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A Warm Welcome

August 28, 2010

Every once in a while we’re lucky enough to experience moments as we go about our everyday lives that seem independent of time, space and location. Those times where, as cliché as it sounds, you quite literally pinch yourself (or at least ask) to see if this is really happening, and not just something out of a book, movie, dream etc. Then, once you’ve established that it is for real, you are so filled with an overwhelming sense of joy, happiness and contentment to be exactly where you are, that everything else goes away and you settle in to just enjoy the experience to its very fullest.

At the end of the day Tuesday, my first night in my new town, my counterpart at work invited me to a ‘church singing group’. Being somewhat tired from a 5am wake up and several hours of travel, topped off by a head swimming with thoughts from a fairly long meeting going over my work and role for the next 5 months, I was not really in the mood for being the centre of attention at a large choir practice. I hesitated for just a second, but decided to go for it (knowing that I am partial to church singing groups, and being new to town you have to push those comfort zones and build connections). Best decision I could have made.

Instead of a large choir practice in a drafty church, we drove to a small home on the outskirts of town. I was warmly greeted by two young women (who expressed only a hint of surprise at this azungu walking into their home unannounced) into a small modestly furnished kitchen/living room/dining room where we sat in flickering candlelight while we waited for the other two to arrive. We exchanged big smiles, lots of laughter, language lessons and a promise to come up with a Tumbuka name for me, easily lifting my spirits before the music even began.

The best was yet to come, and once they started singing, I sat in pure rapt delight for a solid hour while the five of them sang the most wonderful 4 part harmony that I have possibly ever heard. Without even a pitch pipe for support they wove in and out of traditional worship songs, spirituals, and praise music. Mostly from memory and in what I’m guessing was Chewa (but possibly could have been Tumbuka) they went over tough parts again and again singing the harmonies back and forth to each other until everyone had them spot on. I wish words could express how great it was, but I don’t think I could even come close. The music was gorgeous, their voices were amazing, and the joy in their faces as they sang together was uplifting. It was an hour that I won’t soon forget.

Luckily, the extra bonus to these type of special moments is that you’re somehow not sad when they end. I think its maybe because you’ve enjoyed it to such an extent that it would be hard to get any more enjoyment out of them. We closed with a prayer, and an invitation to come back again, which I will most definitely be taking them up on. Hopefully just a start to the great things to come in Mzimba 🙂

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Pat Dunstan permalink
    August 31, 2010 4:14 am

    Hi Alyssa- Had a chat with your Mom and Dad tonight and am SO delighted they guided me into your blogs! Your experience sounds aMAzing, I love your style of writing and I look forward to sharing your journey. Take care. God bless you.

  2. August 31, 2010 6:08 am

    miss you kiddo and glad that i’m finally up to speed on your blog (i was lagging). please let us know your new name when you’re furnished with it.


  3. Snori funtime permalink
    September 9, 2010 1:55 pm

    Hey lady. What a great story. I wish I could have been there. Thanks for sharing.

    Love you very much!!!!

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