Enroute to Namibia

Greetings from Johannesburg, South Africa!  I am enroute from Southern California to serve as a local pastor with two local churches of the United Congregational Church of Southern Africa in Kalkveld and Otjiwarango, Namibia.   My stop over in Johannesburg to be oriented to our partner denomination has been extended to await visa approval.  But in the meantime I have had some incredible experiences (see my blog www.LolettainNamibia.blogspot.com for pictures!).  I started by visiting the rich historical and archeological and natural resources in the Johannesburg area.
 
I toured the Apartheid museum, Constitution Hill, Soweto, and the Cradle of Human Kind, with caves that hold cave drawings and yield incredibly ancient archeological finds.  I was able to put in perspective the history of the people; from all of us originating in Africa many millenia ago, to the oppression of Apartheid and the struggle for freedom, independence and a new country in South Africa over the past fifty years.  I visited the Bridgman Center and saw the wonderful community ministry where we have a long history of partnership.  I met Kristine Tisinger, our Global Ministries missionary who works here with the Theological Education by Extension College. She and I went to the Lion and Rhino Park and petted a cheetah and six month old tiger cubs and surprised a mother hippo with her baby. (I think it was mutual!)
 
I journeyed to Kuruman, South Africa to visit the Moffat Mission, "where Christianity entered the African interior."  On the first trip I heard about the UCCSA restructuring plan and met clergy and lay people from local churches in western South Africa.  The second trip I spent a week facilitating a workshop with seminary students on mission; sharing the call of all Christians to take God's love into the world and transform it with love, justice and peace.
 
I was privileged to attend the bi-annual Executive board meeting of this international denomination with representatives from all five Synods (South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique).  I was honored to be invited to lead the daily devotions and to learn about the operations of the churches at the local, regional, synod and national level.  I spent Holy Week in Botswana, first leading a women's retreat on the Holy Spirit in Gabarone, and then leading Bible study, washing feet and preaching in Molepolole.  I was able to visit with the Wilsons, our Global Ministries missionaries in Gabarone, Botswana, and hear about the church and seminary there.  
 
I have found a truly congregational experience here, with each church I have preached at worshipping and working in different ways, in many different types of settings, and in many different languages, (I am learning a few words here and there by singing!).  Yet the same Spirit enfuses their life together.  I have been warmly welcomed in every place, and I have seen great appreciation for the Global Ministries partnership with the UCCSA.  I give thanks to God and to all of you for this opportunity of a life time to represent you and experience life with God's people here.  Thank you for your support and encouragement.

Peace,
Loletta