LifeNets, Podcast, Notable Dinner

Monday, March 26, 2018
Limbe, Southern Region, Malawi
Today, Monday, Bev and I went out to the church building where we had both a church meeting and a LifeNets meeting.  At 1:30 p.m. we held a Malawi LifeNets board meeting.  This was done with the Blantyre contingent present at the building connected by Skype to the Lilongwe contingent that included Cephas Chapamba, Haiton Thungula, Brennan and Michala Hilgen and Joseph Mughogho. Then Aaron Dean was connected by Skype also from the United States. Modern communications are amazing and miraculous and are taken so much for granted.  We expect now to be connected at any time anywhere in the world. 
We went through the reports of activity and finances for the country of Malawi. We have divided LifeNets into the two entities of Lilongwe and Blantyre.  Malawi is the biggest LifeNets activity in the world followed by Zambia and then general scholarships from all around the world.  Last year LifeNets did about $360,000 worth activity in the world.  We are grateful for all the LifeNets volunteers who make certain that the vast majority of every donated dollar goes to programs and direct benefits.   We are very conscious of that.  We also have a reputation of on location disbursement and management of resources. 
The Blantyre church building was largely funded by LifeNets and discussion ensued about this project.  Also, we discussed the many secondary school scholarships as well as those for college and university. 
We are so pleased with all the good that LifeNets has done and do not want to miss an opportunity to thank our donors for their encouraging support, contributions and prayers. 
Then after the Skype connections, we locally discussed some other projects about doing a borehole and one small business enterprise.  We rarely do those because most people starting out don’t have the disciple to run a business successfully and we don’t have the manpower to oversee them.  But, there was one that we are considering because it would be in conjunction of selling a food item at the site of the community borehole. 
Then we had a meeting about church matters.
We did a podcast in the church office with all the three men here:  Gracious Mpilangwe, Osborn Liyao and Dan Ringo.   We thought it would be quiet, but we were surprised at the sounds from the outside that came in: roosters (at this time of day?) and a yelping dog. The podcast went on for about half an hour.  I thought it went very well.
We got back to the hotel for a beautiful spectacular sunset again.  All three nights they have been splendiferous. 
At 7:00 p.m. Mark Katsonga Phiri picked us to go out for dinner.  He is a very generous and kind individual.  He has a holding company called Agma that oversees his businesses.  He owns AXA bus company that we use to travel on between Lilongwe and Blantyre.  He is also into real estate and construction.  And he had a poultry business but has sold that off.  He was head of the Chamber of Commerce and he is the leader of the People’s Progressive Movement (I think that’s the name) Party.  He has been a member of Parliament and has run for President of Malawi.  He and his wife Agnes invite us to have dinner with him every time we're in Malawi.  However, this time Agnes is still in the United Kingdom visiting her daughter and son-in-law.   I met them through Rotary International in 2004 and we have been good friends since.  They have stayed at our home in Indiana.
On the way to the restaurant at the Ryalls Protea Hotel, Mark picked up a business visitor called George from Uganda.  So, it was our foursome at one of our favorite places in Blantyre.  They have a very scrumptious buffet of really nicely displayed items from starters to desserts.  
George was most interested in talking and talking up Uganda.  He said that his country has gotten a bad reputation from the days of Idi Amin (which were bad), but that goes back almost more than 40 years ago to the early 70’s and that was for only eight years. 
The big problem was the civil unrest on the border of Uganda, Rwanda and the far eastern Congo.  The wealth of resources in oil, diamonds and other minerals is vast and there is vying for control by various warlords and killing is constant.  There was just another killing of 100 recently.  
He also spoke of the genocide of the Hutus and Tutsies in Rwanda in the mid 1990's.   In the space of three months one and a half million people were killed in the genocide.  He shook his head as he described the carnage.  
He talked about how the county of Uganda is quite progressive and has some very notable educational institutions.  He has a degree in Business Administration and is now going to get a law degree.  He has traveled to China for training and works in the sales of mechanical spare parts.  One of his clients is AXA bus and that is why he is here.  He said his parents are Christian evangelists and he respected us for the work we did.  We asked God’s blessing on our meal. 
We are asking Mark Katsonga to help us with getting electricity to our church hall.  We paid in advance for a connection going back to October 2016 and have STILL not been connected. We are operating on solar power right now, but it is not sufficient for all our needs as we need to pump water into the water tank and run a freezer and other high demand tasks.  Mark told us that he would use his influence to help us get connected right away.   We'll let you know and keep you updated as we are able. 
After dinner Mark took us to a British Sports club down the road.  Blantyre was one of the first entry points for the British in the 1800's.  Blantyre is a very English city and named after Blantyre, Scotland.  The style is regency.  The club was so British... even many years after becoming independent from the British on July 6, 1964.  It didn't look like much from the outside, but after entering the inside there was a restaurant, with a view of a field of large cricket pitch and lot more. 
Mark drove us to the Heritage Hotel where we are staying.  He wants to see our church building and will come by tomorrow and we'll all go out there to show him our place.
The day came to an end.  Another day of positive happenings in our lives. 
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Lorraine Barnett

You are right, the sunsets are splendiforous!! Thank you so much for all you do for God's people. I love reading each entry and seeing the faces of my brothers and sisters. Your travel blog just brings us all closer. Thank you, truly!!!