This article is the third in a series exploring expressions of a companion relationship between an ELCA synod and one in Namibia. See also "Bare bones, big outcomes" (October 2010) and "Where chickens sleep in trees" (December 2010). The Southwestern Washington Synod is one of four synods with companion relationships in Namibia.
It was a moment where two peoples came together, looked up and envisioned the living Christ. Women in a dusty field in Okahao, Namibia, chanted, trilled and danced. And excitement shot through visitors from the Southwestern Washington Synod as they witnessed "accompaniment" in full expression last spring.
Robert D. Hofstad, bishop of Southwestern Washington, had just presented the synod's companion, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Namibia, with $1,300 from its assembly offering. The gift will help with irrigation for the emerging Onkugo yEpongo Project, an effort to feed AIDS orphans in northern Namibia. This year, the garden's pumpkins, maize, peanuts and onions will fill their tiny stomachs.
|Women celebrate near Okahao, northern Namibia, last May. At the gathering, a Southwestern Washington Synod delegation donated $1,300 to provide irrigation for a garden that will feed hungry orphans.|
Begun by the ELCIN, the garden receives support from its adjacent Oluteyi Lutheran Parish and the Namibian government. Onkugo yEpongo ("the cry of the desolate") has deep meaning here, where hunger is as constant as the hot desert breeze and where equality between rich and poor has yet to materialize, even now, 20 years after Namibia's freedom from South African apartheid.
The garden was the first major project the ELCIN had invited the synod to support and a milestone in a relationship between old friends that goes back to the start of the ELCA. Congregations have given, lifelong friendships have evolved, visits have been made both ways and countless prayers have been spoken.
On this day Hofstad told the jubilant crowd: "We are not just visitors, but true partners."
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