UB in Blantyre. Meeting with friends in evening

Tuesday, April 11, 2017
Blantyre, Malawi
Gracious Mpilangwe picked us up at the Casa Mia at 10:10 and we go to the familiar school where we've been to church services before. How well Bev and I remember being here with Denny and LeeAnn Luker at this same time of year in 2012! The air is here in Malawi is refreshingly cool as autumn is setting in.

We are first placed in a classroom and it’s obviously tight .   There are classes being taught in adjacent rooms. When the officials at the school find out that we are going to be singing, they say that that would disrupt the classes and they put us then into the larger auditorium where we had been in previous times. The cost of the auditorium is four times that of the classroom, but they gave it to us at the lower price.

The exodus begins as the entire group files out and off to the auditorium meeting hall.

We get started almost an hour late. Osborn Liyawo gives an excellent offertory sermonette about love, service and humility. Osborn has just retired from the Malawi Broadcasting as a news editor. He is a very intelligent and kind man and we enjoy being with him.

Then the children’s choir sang as well as the adult choir. Very inspiring music. The music in our church services is so important and I feel really has a lot to do with the atmosphere in which we worship God and the tone that it even sends for the one giving the sermon .

I gave my sermon about the meaning of BREAD as part of the Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread.

There were 84 in attendance today. Last night at the Night to Be Much Observed there were 85. Good crowd. Lots of kids. Lovely people.

After services we fellowshipped with as many as we could. We have gotten to know these people by name and literally feel at home with them. We’ve been to several Feasts of Tabernacles as well as Spring Holy Day times with them. We even saw some people who don’t come that often or who have dropped out who came by. Good to see them, too.

We took a photo of our scholarships students.

Then lunch. It was a lot of the food from NTBR the evening before. It all tasted so good: chicken, beef, rice, nsima, greens and homemade unleavened bread that was very very good .  

After lunch more fellowship throughout the hall and then Gracious took us back to the Casa Mia Guest house where we’re staying. The last 1/3 mile to the Casa Mia is in horrendous shape and virtually falling apart. Since the British left in 1964 and the country gained independence, nothing has been to this deteriorating road.

One nice thing about the Casa Mia is that it has GREAT INTERNET for this part of the world. 8 mps down and 3 mps up. And it’s constant. Miracles do happen. I was able to upload pictures, stories and work back to the home office.

We had a 50% prognosis of rain. Well, it became 100% with a heavy downpour through the afternoon. Big downpour.

In the evening we went to dinner with our good friends that we have gotten to know from days gone by from Rotary originally. They are Mark and Agnes Katsonga who took us to the Ryals Hotel for a beautiful meal .

She has been a member of Rotary, including being president of the Mt. Soche Blantyre Club and former Rotary District Governor for this part of the world that includes clubs in Zambia. Botswana, Mozambique and other countries, I believe. The Blantyre Rotary Club was instrumental in LifeNets receiving two ambulances for two of the clinics we built in Balaka and Lilongwe. The friendship with these people has continued to the present. They have come to visit and stay with us in Indianapolis and we have stayed with them. They have done several nice things for us and our friendship has transcended business matters. Agnes has worked for years in Inland Revenue, Customs and Excise and at one point was the head of Inland Revenue which is the equivalent of the IRS.

Mark Katsonga is a businessman. He owns AXA bus company which is the premier bus transport in Malawi. That’s how we got down here from Lilongwe.

Mark has also been the head of the Chamber of Commerce in Blantyre . He’s owned a poultry operation and other ventures.

He is also head of one of the country’s political parties called the People’s Progressive Movement (PPM). He has been a member of Parliament and ran for President of Malawi in 2014. He’s a very modest man and very enjoyable to speak to. He was originally going to Zimbabwe on personal matters, but changed the trip so that we could get together. Our time is tight here in Blantyre and this was the only night that we could see each other.

On Thursday he is going up to Lilongwe and allied with heads of 10 other parties, are going to hold a news conference dealing with corruption in government and the lack of leadership from highest positions in government. Corruption rampant and unbridled theft in high places. The current president is an academic and really not a good leader in the eyes of many, I understand

There are 50 registered political parties in Malawi, but only ten of them are viable. Mark is the head of one of them.

We really enjoyed our evening. They took us back to Casa Mia. A full day. Tomorrow we look forward to a meeting with our Building Committee to discuss the completion of church meeting hall.
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2017-11-23