For the past two weeks, our internet connection has been very limited in a lot of ways. We do have an internet provider, but while they were updating some of their infrastructure we were forced to wait patiently and use our cellphone data (which is more expensive overall) for the time being. That means we have been taking photos, but not posting them; getting ideas for blogs, but not being able to finalize them. Today seems to be a good day and the internet is up and working again. That may change tomorrow.
I finally remembered to take a photo of our congregation during Sabbath services
The Feast of Tabernacles is always a delight! Even when there are difficulties that happen during the Feast, we still know that we are there to worship God and do His will. We know that we still live in the world and that the Feast pictures a future time when this world will be changed. Last week we set out on a trip to Chipoka which is near Salima. The purpose of the trip was to see a possible location for the Feast of Tabernacles this coming year. No sites have been finalized as we are waiting for some final details to be worked out
As we work on getting to know as many of our brethren as possible outside of Sabbath services, we do sometimes get the chance to have people over for a visit or meet up with them somewhere. We had a chance to visit with one of the young adults in the congregation. Memory, or Chiku as she is often called, came over to visit us at our house one evening. We had a delightful conversation about what it's like as a young adult living in Malawi
Last week, the office manager for LifeNets was busy with some examinations so I sort of filled in while he was away. I arrived early to the office and sat at his desk, going over the books a few times, and seeing how the construction of the building was progressing. Several building committee meetings also occurred during my stay at the office
The congregation (of course including Lena and I) has been anticipating the arrival of Brennan and Michala Hilgen. They are a young couple who decided they wanted to save up and go somewhere away from home to serve in the Church for a year. This was, of course, shortly after getting married. Some people joke that they are on an extended honeymoon, but they came to work and to serve
On their first Sabbath, we didn't take it easy on the Hilgens. Our morning started earlier than it might usually have. We all got up early, prepped the coffee and tea, went over notes, got ourselves ready, and then headed out in the van to pick up the Rashid and Elia families
We drove home after dark as has happened on several occasions now
The follow day, we had the pleasure of visiting Jeremiah Kampazangula Phiri and his family at their home. Jeremiah is a teacher. His two children have dreams of journalism and brain surgery. The family sat and visited with us for quite some time before taking us on a tour of their house which included the kitchen. This is where we learned how to prepare nsima. We supplemented the main course with cooked pumpkin leaf which Memory and I collected from plants found in the maize fields surrounding their home. The food, as usual here, was delicious and filling
To prepare for our upcoming trip to Chipata, Zambia to spend some time with Filius Jere and the congregation there, we had to head to the local INTERPOL (International Police) office. That is, if we want to be able to legally drive the Bongo across the border without being accused of stealing it. We got a signed document for the trip that states that the vehicle is ours and we are able to drive it into Zambia. When we actually cross the border, we will need to present this document as well as pay a small fee. Overall, it will be cheaper than flying, especially considering there are four of us. Another hurdle that has to be crossed before traveling internationally is procuring visas. We would like to get long-term multiple entry visas to Zambia in order to save money and time in the near future if and when we are able to return. There is an option for a three year visa, but we were told that we must apply online for such a document
There are surprises around every corner as we venture through our life and work in this beautiful African country. Sometimes people show up at services or meet us on the street and want to come pray with us even though they know nothing about us or what we teach or believe. Recently, one of our members received a call from a man from Nkhotakota, a small area north of Salima along the lake shore. The man, Alex, had mentioned that he and about 30 other people had been meeting together on the Sabbath for a little while now. They had heard about the United Church of God from a friend and decided to give us a call. The group was hoping to come join us for Sabbath services recently, but were in need of funds for transportation
The four of us planned a last minute trip to Nkhotakota with Haiton to meet them where they are and hopefully answer any questions that they might have. The trip was delightful for the most part. We left early in the morning, picked Haiton up along the road to Salima, and enjoyed the beauty of rice and cassava fields, views of the lake and a rather large lagoon, and all the greenery that covers Malawi when the rains are plentiful. We stopped for lunch in Nkhotakota proper at the home of one of Haiton's sons. Lucky and his family fed us well on rice, nsima, and fish. Again, we were not disappointed at all with the food we were fed.
Our visit with Alex Banda and his friend Jeremiah Phiri went well overall
The drive to Nkhotakota took around four hours to complete. On the drive home, we decided that it might be fun and entertaining to head through the local nature reserve, the Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve. This particular forest, filled with rolling hills of trees and shrubs, supposedly has a lot of elephants. We did see some evidence of elephants along the unpaved road that runs through the lower half of the forest, but not a single elephant. Guinea fowl, doves, and a single lizard (which perched for a half hour on our windshield) were the only wildlife we saw as the sun set behind the surrounding hills. We passed through the forest, headed to Kasungu to fill the van up, and then drove Haiton home to Dowa. Once again, it was a long day of driving that ended well after sunset.
Planning the Unplanned Plans
Tuesday, February 28, 2017
Chipoka, Central Region, Malawi