A Luke Commission outreach is not a circus (there are no trapeze artists), not a carnival (there’s no cotton candy), not an amusement park (no rides), not a picnic (there’s not enough food for everyone). But it’s more than all of these.

It’s a celebration, a day to remember, joy that masks the pain of sickness. It’s a place where new friends are made and old friends meet.

Take Loukos Kumalo and Lomhlangana Dlamini, 80 years and 78 years respectively.

“Oh my friend, there you are!” declared Loukos when she walked into Room 3 to pray and to see the TLC doctor. “You are here! Jabula, jabula. (Happy, happy.)”

Friends since childhood, Loukos and Lomhlangana had not seen each other for years. After all, it cost E10 (about 80 cents) to ride public transportation from Loukos’s homestead to Lomhlangana’s homestead, and neither has extra money to spend just to visit.

“It’s too far for us to walk now,” said Lomhlangana.

Their happiness at running into one another unexpectedly lit up the whole room of waiting patients, as well as TLC staff members.

Loukos (left) and Lomhlangana were best friends as children. They unexpectedly meet again at a TLC outreach and cannot stop talking and laughing at their good fortune.

Loukos and Lomhlangana met at church when they were young girls. They took turns going to each other’s homesteads every weekend. “We wanted to stay close forever,” said Loukos.

“We used to talk about marrying brothers, so we would never part,” she laughed.

Loukos had seven children; six are still living. Her husband died in 1998. Lomhlangana had one child, and her husband died in 1993.

The old friends could not stop talking, smiling, laughing, and gesturing. They carried their reunion outside after seeing the doctor and into the pharmacy line, where they happily stood together.

A photo, please? “Yes,” they said, but “no smiles too big because no more have teeth.”

Their overall health? Good, they said. One problem, though. Each made circles around her eyes, indicating a need for eyeglasses. “Hamba, room 9, ladies. You can have today.”

by Janet Tuinstra for The Luke Commission