Vassula Visits South Africa, Swaziland and Lesotho
Leribe - Maseru, Lesotho
Thus, on the morning of the following day, Friday, 7th November, with the help of Emmanuel - who offered joyfully to take us by car to Lesotho - and accompanied by Winnie and Gracinda, we travelled for about 4 hours. At the Lesotho border, Evelyn Lebona - heart of the organisation of Vassula's Lesotho visit - was waiting with two carloads of TLIG friends.
Evelyn had started making plans with Esther and the members of the prayer group as soon as she learnt that Vassula's visit would take place. Meetings for Vassula were arranged with the Archbishop of Lesotho, the Bishop of Leribe and some Roman Catholic priests; she also advised the sisters of all the convents about Vassula's visit to their country. They put announcements on Lesotho Radio, arranged an interview with the Lesotho TV station, put advertisements in newspapers and posters in the churches of Maseru and arranged for a professional to videotape all the meetings.
Evelyn Lebona, organised three talks for Vassula in Lesotho and she introduced her at all three with the joy of a child - an 84 year old child who works with humility and unbelievable vitality and enthusiasm to spread the Messages in her country.
Lesotho is a small country with a population of c. 2 million. It is bordered by South Africa on all sides. Because of its picturesque scenery, it has been nicknamed 'the Switzerland of South Africa". Today, it is considered one of the poorest countries in the world and, unfortunately, the percentage of the population with HIV/AIDS is very high leading to a gradual decline in its population. Vassula had lived for three years in Lesotho with her family, two years before she started receiving the Messages. Her first talk was given there in 1999 and this was her third visit to the country.
As soon as we crossed the border, we headed for the Church of Santa Monica in Leribe, where Vassula was to give the first talk. The road was full of colourful activity. Dozens of happy little children in school uniform were going home from school. Along the street, merchants with home-made benches were selling their wares, mainly fruit. We turned right off the main road and followed a small path that led to the church. The Bishop Paul Khoarai, a reader of the TLIG Messages, welcomed us to his simple home. He talked warmly with Vassula and us all, listened to the details of her programme and then accompanied us to the Church of Santa Monica. The church has a capacity of 4,000. Most of the congregation were young students but there were also adults of all ages. They sang hymns of praise whilst waiting for the talk to begin. There were people standing in the entrance to the church and in the aisles - over 4,500 in attendance.
The Bishop had informed the faithful and encouraged them to attend Vassula's talk since she was coming a long distance to bring the message of Christ to Lesotho. With simplicity and childlike enthusiasm, Vassula spoke for over an hour about her supernatural experience with Christ, from time to time putting questions to the congregation who responded enthusiastically. At the end of the talk, she asked everyone to stand and recite the "Our Father" as the Father had taught her. She closed by saying that what they had heard was just a drop of all that the Lord had given her over the 23 years of teaching, which can be found in the TLIG book. Vassula gave the Bishop two sets of the TLIG Messages, the book about Unity and booklets with extracts from the Messages, for him to put in the church library so that the parishioners can read them.
We were invited to eat at the Bishop's home with Evelyn, Esther, Tiny and several other people from the prayer group who accompanied us. We expressed our heartfelt thanks for the reception the Bishop had given to Vassula and the Message of Christ and we promised to send more books for the church and the quarterly TLIG magazine.
In Leribe, we stayed with the nuns of the Convent of Divine Providence. Vassula was welcomed with noisy cries of joy and enthusiasm in accordance with their tradition. After the meal, 30 nuns gathered to welcome Vassula. The Mother Superior spoke on behalf of all saying: "Vassula, it is a joy and blessing to have you here in our convent." She then asked Vassula to describe her extraordinary experience with God.
On Saturday, 8th November, in the morning, before her talk at St. Joseph's Cathedral, Vassula met with Fr. Jacob Nhlapo who greeted her with the words: "We are eager to hear you!" The Cathedral was full with many children and students amongst the 800 people in attendance. Vassula spoke about God in simple childlike language, addressing her words particularly to the dozens of children, who followed her talk with interest and participated by answering the questions she put to them. I think the small country of Lesotho is especially loved by Our Lord because its people are poor and humble, yet happy and full of love and thirst for Him.
At midday, Sister Klara gave Vassula gifts on behalf of the nuns, saying: "We are a community of poor people. We don't have much to give you but we offer you our hearts and we want to thank you, Vassula Ryden, for the long journey you made. We are well aware of the difficulties and your efforts to bring Christ's message to us. We thank you from the depths of our hearts and this community of sisters will spread the Messages of the Lord!" As we were leaving the convent, the Mother Superior took her leave of Vassula saying: "We were happy to have you here!" and Vassula offered the nuns the books of Messages and whatever other printed material she had with her. The lack of TLIG books was a serious problem for us in Lesotho and Swaziland. We gave away to the priests and nuns all the books and booklets we had carried in our luggage and they were accepted with enormous gratitude.
We left Leribe in the middle of the day and arrived in Maseru in the late afternoon. Vassula gave a short interview on Lesotho television, a synopsis of the talk she would give the following day at the Maseru Sun Hotel.