The Africa University Choir fills the courtyard with joyful music to great the Indiana Conference delegation and University board members present for the endowment ceremony.

I was excited! Another chance to go to Africa! Sure, it’s a vast continent but I’d only ever been to Tanzania. So, the Bishop’s Leadership Academy and another chance to visit Africa again made me excited to say, “yes!”

Then, I realized: I have no expectations. I don’t know what we’ll be “doing.” All I can tell others is: “we are endowing a Chair of Agriculture and Natural Resources at Africa University (AU).”

The time finally arrived and we assembled with the majority of the team in the Indianapolis Airport for the arduous journey of many miles, many hours, and many flights.

We left Indianapolis around 2:52 p.m., Tuesday, March 17. We arrived in Zimbabwe around 9:20 p.m. Wednesday, March 18. (Which was around 3:20 p.m. Wednesday in Indiana, if you don’t count those 6 hours we zoomed into the future).

We rested the first evening. Thursday, we journeyed by bus to Africa University to meet, greet, see and celebrate. Delegates from the Florida Conference were in attendance, as well as individuals from the General Board of Higher Education Ministries. The Africa University Choir sang out! The dais gave words of hope, encouragement, celebration and thanks. It was an honor to be a representative of the Indiana Conference and the dollars raised and committed to Africa University. After the program of celebration, we toured the Agricultural and Natural Resources School where they raise chickens, pigs and dairy cows. We would return the next day to tour the Library, Chapel and the “Faculty” of Health Sciences.

In addition to touring AU, we visited Fairfield Children’s Home (FCH). This was of interest to me especially, because of my previous stay at Ilula Orphanage in Tanzania. I like the model of the Fairfield Children’s Home, which involves mixed ages in one “home” (there are many homes on the property). This model is to foster a picture of a traditional home, where there are children of varying ages. I could have spent a day bonding with the children there.

After our visit was done at AU and FCH, we were able to tour three other countries and get a picture of the need, the challenge and the hope of Zimbabwe, Botswana and Zambia. I can’t label anything as most eye-opening. There were people who “had not seen white people in 20 years.” There were men in the market places “willing to trade their goods for ink pens, chocolates, shampoos and shoes.” There were also animals roaming the land freely. This is their home too.

We crossed border after border, answering questions, getting stamps in our passports, and standing in disinfecting mixture so as not to infect one country with dirt, bugs, etc., from the other. We walked across the Birchenough Bridge due to our bus being over capacity. At one point, we were stopped by police standing in the road; only once having to open our passports to show our citizenship. We were hearing one store owner after another say, “No hassle, No hassle....come, look in my shop....No hassle.” It was an overwhelming experience.

I learned the importance of Africa University for the people who get to attend. The 26 countries represented (currently) at AU are going to receive LEADERS as graduates from Africa University. These leaders will graduate from AU with an executable plan for THEIR village within their respective country. They will be able to employ others and teach others how best to work the land, the crops and the animals for their environment.

Here are a few things I learned about each country as we travelled

In Zimbabwe, their dollar has no value. They depend on the U.S. dollar.

In Botswana, they depend on the revenue from the National Parks. Water is a great commodity and should be used sparingly.

Zambia has beautiful views of animals and the “beginning” of Victoria Falls. Their currency is the Kwacha and was exchanged at 6.5 to 1 while we were there.

If I could do the trip all over again, I’d take more shampoos and body soap, more shoes and I’d buy more souvenirs.

As it was, everyone was employed in some way. There were porters, sweepers, hostesses, greeters, musicians and dancers who were essentially the welcoming committee or the hospitality committee. All seemed elated, pleased to jump in and help in some way.

Are the doors to your worship space adorned with persons glad to serve the House of God? Are we willing to give over and above service to our friends, family, and new friends? Are you willing to be the heart of Christ to strangers, neighbors, and friends to be?

Rev. Chiyona Bourne