My first full day in Zimbabwe begins in search for an iron and ironing board. I packed my clothes so tightly in one duffel bag and a carry-on sized suitcase; every bit of clothing is wrinkled. I call to the front desk for an iron, but there isn’t one available. The brother that picked me up from the airport is on his way to pick me up. So, I send what I’m going to wear to be pressed. We are going to see the work that the brothers are doing at the National Sports Stadium in preparation for the first ever International Convention of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Zimbabwe. Maybe a bit of sight-seeing. And don’t forget we have to make our way to the airport later to pick up Vaughn.
So I’m pressed and ready. We venture around a bit observing the busy areas of central Harare, visit some markets and then head to the stadium.
Brothers are unloading boxes of what will be new release publications. Some are painting. Any painted cement within the seating area of the stadium was being repainted. Bathrooms are being cleaned. Tarnished fixtures are being restored to original beauty. There is a thatched-roof structure being built in one corner of the field. I’m guessing that will be for one of the stages. Different brothers stop their tasks to come over and meet me, excited to meet one of the delegates. They tell me that they have waited 2 years for this convention and to be hosts for the many delegates from various lands. I hold back tears by smiling, laughing and saying “Thank you. I have longed to meet you all also.”
We leave the stadium headed to the airport. Along the way the brother tells me that the unemployment rate is very high, explaining to me why I see so many people selling fruits, vegetables, crafts, fencing, materials for building a house; all being sold along the sides of various streets.
We are now at HRE again. Emirates usually arrives ahead of schedule, so Vaughn should be here soon. A choir of brothers and sisters is loudly singing to Jehovah for the delegates as they come out of the airport. Beautiful voices, beautiful harmony. I’m wishing I could sing as well as they are.
As we are standing around waiting, some American delegates approach me with a gift. It’s a pretty cool pin that I can wear on my suit lapel. They thought I was Zimbabwean and wanted to give me a gift. I told them I was visiting from Florida and we all laughed. Thanks for the pin though!
Vaughn has arrived! He too gets the warm welcome I received just a day before. We get some necessities from a supermarket and now it’s time to eat. Dinner is at the restaurant within our hotel. We enjoy laughter and upbuilding conversation with a few of the delegates and the local brothers. One of the young local brothers is a fan of the NBA and says he wants to play Vaughn and I in basketball on one of our “free days”. Somehow, I don’t think we will have a free day…