What’s the easiest way to put smiles on seminarians’ faces? Feed them, of course!

That is exactly what the Central Synod Women’s Manyano did for the SMMS students on the weekend of 17-18 August. Sixty members traveled by bus to the Pietermaritzburg on a mission to provide encouragement, support, and sustenance to the student body.

The women brought R17,000 (US$1,118) worth of food stuffs for the student lunch program, and presented a cheque of R20,000 (US$1,315) to the school to be used to purchase fresh vegetables and meat.

SMMS provides a free hot lunch to every seminarian every day of the week, meaning the seminary serves 625 meals per week, at a cost of R18,750 (US$1,233).

But the value of the women’s visit was not merely counted in financial terms.

“We (students) felt encouraged that people who do not know us came all the way from Johannesburg to show us love and support,” said Monde Mchunu, Chairperson of the Student Executive Committee (SEC). “In the African context, it is the mothers who make food for their children, and so they came here to feed us and show us that motherly love.”

Mchunu and the SEC were also responsible for organising the welcome that the women received upon their arrival at the seminary on Saturday afternoon. Their first order of business was a worship celebration in the chapel, in which seminarians and visitors were each encouraged to share and give testimony.

The next morning, the women joined the seminarians in another worship service. This time, they made a special presentation of R500 (US$32.87) for airtime to the 17 seminarians who come from the Central Synod. Later in the service, the members of the Manyano knelt at the communion rail as the seminarians came forward and prayed for each of them.

It was a special morning for seminarian Gillian Fox, who comes from the Central Synod. “It is the first time they have come since I have been here,” she said. “Every region of the church has a different flavor of worship. I found worshiping with them was hugely comforting. To hear that sound again was so good!”