The second reason was that we were waiting for the official naming of the child. Though we had already heard the rumour, we knew that it was the prerogative of parents to name their child and so we waited patiently. Finally, last week the name “Mapalo” was formally announced as the baby’s name. Thus, with the mother’s beautiful face almost back to normal and the child’s name officially announced, we were ready for the photos and the blog post.
The news of Mapalo’s birth got to me while I was preaching at the Evangelical Church of Zambia (ECZ) annual midlands conference. Not having a wristwatch, I was using my cell phone to tell the time. Also, because the meeting was in the open air, my cell phone functioned as a weight to keep the pages of the Bible from fluttering in the wind. I cannot remember at which point I was in my sermon when an SMS arrived from the latest father in town. In his characteristically cool manner, all he said was, “She has delivered a baby boy.”
|The bundle of joy--Mapalo Kapoma|
For me, that message is one that should have been written in bold, capital, underlined, and italicised letters with font size 100—if that was possible in SMS—and with three exclamation marks at the end. I had difficulties keeping the train of my thoughts for the rest of that sermon. You can’t blame me; we were grandparents at last!!!
Felistas and I became Bwalya’s foster parents in 1990. My wife brought her from the village after she got high commendations from my father-in-law. The job of parenting her had its ups and downs but we persevered. As with all our sons and daughters, we had two prayers for her. The first was that she would get saved from sin through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ at a tender age and the second was that she would find a truly godly husband. All other requests—including that of education—were secondary. We knew that many issues in her life were going to hang on these two.
One day in 1993, while she was doing her household chores, Bwalya announced to me that she wanted to be baptised. I told her that only those who have repented of their sins and put their trust in Jesus are fit candidates for baptism. Her response, which greatly warmed my heart, was that she had done precisely that. I got my fellow elder in the church, Dr Roland Msiska, to interview her for baptism and church membership. He came back acknowledging that she had a very clear testimony of the work of grace on her soul. Thus, Bwalya was baptised and became a member of the church. Since then we have seen her grow in grace.
|Happy parents--Vernon and Bwalya--holding their baby, Mapalo|
Then six years later, in 2009, she announced to us as her parents that a young man in the church was hovering around her home like an eagle about to land. We knew who he was because we had found him there a few times. We sniffed around to find out what kind of young man he was. All we heard were good reports. In the church, he took his membership responsibilities seriously and was even leading one of the home groups. He also participated in preaching at various outreach points where we were planting churches. So, before too long we gave her a thumbs-up. It was with great joy, therefore, when Vernon’s relatives “brought the plates”. We knew that our daughter was going to be in good hands.
Well, that is now history. In this blog post, we are thanking God for making us grandparents by his grace. Mapalo was born by Caesarean section because he was very big (4.5 kg). For my blog readers who may not be familiar with our culture, from now on my designation has changed. I am now Shikulu Mapalo and Felistas is now Nakulu Mapalo. Let me explain. In our culture, there are three very important events in a person’s life, and they are acknowledged by the way that person is called from that point onwards.
1. When you marry (or get married) people stop calling you by your first name and start calling you in relation to your spouse. Hence, on 2nd January 1988, I became Muka Felistas and Felistas became Muka Conrad.
|Happy grandparents--Conrad and Felistas--with baby, Mapalo|
2. When you have your first child, your designation changes again. People start calling you in relation to your first child. Hence, on 24th September 1988, I became Shi Mwindula and my wife became Na Mwindula.
3. When you have your first grandchild, your designation changes again. People start calling you in relation to your first grandchild. Hence, on 13th August 2011, I became Shikulu Mapalo and Felistas became Nakulu Mapalo.
(Different tribes and languages have different words. The ones I have used are mainly in the Bemba language, which is my mother’s and my wife’s language).
If we were in the village and someone called me Conrad today, people would think he just fell from outer space. Doesn’t he know that God has taken Conrad through three important blessings in life—the blessing of being a husband, a father, and a grandfather? How then can he still be calling him by his first name as if he has just begun the race of life? Or is he just being deliberately and maliciously disrespectful? (Since most of the readers of this blog are not “in the village”, do not worry; you may retain the way you have called me all along).
Thank God with us for the blessing of a grandson. We never deserve not even the least of the Lord’s mercies—let alone the gift of life. To God alone be the glory.
PS: “Bringing plates” symbolises the event when a go-between from a suitor’s home comes to your home to ask for your daughter’s hand in marriage. He brings two plates which are cupped and with a token amount in them. Once the plates are accepted, no one else can be allowed to bring other plates. A girl’s parents cannot discuss marriage with two suitors.