I did it! I started writing this post right after I finished the last one. Woohoo!
So, Feast preparations. I’m going to start this by saying that God is incredibly faithful and that our deacons and their families are amazing. Without God leading us, inspiring ideas, and providing the funds we needed, this insane project would’ve been an insane “oops.” But God placed His name on the “UCG Village” and carried us through on this crazy plan.
Having no idea where to start (bathrooms, bathrooms are generally a good place to start), Brennan and I were constantly talking with the deacons, church members, building contractors, and writing to-do lists on our phones. We were in constant communication with God (
praying begging that everything would work out well and that He would lead us in every aspect), and as usual, our God is so faithful and dependable.
Our to-do list looked a bit like this:
- finish bathhouse
- finish borehole
- build church hall
- hire villagers to clear the football, netball, and volleyball fields
- build netball rings and volleyball nets
- buy tents in South Africa
- How much does it cost to get to South Africa?
- Arrange tent transport from South Africa through 4 countries
- buy mattresses
- Transport and store tents and mattresses??
- Hire cooks and buy non-perishables for group meals
And the list went on…
We have two deacons in our congregation, Cephas and Haiton. Cephas is a doctor who owns a clinic only 15 minutes away from the UCG Village. Haiton is a retired forester who farms in a town about 2 hours away from the UCG Village. Our church hall in Lilongwe is almost a halfway point between them.
We needed a continuous eye on the land watching the construction. Cephas, or a member of his household, was always present there. We joked that he was the land manager and we were the bank, because he was always throwing out new (and important) needs that we had overlooked or not even thought about.
An important item on our checklist was figuring out where people were going to sleep. Some people could afford to build huts out of bamboo and reed mats, but not everyone. We needed tents, but the only places we could find them in Lilongwe were in South African stores. Because everything is imported, the stores are expensive. Haiton used to travel to Johannesburg for work, so he volunteered to take a bus to South Africa, buy 60 tents, and haul them back to Lilongwe. Trying to convince border officers that you’re transporting tents for your church members to camp in during the not-very-well-known-about Feast of Tabernacles and not bringing them to Lilongwe to sell them, wasn’t an easy job. But, God protected Haiton and allowed our tents through.
Brennan and I are so incredibly thankful for our deacons and their families who gave up so much time, money, and sleep to prepare for the Feast.
Another way we prepared for the Feast was by having committees that were lead by 1-3 church members. The committees were responsible for finding the needs of their specific area, planning activities (if applicable, the sanitation committee didn’t plan many activities), and making sure everything was running smoothly. We had committees for activities, sanitation, food, security, music, and set up/ take down. All the committees did an amazing job during the Feast. Sporting events were planned amazingly well, we never ran out of soap, and the food for the group meals was delicious!
This Feast took so much dedication on everyone’s part. We had a member from almost every single family go out to the land and help prepare it at least once. We’re so thankful for our leaders and members who worked hard to prepare this land for the Feast of Tabernacles.