Preparation Days

Tuesday, April 11, 2017
Lilongwe, Central Region, Malawi
It's springtime in the northern hemisphere, especially in places that sit somewhere close to the middle between the equator and the arctic circle. Spring for me has always meant flowers blossoming, leaves starting to grow back on the branches of trees, baby animals being born and learning how to walk, and sunshine a little more often than in the darker months of Winter. What I think of as Spring doesn't really describe what is happening now in Malawi. The seasons do change here even though we are close to the equator. Further south the seasons are flipped from what I am used to.

One thing that is constant for me no matter where I am at this time of year is the Passover season . I can't exactly call it the Spring Holy Day season when it's not really Spring. It's probably closer to Fall than any other season. Farmers will start harvesting their maize soon. The people will go through a season of relative prosperity when food will be plentiful. It's not only a time of plenty, but also a time of preparation. If families are wise, they will save some of their maize back as seed in preparation for next year. They will also ration their crops so they will have enough to feed their families now and during the hunger period that usually begins in November. It's a time to prepare for the coming year by selling crops and filling bank accounts in anticipation of the coming expenses that can't be anticipated. Most importantly it is a time of preparing ourselves within our minds and hearts to kneel before our Creator, to ask forgiveness and to become changed men and women. To prepare ourselves spiritually for the challenges of the coming year.

This week we have had the chance to spend a lot of time with Victor and Beverly Kubik who are touring southern Africa . They have been traveling to this part of the world for about 18 years and have helped nearly every individual in our congregation in one way or another. It's been great to see the love they have for the people in Malawi. It's also been great to hear their stories, to receive so much knowledge and wisdom from their many years of service in God's Church, and to be encouraged and directed by them. It's also been great to show them what we have been up to in these past few months.

One highlight of our time with the Kubiks was our second trip to Chipata, Zambia. We had a chance to show them what their support from afar has been able to accomplish. A brand new building, and self-sustaining crops. Again we had "fun" crossing the border. I just keep telling myself that walking from office to office through groups of persistent money changers and insurance agents to pay money just to enter the country for a day is worth the hassle. Actually it is worth it. Not only is it cheaper than flying, but it is also worth seeing our new found friends, colleagues, brethren and introducing them to others who are also praying for them and helping them to learn and grow . This small congregation was helped by LifeNets to buy seed for planting. One lady, who also happens to care for orphaned children (she used to walk to services a very far distance, rain or shine, but now lives closer), showed us her maize field that has flourished under the tutelage of Filius Jere. We stood in the field for a while listening to Mrs. Kubik ask her a few questions about the process she goes through when it comes time to harvest the maize.

In preparation for the Night To Be Much Observed we were able to purchase a lamb and a goat. When we were planning the task out I think we had thought of buying pre-butchered meat that could easily be cooked and served with little hassle. It's far less expensive to buy live animals and do the preparation yourself. Thanks to the Chapambas, we were able to make it home with two coolers full of very fresh meat. I've never had the chance to kill and prepare any animal larger than a chicken or a fish. It was interesting watching the young men kill the lamb and the goat, and prepare them. My task was to get the meat home and refrigerate it. I decided to start deboning some of the meat the very same evening. I was stopped suddenly when I pricked the tip of a finger on a bone. I thought it wise not to bleed on meat I wanted to serve to others. Thankfully Lena rescued me. Only a small portion was fully off the goat skeleton, but all the meat was rinsed, bagged, and refrigerated . The offal was saved for those more talented in cooking offal and I personally am thankful for that - although I would like to someday learn how best to cook the innards of an animal in a way that is appetizing.

On the Sabbath before the Passover Mr. Kubik gave the sermon. It was a welcome break for me. Plus I was able to learn a few things from an experienced pastor. Since I wouldn't be speaking as much as usual I thought it might be nice to do some singing. Lena and I performed special music together which is always a very delightful experience for me. I very much enjoy music. I love to hear it, to play it, to sing it, everything about how sounds can be put together to form a message and create an emotion or express thoughts in a very eloquent way. I don't particularly enjoy performing alone and thankfully my wife doesn't either, so we sing together sometimes.

Building a building can be quite a task. Especially when dealing with contractors and construction workers that may or may not have their own problems which can sometimes affect their work. There are still bits and pieces of our building that need to be finalized, more than there should be at this time. But maybe it is a blessing in disguise. Now we have a chance to put in some of our own effort. If this is going to be our building then we might as well have a part in completing it. Many in the Lilongwe congregation are excited to begin this endeavor. It will be up to us to keep the momentum going even after everything is finished. We will have to take responsibility for what is ours.

Today I feel prepared. Lena and I have finished nearly all of our preparations for a trip to the US in May. Our house has been prepared for the Days of Unleavened Bread. Tomorrow our youth are going to prepare our building for some of the final construction elements. We are nearly prepared for another trip to Mzuzu. Our congregation is also mentally preparing for the future months and years. Preparation a key to being successful, but so is being prepared to be flexible.
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Very nice blog Lewis. You are learning valuable spiritual principles by some "earthy" experience. Slaughtering a lamb in preparation for the meal is about as hands on as it can be. When we kept the Feast of Tabernacles in Kenya a few years ago we learned how it must have been in ancient Israel. You are seeing the same with your experience in Malawi. Our "modern" way of keeping the holy days is far removed from some of the principles God intended. Keep up the good work!