This morning we started the day early with a 5am wake up call. We were headed to St. Georges Cathedral to meet Desmond Tutu. We expected to see a huge sanctuary with a large crowd for the Friday morning service. When we arrived they escorted us to a side room that had enough room for about 40 people. After we all were seated Archbishop Tutu stepped to the alter, the first thing he did was ask the congregation (40 people) to stand up and introduce themselves. As they did he would interact and ask questions, then we went around the room and hugged or shook everyone’s hand.
The service was at an Anglican Catholic service and after several readings of from Psalms he held communion. It was a short service but was absolutely surreal, knowing that one of the most influential and famous men in the 20th century had just stepped to the alter with no security and was caring enough to want to know your name and took the time to give you a hug. Wow! Wow! Wow!
Later my friend Paul told me that he was the HR director for a mining company in the early 90’s when one of the elevators bringing miners up broke and fell killing over 100 people. The memorial service was held in a stadium that was filled with mourners.
Desmond Tutu had been in the US and flew back immediately to make the service. Paul had to pick him up from the airport and on the way to the stadium, completely exhausted Archbishop Tutu took off his shoes and put his feet up on the console between the seats. Then asked Paul to please excuse his holy socks, at least that is what Paul thought he meant until he looked down and saw his socks were full of holes.
When they reached the service the stadium was packed. Dignitaries were there from every part of South Africa. When PW Botha, the president at the time got up to speak the crowd got angry and starting shouting how it was the accident was the government and the white man’s fault. As the crowd began to work itself into a frenzy, Paul began to fear for his life.
All of the sudden, Archbishop Tutu jumped from his seat and put his arm around Botha and grabbed the microphone. Then he started chanting, “freedom for whites”, “freedom for blacks”, “freedom for whites”, “freedom for blacks”. All of the sudden the crowd quickly changed from an angry mob to a mob chanting for freedom. That is what leadership is all about…
As the service finished Archbishop Tutu stayed for pictures and autographs. We were able to give him a Dustin’s GreenHouse shirt, a big package of Massimo coffee, homemade granola and a Storybag.
Then we went next door and sat and had coffee with him. Lexx got a chance to interview him as we drank our coffee. So as the morning finished and we left Jo-burg we were all memorized after meeting one of the most amazing human beings on Earth and he would be wearing a shirt designed by our kids and Lexx had gotten the interview of a lifetime.
We arrived in White River around dinner time. Everyone ate and jumped in their beds totally exhausted after one of the best days of their lives.