Sunday Lewis and I got up and drove to Salima to visit Mrs. Nester Phiri. She is a lovely woman from our congregation in Lilongwe. For her to come to services each week she gets up early and catches a minibus that will drive the 111 Kilometers to Lilongwe; where she will then walk several more kilometers from the bus stop to the church building. She is faithfully at services each week, weather permitting.
111 kilometers does not seem like very far, but we are in Africa after all
What I didn’t realize was that to go to Salima you have to drive through the mountain range to the west of us. It was spectacular! Everything is so green! Little villages nestled amongst the hills create a beautiful reddish brown contrast to the sea of green. The sky was perfectly blue on our drive up the mountain.
We have to go through three police checkpoints on the road to Salima. We misunderstood some of the directions that Nester gave us; and we ended up in a tiny village traversing dirt tracks that almost pass as roads. We thought we were looking for a school in this neighborhood (we had turned off the main road far too soon); and a very helpful gentleman climbed into the van with us to direct us through the bush to where the school was
Nester made us the most delicious lunch of beef, chicken, nsima (a cornmeal mush type food that is the staple for most Malawians), and green beans and tomatoes. It was wonderful; she then took us on a tour of her town; and showed us where she works as a palliative care nurse. She’s getting close to retirement, so she’s building up her homestead now while she still has an income.
We didn’t get to stay as long as we would have liked because a storm was brewing and we wanted to make it down from the mountains before sunset
We commissioned Alfred Mitomoni, a welder from the Lilongwe congregation, to design and make screens for our windows. They were installed on Monday. It is wonderful to be able to have the windows open into the evening and not have to worry that we’re putting ourselves in danger. We’re still taking precautions (sleeping under mosquito netting, using anti-mosquito soap, using bug spray, and keeping citronella oil handy, and taking our anti-malaria medication), but it’s wonderful.
But our elation over the windows was just a tad short-lived. Unfortunately, houses in Malawi (in general), don’t seem to be built very precisely. This means that while our screens are custom made and perfectly straight pieces of metal; unfortunately the ledge that they are supposed to fit in is not perfectly straight. We *think* we’ve found a solution. For the smaller gaps we bought some bathroom silicone sealant, and filled them up. In the wider gaps we have shopped plastic grocery bags
On Tuesday Gracious and Loney Mpilangwe came to visit. We were to discuss some logistics for the Malawi church (budget, buildings, visits, etc.). It was nice to get to know these two; and we managed without work out a schedule for us to visit the Blantyre congregation just about every other month; we worked out possible dates for the United Youth Camp, and discussed the possibility of a Women’s Weekend. I think, overall, it was a profitable visit.
We’ve had very heavy and prolonged rains the last two days (I think it rained through the night both Friday and Saturday), making for rather muddy conditions in town. We’ve been working on getting services started on time (10:30am). We’ve slowly cut the time down; and our plan was to start at precisely 10:30am this week; due to the rain and the difficulty people have getting to services we did delay slightly, and got started at 10:40am… it’s been our earliest start yet
Also because of the rain we had the opportunity to drive people in the church van either home, or to their bus stops (so they’d get less soaked). The last drop off was Miracle and Lancy Kachali. They are sweet sisters original from the north of Malawi in Mzuzu. Miracle is married and has an adorable son named Asher; Lancy is staying with Miracle and her husband to help take care of their son while they both work; Lancy is also taking care of Triphonia (her brother’s daughter). Since they were our last stop they invited us in for tea and cake. We had a lovely visit getting to know these wonderful ladies, but also getting to know some of the challenges the brethren face here.
I’m reminded again, what a privilege it is to serve God’s people. Regardless of location; we’re all God’s people, and that’s such a beautiful thing.
This morning I had one of those moments where I saw something so outside my scope of experience that I didn't quite process it until it was too late for me to actually do anything about it. Lewis and I were taking our daily walk; and it was raining,so we were using our umbrellas when we came upon a young girl walking fully in the rain. We asked her where she was headed; and if she'd like to share our umbrella. We didn't have a specific destination in mind, so we didn't mind taking her where she needed to go
It wasn't until we were about 20 feet from the shop that what I saw actually sunk in. The man was drinking a beer! And he got another beer from the shop. It was at that point that Lewis turned to me and asked, "was that a beer?" And I said, yes! I can't believe what we just saw. We were turning back to say something, but he was already driving off.
I'm still a bit in a state of shock that he was so blatant about his drinking and driving at 9:30 in the morning; I also feel guilty that I didn't process the scene more quickly and try and do something about it. Don't drink and drive people; it's stupid and dangerous and selfish.
The Rains Down in Africa 7/52
Sunday, February 05, 2017