probably would have been more cost effective for us to have stayed home.
But being there in person adds to this message. Eating rice and beans with your hands and laughing with everyone else at how messy and ridiculous you look. Holding a beautiful baby boy as he snuggles into your neck. Watching your kids play soccer with other kids on grassy fields with balls made out of plastic bags. When people would ask what church we attended and we would respond, Kukhany O’kusha Zion Church, this African church from an African denomination, you could see their expression change. Being with a different flock, being found by God here, far from home, and then creating home in this new place, changed all of us I believe.
Sara and Eric Marean and their three children, Zephaniah, age 12, Wren, age 9 and Milo, age 6, served the Kukhany O'kusha Zion Church in eSwatini from July 1- August 12, 2019 as Short Term Volunteers through Global Ministries. Sara is the Pastor of the First Congregational Church of Wilmot, UCC and Eric, also a UCC minister, is currently working as a Kindergarten teacher at the Alstead Primary School.